The news comes the day after it was revealed that that 1,163,000 16-24 year olds were NEET, that’s ‘not in education, employment or training’ to you and me.
The number in this age group who are NEET increased in the quarter to September by 67,000. Clegg revealed the new contract will, over three years, provide at least 410,000 work places for 18-24 year olds. This will include a wage subsidy for employers worth £2,275 – half of the youth national minimum wage – that will last for six months.
Those who refuse to sign up to the Youth Contract will be considered for “mandatory work activity”, an ominous sounding activity if ever there was one. Those who drop out of work experience placements or jobs without good reason will face losing their benefits too.
Speaking at a college in Leeds, Clegg said: “It’s heart-wrenching when you hear from young people how demoralising it is for them to be sitting at home week in week out, sending out one job application after the next and often not getting any answer or explanation as to why they are not getting a job.
“It’s a very big new initiative which means that every single unemployed young person will have the opportunity to earn money or learn.”
Labour though have leapt on the offensive, querying where the government plans to get the money from to pay for the scheme. Clegg has said that the initiative will not be paid for by one single tax or a spending measure but that the government was looking at “a number of savings” to find the cash.
It is expected that Chancellor George Osbourne will reveal the nature of these “savings” next week in his Autumn Statement.