UK Politics

Work and training employment plans needed says author

One solution to unemployment is "real work and real training" says the social entrepreneur and author Colin Crooks, who gives his views on how to get everyone, not just young people, back to work.

Unemployment is a much more profound issue than politicians like to admit.

It's especially concentrated in deprived areas that they seem to ignore; where people have no voice. Just focussing on youth unemployment is to my mind a big mistake.

A generation of our people were brought up in these areas expecting to get work in the local factory, and were not educated for anything else.

When those jobs disappeared they were left totally stranded. In many places unemployment is as high as 50% or even 60% and multiple government schemes have made very little difference.

For me, these people represent a "let-down generation" - the victims of a terrible double-whammy.

There are currently 10 million people without a single GCSE to their name - they can't even apply for most of the jobs on offer.

Massive impact

But the secret to education and to employability is attitude and children's attitudes are largely determined by their parents.

Home life - not school life - dictates more than 90% of a child's education.

Any investment in jobs and skills for parents that helps them be positive role models will have a massive impact on their children.

Parents want to work, and work is the best way to engage them in training and learning - which in turn rubs off on their kids. But where are those jobs?

The standard government schemes - get people to job search and help them with their CVs - miss the point completely; CVs are honed at work not in classrooms.

The government needs to help create more jobs in these areas that otherwise just get left behind.

I've run social enterprises creating jobs for more than 20 years.

'Real work'

Social enterprises like Eco-Computers in Deptford, south London can create work for people.

They don't want charity or grants: they want contracts. With real clients they can create real work and real training.

Government, local authorities and big business should contract directly with organisations like these that understand the issues people face and actively WANT to create jobs for the unemployed.

They should not be taken for granted as so often happens in centrally run work schemes.

By doing that we will breathe life back into these communities and create positive adult role models and real prospects for our young people.

* Mr Crooks was a guest on Wednesday's Daily Politics with new Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps and shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Labour's Rachel Reeves, to debate his film, which can be seen on iPlayer for seven days (UK only).

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