Youth unemployment is a priority for South East

Dole Street teenager Iain Duncan Smith wants to tackle youth unemployment as a priority

Iain Duncan Smith has made it his priority since becoming Work and Pensions Secretary to get people off benefits and back into work.

His motto has been "work will always pay".

And when it comes to youth unemployment Mr Duncan Smith pulls no punches.

He recently claimed that employers are having to hire foreign workers because young Britons think being a reality television star is the only career worth having.

He's defended his department's policy of giving unemployed youngsters work experience placements in exchange for benefits and says it's better to be a shelf stacker than a 'job snob'.

Political editor Louise Stewart interviewed Mr Duncan Smith after he found out more about a new apprenticeship scheme launched by Kent County Council

Tackling unemployment

Mr Duncan Smith took that message to Kent today where he, along with the council's leader, Paul Carter, were in Maidstone to meet five apprentices who have gained work placements since a new scheme was launched in April.

The council's scheme is focused on Kent's young people.


Job Centre

• South East region - 5.2% youth unemployment

• Kent - 7.4% youth unemployment

• Thanet - 13.6% youth unemployment

• Hastings - 11.3% youth unemployment

• Medway towns - 9.4% youth unemployment

• Tunbridge Wells - 4% youth unemployment

• Tandridge - 4.6% youth unemployment

Kent County Council has invested £2 million from its Big Society Fund.

That figure pooled with various employment subsidies means it could cost employers as little as £52 per week to get involved - depending on the young person's age and the length of time they have been unemployed.

Kent County Council has launched the initiative because it says tackling youth unemployment is one of its top priorities.

It needs to be.

The recession has hit young people the hardest, with the numbers seeking employment doubling over a four year period.

The most recent jobless figures from April 2012 showed the number of 18-24 year olds out of work and claiming Job Seekers Allowance had reached 8,990 - that's 7.4%.

Although the South East, and Kent in particular, is seen as an affluent part of the country - youth unemployment in the county is higher than the regional average which is 5.2%.

It is also only marginally below the national average at 7.8%.

Inactive generation?

Kent is not an anomaly.

Thanet is the area most affected by youth unemployment where it has reached 13.6% - more than two and a half times higher than the regional average.

In Hastings it's 11.3% - again, considerably higher than the regional and UK average.

And in the Medway towns youth unemployment is 9.4%.

Of course there are parts of the South East where it's much lower.

In Tunbridge Wells it's well below the national average at 4% and in Tandridge in Surrey it's 4.6%

But what these figures show is that youth unemployment is worryingly high.

And both the government and local councils need to work together to tackle it if they're to prevent a generation of people who are economically inactive.

Louise Stewart Article written by Louise Stewart Louise Stewart Political editor, South East

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  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Apprenticeships need to come back one way or another. Youngsters leaving school without qualifications can do well for themselves if they get apprenticeships with electrical, plumbing, car mechanics or kitchen fitting etc. companies. A 16yo living at home can manage fine on an apprentice's wage but minimum wage legislation has made it impossible to take on trainees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I have been unemployed in Thanet for a few years i have got the qulifications but none of the so called experience. I have also been on a couple of these 'Work placement courses' but ive been to a couple of Job interviews, and when they asked what experience i tell them what ive done in the placement but i have had a couple of employer say that as its not PAID experience it does not matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    As a resident of Hastings since childhood,I am not surprised by these figures.Our infrastructure is and always has been rubbish which in turn has always stifled investment and innovation therefore no useful employment for young or old is created on the scale that is needed.
    No government has been willing to invest here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    @ 1. SeasideSteve

    Does going elsewhere work for some? yes, but when you look at the unemployed figures VS average number of jobs nationwide it's obviously not going to work! Just because that doesn't work for people doesn't mean they don't want to work.

    Bus services (esp outside of the SE bubble) are not good. And trains are way too expensive esp for travelling to min wage or similar jobs o_O

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Employment (or possibly employability) in Thanet has been dire for years, possibly because of years of local political incompetence. In the 1970s at 19 I got on a train and found work elsewhere. There is work within commutable distances for those prepared to go look for it. Not difficult, it is less than 2 hours to London,... if you want to work.



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