West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is backing the call of the national Chamber movement for this week’s Budget to focus on youth employment as a key issue.
The British Chambers of Commerce has asked the Chancellor George Osborne to answer the criticisms of employers about the lack of work readiness of young people. BCC, in its submission to the Treasury, has highlighted the fact that young people are almost three times as likely to be unemployed as the rest of the population, causing problems in the labour market. If the economy is to continue to recover from the recession, says BCC, steps are needed now to avoid a ‘lost generation’.
Measures called for by BCC, and backed by West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, include:
- A £100m Future Workforce Grant scheme– £1,000 payment to businesses hiring long-term unemployed young people or a new apprentice. This will help bridge the gap before under-21s national insurance exemptions in 2015.
- A two-year extension to the Apprenticeships Grant for Employers (AGE) schemeto help create 80,000 additional apprenticeships.
- Increasing tax relieffrom 30% to 50% for investors in businesses run by under-24s to help more young people set up.
A wider range of economic reforms and incentives for growth will be urged in the autumn, when the political parties will be gearing up towards next year’s General Election. For now, however, the new super-Chamber for the region wants to see the Budget focus on youth employment, training and enterprise.
Bradford Chamber President Paul Mackie said: “In this Budget, the Chancellor can help businesses train young people and ensure the nation has a properly skilled workforce for the future. Measures that would encourage more investment in businesses run by young people, such as extending income tax relief, would also help.”
Leeds President Nigel Foster said: “If our region is to compete with the south and elsewhere, we need appropriately qualified young people coming forward for the new posts being created. The transition from education to employment needs to be made as easy as possible. Judging schools on employability as well as exam results would be a good step to take.”
York & North Yorkshire President Suzanne Burnett added: “No-one wants to see a lost generation of young people devoid of the skills and aptitudes that are needed to deliver more growth and prosperity. Businesses are telling us with increasing frequency that skills shortages are a problem – it is clear that it is restricting growth.”