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View from Westminster - March 1, 2012
3:00pm Wednesday 29th February 2012 in MP's View - Mark Garnier
From time to time there are campaigns launched against government policies. Depending on your point of view, these have merit or otherwise. However, I have rarely seen a more misguided and destructive campaign than the one mounted against the government’s work experience programme.
Time and again I hear of people leaving school who are caught in that catch 22 situation where employers are very reluctant to take on inexperienced staff, but without the experience needed to get a job, they cannot find their first job to get that much needed experience in the first place. This is backed up by many, many employers who have told me, and others, that experience counts for more than anything. Moreover, those who have lost their jobs soon find their skills weaken after a prolonged period of unemployment.
So to address these points, and to specifically give 16 to 24 years olds who have never worked before that important opportunity to gain real life work experience – even if it is of a menial nature – the government created the work experience programme: eight weeks of real work with a real company whilst still receiving benefits. Many big organisations signed up to this, and in response to the criticism that many people are ‘swinging the lead’ with regard benefits, the government also created a scheme that people who seem reluctant to enter employment will be required to do work for their communities in order to continue to receive their benefits (but this is only extreme cases).
Campaigners against this have argued that it provides what amounts to slave labour for big corporates and have put such pressure on those companies that have signed up that they are now withdrawing from the scheme. The result? That countless 16 to 24 will now not receive the opportunity to voluntarily improve both their CVs and their life skills, and thus face a tougher grind finding work without any work experience. With 740 16 to 24 year olds unemployed in Wyre Forest, this campaign is having a direct effect on a significant number of local people’s chances. I want to see that figure reduce to zero as soon as possible – my Jobs fair on March the 29th is one way of tackling this – but to achieve this we need to give our young unemployed as many chances and advantages as possible. By taking away their opportunity to become even more attractive to employers, society is taking a step backwards.
CONTACT YOUR MP
Email: mark.garnier.mp@ parliament.uk.
Telephone: 020 7219 7198 or 01562 746771.
Write: 9a Lower Mill Street, Kidderminster, DY11 6UU, or House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.