From education to employment

Government widens Youth Contract

The Department for Education has announced additional help for young people after saving £20 million through the government’s Youth Contract.

The contract will be extended to help a wider target of young people who not in education, employment or training (NEET) to help tackle youth unemployment.

Previously, the scheme was limited to funding NEETs with no GCSEs at A*-C. The changes mean young people with one GCSE at grade A*-C, or who were or are in care, or who have been released from custody, will now also qualify.

Under the plan, an extra 15,500 16-17 year-olds will be eligible for tailored support to help them into work.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “Helping these young people to get on in life is crucial if we want to build a strong economy and a fair society.  We want every young person, regardless of their circumstances to be able to fulfil their potential.”

Youth Justice Minister, Jeremy Wright said: “Education and training is the key to getting young people who have offended back on the right path. We are improving access to education for those leaving youth custody by creating better links between the secure estate, youth offending teams and local colleges and are conducting a review of the youth custodial estate with the intention of developing a much stronger focus on education.

“The extension of the Youth Contract to young people leaving custody is a welcome and important step in the Government’s commitment to reduce reoffending.”

Seven providers successfully bid for contracts as the £1 billion scheme launched back in July, and they will now work with local authorities and agencies to help identify young people eligible for the support.

Young people will be able to start their tailored package of support from February this year.

Kirsty McHugh, chief executive of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), welcomed the move, but warned the Youth Contract still risked excluding young people who need extra help to enter employment.

“ERSA has been calling for the eligibility criteria to focus on genuine need rather than educational attainment alone,” said McHugh.

“While this is an important step forward, the criteria remains strict and there could still be young people with great need who will be excluded by these rules. We also need to see more active partnerships between local authorities and employment providers to maximise the benefits of the scheme.”

Syema Majeed

Related Articles