Job Guarantees are the way forward
It is good to see that the Government is moving to improve the guarantee of jobs for long-term unemployed young people.
The Future Jobs Fund has already supported the creation of 47,000 new jobs, and the announcement of extra places (including apprenticeships) in retail and other industries is excellent news. This approach should be adopted as the model for all the Government’s employment programmes. The Government has also announced that the FJF will be used to create jobs for young people when they have been unemployed for 10 months, not 12, as was originally announced. This is sensible administratively – once you have been unemployed for 12 months you have to take part in the Flexible New Deal. If the FJF eligibility cut-off was any later, someone who had been delayed (by illness, for instance) could be in the middle of interviews for an FJF job and then suddenly be yanked off to take part in FND.
I’d welcome this decision in any case: the priority has to be to help unemployed young people before they have been out of work for so long that they find businesses are wary about recruiting them. Helping young unemployed people to avoid this is a particularly tough nut to crack – past experience shows that employers aren’t impressed by a CV where your most recent entry is one of the low quality ‘work experience’ programmes unemployed people are required to take part in.
The attraction of the Future Jobs Fund is that it gives participants recent experience of a real job. FJF jobs are paid at least the minimum wage, which means that they are far more likely to be valued by participants – and by employers.
The Future Jobs Fund marks a real break in employment policy. The Government has accepted that the recession means that we can’t leave job creation to the market and that paying a real wage is a matter of effective labour market policy – as well as fairness. That is why we hope that Job Guarantees will be the hallmark of future employment policy.