The government’s work programme: getting the young safely into work

24 Jun

Youth unemployment is a serious issue currently facing the UK. In February it was revealed that nearly one million 16-24-year-olds were out of work, the highest number since comparable records began in 1992. And as getting these young people back into work increasingly becomes a priority, so too must their safety in doing so.

On Wednesday night I attended an All Party Parliamentary Group on Youth Affairs whose aim was to discuss the government’s work programme. The event was held at Portcullis house, chaired by Stewart Jackson MP and attended by the employment minister Chris Grayling, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes, and a host of young people. Simon Hughes actively encouraged the audience to question Chris Grayling, telling us not to “let him off the hook”.

Grayling outlined the elements to his strategy to provide unemployed young people with the support to get back into work. The approach will comprise of three schemes: the government is looking to create opportunities for young people to undertake eight-week work experience placements; it is looking to create far more apprenticeships – 250,000 by the end of parliament; and is currently compiling a list of employers from all sectors who will take on the services of the long-term youth unemployed, with incentives for them doing so. These employers have applied to the government for the right to be able to provide this employment.

Should the initiative go ahead we could witness an unprecedented number of young people entering the workplace for the first time. While I appreciate the benefits embarking on a spell of work experience and gaining a valuable reference from an employer can bring, young people are more at risk of death, injury or illness for a number of reasons, namely a lack of experience and confidence. I’ve worked in risky and hazardous work environments in the past; I knew full well the risks, but did not have sufficient experience to demand the hazards were managed correctly. And I know I’m not the only young person who has done this.  

If the initiative is successful the companies employing this new generation of apprentices and workers need to effectively and supportively manage their safety and health. And I hope that outlining their health and safety policies and the special consideration they will give to young workers will have been a fundamental part of their application to the tender.


One Response to “The government’s work programme: getting the young safely into work”

  1. Ian Simpson June 26, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    How are they going to manage this in construction when you can’t find work without going through an employment agency?
    But you don’t actually work for the employment agency you work for a composite company who will only employ you as a contractor so basically you work for yourself.
    That means that when it comes to health and safety its down to yourself and your own experience.
    Even experienced mens health and safety is compromised daily and deliberately by most so how will our youngsters manage?
    Here’s a great example.
    I’m a plant operator and almost every company i have worked for expect me to get out of the cab and “Muck in” even though they know i’m only insured to operate plant.
    Most of the “Mucking in” would require me to have other tickets that are completely un-related to my occupation and should i have an accident i wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.
    Then if you refuse to “Muck in” the company just calls the agency and they will send someone else who will.
    Construction workers are in one of the most dangerous industries known to man and we are deffinately in the most voulnerable employment position.
    This can’t be safe for anyone.

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