Miliband pledges 'real jobs guarantee' for youngsters


Ed Miliband: "My ambition is to conquer long-term youth unemployment"

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Ed Miliband has pledged to "conquer" youth unemployment, as he said Labour would guarantee a job to unemployed young people if they came to power.

The party's "real jobs guarantee" would offer six months' work to those aged 18 to 24 who had been jobless for a year.

The Labour leader said the "only answer to a job crisis was jobs" and the £600m policy would be funded by a bankers' bonus tax.

Ministers say Labour cannot afford the pledge and its past plans have failed.

Meanwhile the coalition's £1bn Youth Contract, launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, will provide £2,275 to employers to take on a total of 160,000 18- to 24-year-olds for six months.

'Real chance'

In a speech to a one-day Labour conference in Coventry, Mr Miliband said that if Labour were in power, the first line of its Budget would be "real jobs, real wages, a real chance for our young people".


It was in this same venue, before the last election, that Gordon Brown invited voters to take a second look at Labour. Ed Miliband is doing much the same thing.

Opinion polls suggest voters don't know enough about him - or his party's policies.

So he came here not only with an announcement on youth jobs but also determined to tell us more about himself.

He talked about his late father - the Marxist academic Ralph Miliband - who taught him the value of hard work.

He didn't say he also taught him the theory of surplus value, though he probably did. Today the former policy wonk was determinedly talking human.

But he also knows it's important to re-establish Labour's credibility on the economy and highlight its priorities. Hence taxing the bankers to pay for jobs for young people.

But critics would say it's all too easy to promise to take money from the rich.

Regaining economic credibility might require doing more to tell voters what difficult decisions the party would take - what Labour would be prepared to cut in order to fund spending in an age of austerity.

"To business we say, we'll pay the wages, if you provide the training," he said. "To young people: if you're out of work for a year we'll guarantee you the opportunity to work."

Labour's plan would involve the government paying a business to cover 25 hours of work per week at the minimum wage for six months - £4,000 per job.

The firm would then cover a minimum of 10 hours a week training and development, focused on helping the young person to get a permanent job with them or another firm.

But Mr Miliband also warned young people they have a responsibility to take the chance and that "saying 'No' is not an option".

Those taking part will be expected to turn up for work, as well as looking for a full-time job and complete training, or face "tough consequences" - including possible benefit sanctions.

However the party's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, appeared not to know the details of the policy when questioned about it on the BBC's Daily Politics.

'Fully costed'

Asked how much Labour's bankers' bonus would raise, Ms Harman said: "I'll have to get back to you on that." She also appeared not to know how much the jobs policy would cost.

She said it had been "worked out and fully costed" and apologised for not having the figure "at my fingertips".

Shortly afterwards she told the BBC News Channel that the bank bonus tax would raise at "a conservative estimate" about £1bn - however Labour expects it to raise £2bn.

Ms Harman struggled to give the figures of how much a bankers' tax would raise

The Labour jobs initiative is similar to the Future Jobs Fund scheme established by the last Labour government but scrapped by the coalition, which said it was too short-termist and overly focused on the public sector.

But Labour say this scheme is more "intensive" than its predecessor, with guaranteed training and job help.

Mr Miliband said the initiative was different from the government's Youth Contract in that it guaranteed a paid job on the minimum wage and on-the-job training, saying one of the government's work experience scheme was "the only work programme in history which does not guarantee work".


Labour argues the government's scheme subsidises employers without creating new posts - while they would pay for the full wages and ensure that if not enough businesses came forward, the gap would be filled by the state and voluntary sectors.

But Conservative Party co-chairman Baroness Warsi said the previous Labour government's Future Jobs Fund had "squandered millions" on short-term placements.

"This government is committed to getting our country back on track. Labour must stop these irresponsible calls for more spending, more borrowing and more debt in the middle of a debt crisis."

And the Lib Dems said the Labour initiative was a "pale comparison" of the government's youth contract scheme and did not stand up to scrutiny.

"Just like with previous job schemes which Labour dreamt up while driving the economy towards a cliff edge, Ed Miliband's plan does not provide jobs that last," said Jo Swinson, a ministerial aide to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

"As soon as a government stops paying the full wage, employers would have no incentive to keep someone on."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    This country is in trouble, amongst other problems facing us we have rising unemployment, a national debt to reduce, unacceptable levels of youth unemployment, a looming recession and so on. I am sick and tired of eye catching but unworkable proposals from all parties. Is it to much to ask that all the three main parties form a coalition and work together to sort these problems out

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    The issue of long term youth unemployment isnt a simple one , there are much bigger issues that will help reduce but not eradicate in the long term . A curriculum and schools system that turns out students at least more ready than at present for the real world , better basic arithmetic and reading and writing skills , better parenting , funded training schemes , employer involvement in programs .

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    How much money is this Bankers tax expected to raise. A couple of weeks ago Ed balls said it was going to build 25,000 new homes!! Can it really pay for all these initiatives being announced by Labour. I doubt it. Labour should be way ahead in the polls at the moment, but the reason they are not is that they are not adding anything to the debate on cuts, they look out of their depth!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Given that the typical cycle between the Cons and Labour is 10 years then most youth unemployment will have fallen because the baby boomers who are currently having to work longer will finally have retired leaving that massive skills gap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    If companies have real work to be done, they will already be employing people. Therefore this job scheme is likely to displace regular employed workers.

    However I am in favour of this scheme if these trainees are used to work on tasks that are normally outsourced to other countries (eg foreign call centres, garment manufacturers, etc).


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