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'Red tape binding youth jobs drive'
Attempts to get more than a million young people into work are being hampered by excessive bureaucracy and central government control, council leaders have claimed.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said a new, more local approach to tackling youth unemployment could cut the number of young jobless people by a fifth. A report complained of an "overly complicated" system of tackling youth unemployment, with 33 different national schemes, covering 13 different age boundaries, costing £15 billion a year.
More than 94,000 people completed hair and beauty courses last year, even though there were only 18,000 new jobs in the sector, while in construction, around 123,000 people were trained for around 275,000 advertised jobs - more than two jobs for every qualified person, said the LGA.
David Simmonds of the LGA, said: "Youth unemployment is a worrying trend for us all, particularly long-term youth unemployment which has doubled since 2008 and continues to grow. All the evidence in this report points to the success that local organisations, such as councils, businesses and education providers, can achieve when working together to ensure young people are given the very best chances to get into work or training, but this is being hampered by successive centrally-driven government approaches.
"This has long been a major frustration for councils, who know their young people in their area and have a responsibility to look after their welfare. Councils are in a unique position and can play a pivotal role in identifying young people that are likely to slip into periods of long-term unemployment. But we need to be given the powers to prevent this happening and help equip future jobseekers with the skills, confidence and real-life experience they need to find work in their area.
"Councils have generally had more power to join up funding to help young people under 16, but it is vital that we are able to hold schools to account for ensuring pupils are receiving top quality work experience and careers advice." The LGA said councils should be the main commissioners of employment programmes aimed at young people, adding that current attempts were not working.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Youth unemployment has been a big challenge for a decade but we've seen encouraging signs recently with the number of long-term unemployed young people falling last month. Through Jobcentre Plus we're already working locally with businesses and councils to help young people into work so unemployment continues to fall, and our Youth Contract will help nearly 500,000 young people over the next three years. The Government said it was also launching a new traineeship programme in the autumn which will help those who do not have the right experience or qualifications to get an apprenticeship or find a job."
Employment Minister Mark Hoban acknowledged the need to do better but said councils did not need more authority as the system was broadly working.
He told BBC News: "What we have seen is a reduction in the number of young people who are unemployed. Absolutely we can work better. There is more we need to do, I accept that. We need to get the local partnerships that are in place to work more effectively, work closer together and deliver some of the real improvements in employment that I've seen when I talk to local communities.
"We can't be complacent about this, I'm not complacent about it, the Government isn't." He went on: "The acid test is not how many departments are involved, but are we delivering the services that young people need to get them into work. We're seeing that, we do need to work harder to do that, but I don't think moving deckchairs around is going to be the answer to the problem."