Future Jobs Fund decision 'abandons' young people


Man walking past Jobcentre

The government is being accused of abandoning young job seekers in what is already a difficult jobs market.

Today (18 March) is the last day for applications to the Future Jobs Fund, a £1 billion scheme set up by the last Labour government to help mainly young unemployed people back into work.

It gave businesses in unemployment hotspots up to £6,500 for creating jobs that would last at least six months.

The Work Foundation says the decision has come at the wrong time.

"I think the risk of cutting the Future Jobs Fund at the moment is that there's nothing to really take its place," said the foundation's Steven Overell.

One month after the programme half the people that were on it are back on the dole - it failed
Prime Minister David Cameron

"If people have an experience of being unemployed when they're young, it dramatically increases their chances of being unemployed later in life."

However, Prime Minister David Cameron told Newsbeat the scheme had failed, and defended the government's decision to end it a year early and save £290 million.

"The Future Jobs Fund has been one of the most ineffective job schemes there's been," the prime minister said.

"The really damning evidence is that it's a six-month programme, but one month after the programme [has finished] half the people that were on it are back on the dole. It failed."

'I'm really proud'

Ben, 25, teaches sport to children in the Preston area and thinks the fund should be maintained.

Image caption Ben got a job teaching sport and thinks the fund should be kept going

"I was one of the first batch of Future Jobs Fund candidates at Premier Sport.

"Three of the 200 were successful in getting a franchise opportunity and I was one of the three, so I'm really proud of that."

He disagrees with the prime minister's verdict on the scheme.

"I think I'm proof that the Future Jobs Fund didn't fail. Without it, I wouldn't be where I am today."

Image caption Daniel ended up back on the dole after doing the FJF programme

However, the argument that the scheme is too expensive, and ineffective at creating long-term work, is backed up by some people.

Daniel, 19, got a position through the Future Jobs Fund at the Trax Windsport Centre in Lytham St Annes.

Unfortunately, it didn't last.

"After the six months I had to more or less go back on jobseeker's allowance because there wasn't a job here. It's depressing."

Apprenticeships 'boost'

The government says it recognises the need to help young people and that it's taking measures to help.

Work experience rules are changing to allow eight weeks on placements, rather than two, without losing benefits.

Jobcentre Plus around the country are working with local businesses to make these opportunities available.

The government believes they are a better route into work and says it's committed to increasing apprenticeships for adults over the age of 19 by an extra 75,000 a year.

The Work Programme also starts in the summer.

It aims to help all long-term unemployed back into work, and young people over 18 will be referred onto it after nine months of unemployment.