Nick Clegg scheme will pay firm to wake jobless teens

Nick Clegg meets apprentices Nick Clegg has urged firms to be "creative" to get young people back into work

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The government is paying a company to wake teenagers up in an effort to get them back to work, under a new scheme.

The firm, in the north-east of England, said it was "just one small part of the mentoring approach we have got".

And young people were also driven to interviews and helped to get into the habit of "turning up on time" to jobs.

Nick Clegg's £126m Youth Contract aims to cut the number of England's "Neets" - 16 and 17-year-olds not in education, employment or training.

The deputy prime minister has encouraged the firms chosen to deliver the scheme to be "creative" in their approach to getting poorly-qualified and often troubled youngsters into the workforce.

Percentage of 16 and 17-year-olds who are Neet in England

  • South East: 8,740 (4.8%)
  • London: 5,660 (3.6%)
  • East of England: 6,590 (4.9%)
  • South West: 5,390 (4.7%)
  • West Midlands: 6,460 (5.0%)
  • East Midlands: 4,800 (4.5%)
  • Yorkshire and the Humber: 7,110 (6.1%)
  • North West: 9,810 (5.8%)
  • North East: 4,340 (6.9%)

Pertemps People Development Group, a national training organisation awarded a Youth Contract in the north-east said it had found wake-up calls a useful way "to help young people develop a routine".

'Personal relationship'

Marketing director Paul King said youngsters who didn't have stable families and had dropped out of school "appreciated the fact that that there is someone there who cares for them".

Mentors were encouraged to "build up a personal relationship with these people" and would also drive them to interviews or jobs and instil in them "the importance of turning up on time".

Mr King said lateness was one of the most common reasons for young people being sacked - and ex-offenders were often better organised and more punctual than some of the Neets his organisation was trying to help.

Charities and businesses selected to help the 55,000 Neet youngsters return to college or find jobs will be paid by results.

Another company, in Yorkshire, will use ex-soldiers to deliver motivational sessions to disaffected young people through the Heroes to Inspire campaign.

The organisations get up to £2,200 for every young person helped, but the full amount will only be paid if the youngster is still in full-time education, training or work six months later.

Mr Clegg, who in 2011 vowed to stand up for "alarm clock" Britain - basic-rate taxpayers who get up in the dark to get ready for work - said the firms selected to deliver the scheme should "be as creative and innovative as they can".

Almost one in five young people aged between 16 and 24 are classified as Neet - with the most recent figure standing at 1,163,000.

The three-year programme will focus on 16 to 17-year-old Neets with no A*-to-C GCSEs who are at the highest risk of long-term disengagement.

Mr Clegg's scheme came in for heavy criticism from Labour when it was launched, with shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne saying it would not help 95% of young unemployed people.

Labour called the scheme "too small and much too late" and unions said it would not make up for cuts in other areas.

Chris Keates, leader of the Nasuwt teachers' union, has accused Mr Clegg of being responsible for an increase in Neets by scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance.

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