Tackle unemployment or risk losing your pension

During October the Future Jobs Fund, created by the Government in the 2009 Budget, will award its first grant with the aim of creating new jobs for young people. And Graham Hill is taking this opportunity to challenge other small businesses to help tackle youth unemployment by taking on a modern apprentice or a offering a work experience placement.

“It is mutually advantageous to get involved in helping to reduce youth unemployment. There are over 4 million small businesses in the UK who employ between 1 and 10 people. If only 1 in 5 could take on a young person youth unemployment would be solved.” explains Graham.

Youth unemployment needs a different approach to the usual job creation strategies. Most young people cannot be expected to step into a job and be left to get on with it, as older more experienced staff can. A young person is likely to need some form of training ? either informally by their colleagues or formally through specific training schemes.

Verbatim has long put its money where its mouth is by employing young people within the team. The first was Jodie Piper when she graduated from Newbury College in 1998 and was taken on as a Modern Apprentice through the Learning Skills Council.(in those days Verbatim paid her to attend college one day per week to NVQ level 2 in Customer Service). Jodie was trained and mentored by her colleagues and became an asset to the business. She loved the work and Verbatim were thrilled with her. Not long after, Jodie’s mother joined the team having been recommended by her daughter.

Now Verbatim has a team of young people working within the company and is sponsoring them all to complete their NVQ level2 qualifications.

“If we don?t tackle youth unemployment now, people of my generation can say goodbye to their pensions. This will cause huge social problems in the future ? problems that the Government and Welfare State will be left to deal with. We need to act now and the Government needs to make it easier for small businesses to take on young people. At Verbatim, as far as we are concerned if a young person has a good attitude and a good general education, we can train them ourselves.” says Graham.

Modern apprenticeship or work experience can be of great benefit to both the young person and the company hosting them. And yet despite the Government’s rhetoric they are not helping companies connect with young people in order to offer them placements.

“We recently called Reading University to offer a work placement to a graphic design student ? but my calls were never returned.” says Graham, “I then called the job centre and they couldn?t help, instead they directed me the Backing Young Britain** website. This is a great idea but with no contact details and no practical support to help businesses back young Britain, we once again drew a blank.”

This seems to be in complete contradiction to a declaration that Lord Mandelson made while visiting Nottingham this August. He said: “We are looking to the private sector, public sector and third sector to help us to create places and opportunities for young people to make sure, as a result, we do not see a lost generation.”

Eventually Graham was contacted about a youth employment symposium being held at Westminster this November. The fee to attend was £550 but did not offer any content or even a forum for small businesses.

“This is an astounding oversight on the Government’s part.” says Graham Hill. “Most large corporate are shedding jobs at the moment. But good quality SME?s are taking on staff. These are the businesses that the Government should be targeting and helping to employ young people, either through modern apprenticeships or by facilitating work placements.”

Verbatim is calling on all small businesses to consider taking on a young person as an apprentice or for a work placement and is challenging the Government to help small businesses tap into the youth market giving young people a future.

For more information:
Future Jobs Fund – http://campaigns.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/futurejobsfund
Backing Young Britain – http://interactive.bis.gov.uk/backingyoungbritain

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