Budget 2011: Budget promises more youth apprenticeships

23 March 2011

The government will spend £180 million funding up to 50,000 new apprenticeship places to try and tackle growing youth unemployment, the chancellor said today.

The number of work experience schemes will also increase to 100,000 over the next two years and 12 more university technical colleges, providing 11-19 year-olds with vocational training, will be created as part of an overall aim to give Britain's workers better skills.

George Osborne says the biggest problem facing our economy is a lack of skilled workers and we fall behind America, Germany and France in this field.

Compared to other European countries, the UK is also falling short of giving young people work experience opportunities. In Austria, Germany and Switzerland around one in four employers offer apprenticeships, in England that number is less than one in 10.

Osborne says: "We are committed to backing what works, real training, secure jobs, more growth."

But there was no mention of university fees, set to rise to up to £9,000 next year, and many action groups think these measures do not even begin to tackle the scale of the problem.

Youth unemployment has risen by 250,000 since the start of the recession and one in five 16-24-year olds now find themselves out of work. With people living and working for longer, and increased university fees, youth unemployment is expected to rise further.

Ben Robinson, chair of Youth Fight for Jobs, says the government has yet again "condemned millions to the dole queues and scrap heaps of the twenty first century".

He argues that with two and a half million people currently unemployed, today's plans do not even begin to cover the scale of the problem.

"With university and college ruled out for many because of this government, unemployment figures will get worse rather than better. But we suspect these ‘work experience' measures will be working for your dole doing jobs for free that were previously paid employment. It's clearly one rule for the majority, and another for big business with cuts in corporation tax" he adds.

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