BCC logoThe British Chambers of Commerce today called on Chancellor George Osborne to focus on youth employment, training and enterprise in his Budget speech on 19th March.

They rightly assert that such a focus will be “crucial to securing future growth and avoiding a ‘lost generation’ “. The unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds was 19.9% for the three months to December 2013, almost three times the national unemployment rate of 7.2%.

In its submission to the 2014 Budget, the BCC says:

“We are currently faced with a deficient education, training and skills system, which has resulted in a troubled labour market, high social costs and increased youth unemployment . . . The BCC is proposing concrete measures to promote business investment in young people aged 16-24:

  • A new £100m Future Workforce Grant scheme – a £1,000 payment to businesses who hire long-term unemployed young people or a new apprentice, to create 100,000 new jobs in 2014. This will help to bridge the gap before the national insurance exemption for under 21s is introduced in 2015.
  • A two-year extension to the successful Apprenticeships Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme to help create 80,000 additional apprenticeships. Demand from candidates has outstripped supply of apprenticeship vacancies by as much as 12 to one.
  • Increased tax relief to encourage investment in young entrepreneurs. Increasing the tax relief available through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) from 30% to 50% for investors in businesses run by under-24s will help more young people set up and grow their own business.

At just under £400m, the estimated cost of these interventions is less than 0.02% of government current spending for the next three years, and is just a fraction of the projected departmental underspend for 2013-2014 (£7bn). According to the Treasury’s Autumn Statement, December 2013.”

BCC Director General John Longworth said:

“If the Chancellor wants to avoid a lost generation among today’s 16-to-24 year-olds, he must use the spring Budget to help businesses take on and train up young people, whether they are going straight into jobs or into apprenticeships . . .  Getting young people into employment is vital, pressing, and easily affordable right now. Helping British youth in the way we propose would cost less than 7% of what the government spent on overseas aid last year, for example. If government helps businesses overcome the real risks they are facing today, the private sector will invest in a skilled workforce for the future.”

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Next: the Institution of Mechanical Engineers leads the way – BCC please note.

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