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The government’s youth contract is a farce… OFFICIAL !

Posted on: 27th Mar 2014

Anybody involved in trying to actually deliver the Government’s Youth Contract already knew it was a farce and today a group of MPs reviewing it made it official.

The government’s youth contract is not enough to tackle the scale of youth unemployment”, a group of MPs has said. The youth contract provides £1bn for a range of schemes aimed at getting young people into work.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said the report showed the government’s plan for youth jobs “is failing and we need to change course fast”. He added: “This is now a very loud wake-up call, at a time when the country is in a double-dip recession made in Downing Street.”

The report talks about many reasons why it is failing miserably, such as it being largely targeted at 16-18 year olds without a SINGLE GCSE. This is a ridiculously narrow and meaningless criteria. Is it really only those without a single qualification that needs help? I think the average 8 year old could work out the answer to that question!!

The report talks about difficulties in identifying people who qualify. (That’ll be because the government cuts have ripped out the infrastructure that tracked and worked with challenged young people (youth workers and Connexions) in what was some unbelievably short-termist approaches to savings that is now coming back to haunt!) !!!

But the real gorilla in the committee room was not mentioned but it’s a massive barrier to effective implementation – the inconceivably absurd levels of bureaucracy and punitive commercial terms attached to the contract.

The paperwork and administration involved for the youth contract and indeed many other such government schemes is truly astounding. Much of it is duplication and pointless bureaucracy. To actually deliver appropriate reporting and control it could reasonably be cut by two thirds. The photo above is of the paperwork for a 6 day course for 15 young people!! And what it means is that more time is being taken up on admin and paperwork than in working with the young people and that is surely outrageous. Why is the report not screaming about this?

The other major barrier is around actually finding quality providers to deliver the programmes. Providers only get paid for delivery 6 months in arrears dependent on successful outcomes, i.e. getting jobs for these young people without a single GCSE, who are competing with the other 2 million unemployed. This is a cash flow and commercial risk of epic proportions that few quality providers are prepared to take on. We know of at least 3 major providers of programmes for NEET young people who declined to even bid for the work because it was simply set up to fail.

If one was being cynical you could look at the T&Cs attached to delivery of the youth contract and think perhaps they were designed to be unachievable such that the much touted “£1billion programme” will not actually cost the government anywhere near that! Is it perhaps another elaborate case of Government Spin?

The risk of 1 million unemployed young people to the country is immense; social unrest, development of an underclass, to say nothing of the welfare costs and the immense waste of human potential. In light of this it is nothing short of an outrage that the government’s response to it in the youth contract is so totally and fatally flawed