Category Archives: Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce

Council bosses and Labour leader David Green in day of talks to reduce youth unemployment

Bradford Council’s leader joined forces with Ed Miliband yesterday to discuss tackling youth unemployment.

Councillor David Green met the Labour Party leader and senior figures of various local authorities from across the UK for the Youth Jobs Taskforce in Birmingham.

Councils in Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield were among those sharing ideas on how to combat unemployment in people aged 18 to 24 years. Also present were members of the private and voluntary sectors.

Figures provided by The Office for National Statistics last October showed that the number of people aged under 24 claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Bradford for more than six months had risen by 542 per cent since 2008.

The Bradford West parliamentary constituency has suffered particularly high rates of young jobless.
Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, Coun Green said: “The major thing we need in Bradford is we need to create new jobs and ensure there is a link between training or work experience and jobs so that people get work at the end of their training.

“We need to increase the number of jobs in Bradford district to make sure people’s skills are utilised.”
Coun Green also welcomed input and ideas from other authorities.

He said: “It has been refreshing. There was a wide-ranging group of people and a wide-ranging number of discussions.

“It was good to share information between local authorities.

“It was a very positive day, with lots of food for thought. We will be continuing to meet together to continue to learn from people’s experiences and to develop policies that will be applicable in all local areas.

“There are a number of interesting initiatives all over the country. Other authorities are doing some great work, working with the private sector to get young people into vacancies that arise in the private sector.

We have had some involvement, but not as far as others.”

Coun Green praised apprenticeship programmes and apprenticeship training agencies that are in place
throughout the country and suggested at something similar for Bradford.
He said: “There is a whole raft of different measures that are successful across the country. In Glasgow they are looking at youth unemployment amongst graduates.

“We were looking at the best ways to tackle youth unemployment issues.

“The idea is to start working on the next stage, with a view to the private and voluntary sectors, and learn from the best practices in other areas.”

Labour councils are helping young people into work

Labour councils are helping young people into work

By Liam Byrne

The Guardian, Thursday 31 January

Government programmes are failing young people, with almost one in five unemployed. Our youth jobs taskforce is fighting back.

As Britain’s youth jobs crisis deepens, it’s time for ministers to hand local council leaders the tools they need to make a difference.

Britain’s youth unemployment crisis remains stark. Nearly 40% of people out of work are under the age of 25. That’s one of the highest rates in the western world. In the last jobs stats, youth unemployment rose again. Nationally nearly one in five young people is out of work and this is costing us a fortune. Over a billion pounds a year in dole bills. And the cost isn’t just short term. Acevo (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) estimates that today’s rate of youth unemployment will cost us £6.3bn per annum in lost economic output.

But now it’s clear just who is leading the fightback. All over Britain it’s local Labour councils leading the way in building bridges for young people, from school or unemployment, into real local jobs.

Last year, as youth unemployment hit the million mark, I asked the leaders of 10 councils where youth unemployment is highest to come together, to share ideas, and to show Labour nationally what works to get young people into jobs. In the past 12 months, despite horrendous budget settlements, those leaders have begun to revolutionise the way we get our young people jobs in Britain’s 21st-century economy.

Cities such as Sheffield are transforming the way they identify young people at risk of graduating to a life of unemployment, so they can target special additional support. Bradford council is building “industrial centres of excellence”: small schools of 300 students aged 14-19 offering enterprise skills, paid work experience and business-led qualifications – all tailored to what’s actually available in the local jobs market.

Manchester is widening access to apprenticeships with its “apprentice ambassadors”, and a new Ucas-style clearing house to match students with apprenticeship offers well before they leave school, conditional on making the grades.

Wales, Glasgow and Birmingham are reinventing the highly successful future jobs fund to make sure that young people out of work are given paid opportunities as a springboard into local careers. Newham has even created Workplace, a one-stop job brokerage that places 5,000 local residents into jobs each year.

Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield have created “apprenticeship agencies”, organising training and work opportunities for thousands of apprentices with their cities’ diverse business base of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). Sandwell council in the West Midlands is guaranteeing three months’ work experience for every 16- to 24-year-old to ensure the borough’s young people are job ready.

Today, we publish these ideas and many more in the first report of Labour’s youth jobs taskforce, setting down just what can be done with a bit of can-do spirit.

But I can’t hide what disappointed me as I travelled round Britain listening to ideas that made a difference. The harsh reality is government programmes are failing. In fact, fewer than 6,000 young people have been helped into sustained jobs: that’s just 3.4% of young people on the Work Programme. The Youth Contract, launched with much fanfare by the deputy prime minister last year, is working so well that the government has decided to keep its results a secret.

Worse, I’ve heard loud and clear that the Department for Work and Pensions is now too often a handbrake on progress. Most council leaders I speak to have good things to say about their local jobcentre team – but Stalin-esque ministers are stopping people on the frontline getting on with what works best. “They’re good people, trying to do the right thing,” said one. “but they’re trapped in some very bad systems.” “DWP has been unwilling to engage locally,” said another. I heard the same story wherever I went.

The best thing we can give our young people is a chance. Labour councils are now showing day in and day out, that where there’s a will, there’s a way. With councils blazing ahead, and the national Work Programme in chaos, it’s time DWP ministers got behind local council leaders and took down the roadblocks to reform.

The first report of Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce, Our youth employment emergency: Labour fights back, can be downloaded here.

Give us the tools to tackle youth jobs crisis, say councils

Give us the tools to tackle youth jobs crisis, say councils

Labour councils demand new freedoms to fight for youth jobs as Work Programme fails young people

 Labour today called for new freedoms for councils to tackle the youth jobs crisis as analysis of the government’s Work Programme showed the programme found jobs for just 3.3% of young people.

Labour’s call came at the first summit of its Youth Jobs Taskforce, chaired by Ed Miliband in Birmingham. The Taskforce brings together the leaders of the 10 councils where youth unemployment is highest.

The summit will review a report from Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Liam Byrne showing how Labour councils are beginning to revolutionise the bridge from school to work for young people in areas where youth unemployment is worst.

The report shows:

  • There are still almost a million young people out of work – yet the flagship Work Programme has a success rate of just 3.35% for young people.
  • Labour Councils are taking radical steps to build a new bridge from school to local jobs, reinventing the Future Jobs Fund, establishing UCAS style clearing houses for apprenticeships offers to young people, and creating Apprenticeship Agencies that place young people into new opportunities with local SMEs.
  • Council leaders widely feel held back by a ‘statist’ Department for Work & Pensons which is unable to innovate locally.
  • Council leaders now want new freedoms to develop plan that fit for purpose for their local economies; a simpler funding regime that joins up skills and jobs support for unemployed young people, and more opportunities to involve employers and colleges in schools advice and guidance provision

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne said,

“As Government schemes fail, Labour’s local councils are beginning to commandeer the task of getting our young people into work.

“All over Britain, Labour’s council leaders are refusing to stand by and watch young people join the dole queues. They’re taking charge and building a completely new bridge from the class-room to a job.

“Labour will not stand by and watch this government abandon a generation to the scrap heap. Just because we’re not in government doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference. All over Britain its now Labour councils leading the fight to give our young people the chance to work.”


  1. 1.     This government is failing Britain’s young people

There are almost a million young people out of work, but this government’s welfare to work schemes are failing. New figures published today by Labour shows that Ministers flagship Work Programme has got just 3.35% of 18-24 year olds on the scheme into a sustained job.

Only 5,920 young people have achieved a job outcome under the Work Programme so far, of the 177,000 who participated in the programme.

  1. 2.     Labour Councils are building a new bridge for young people from schools to local jobs

 In five key ways Labour authorities are leading the way in the fight against youth unemployment:

  1. Stopping problems happening in the first place. Cities like Sheffield are transforming the way they identify young people at risk of graduating to a life of unemployment, so they can target special, additional support.
  2. Getting young people job ready. Councils like Bradford are building Industrial Centres of Excellence, small schools of 300 students aged 14-19 with enterprise skills, paid work experience and business-led qualifications – all tailored to what’s actually available in the local jobs market.
  3. Taking apprenticeships directly into schools. Manchester is revolutionising access to apprenticeships with its Apprentice Ambassadors and a new UCAS-style clearing house to match students with apprenticeship offers well before they leave school, conditional on making the grades.
  4. Connecting SMEs to young people. Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield have created Apprenticeship Agencies, organising training and work opportunities for literally thousands of apprentices with their cities’ diverse business base of SMEs.
  5. Reinventing the Future Jobs Fund. Wales, Glasgow and Birmingham are reinventing the highly successful Future Jobs Fund to make sure that young people out of work are given paid opportunities as a spring-board into local careers.

DWP is getting in the way

Many of the Councils we met with reported poor and deteriorating relationships with the DWP nationally, though relationships with local jobcentres were often strong. It was felt that there was too little consultation by the DWP before nationally mandated programmes were stream-rollered through.

The DWP was often seen to be setting policy and commissioning contracts without regard to local needs. The result was that Councils’ employment programmes were often left to fill in important gaps. DWP was also considered to be too inflexible when it came to issues surrounding data sharing, which prevented local public services from being joined up.

Councils’ views on DWP

“DWP has been unwilling to engage locally, often embarking on nationally mandated initiatives with little or no consultation locally.”

“It seems that DWP is increasingly delivering an agenda determined in Whitehall with little or no regard to local circumstances.”

“Provision designed at the national level often makes incorrect assumptions about a given shape and size of local infrastructure.”

“A nationally driven process and inability to share data [have] meant that we couldn’t join up local public services to support people to achieve a better outcome.”

Councils call for more powers to tackle Britain’s youth job crisis

  • The freedom to deliver a plan that is fit for purpose in their areas. Different places have different economics. Businesses need different things. And the precise causes of youth unemployment vary. Skills needs may differ. The size of the challenge varies. Councils therefore need the freedom to tailor action – like job readiness training – to what’s needed in the local economy.
  • A simpler funding regime that joins up skills and jobs support for unemployed young people.  The current system is too complicated, and does not align the provision of skills with local employers’ needs.
  • The opportunity to involve employers and colleges in schools advice and guidance provision. This means that students can learn much earlier about the full range of local opportunities and what employers need.

A copy of the report Labour Fights Back can be downloaded here.

Labour’s Call for a Compulsory Jobs Guarantee

Labour’s compulsory jobs guarantee for the long-term unemployed

Labour will today call for a compulsory Jobs Guarantee for long-term unemployed adults.
In an article for Politics Home calling for a One Nation approach to welfare reform shadow chancellor Ed Balls says that, under the jobs guarantee, government will ensure there is a job for every adult who is long-term unemployed and people out of work will be obliged to take up those jobs or face losing benefits.

Initially the guarantee would be for adults who are out of work for 24 months or more, but we would seek to reduce this to 18 or 12 months over time.

There are currently 129,400 adults over the age of 25 who have been out of work for 24 months or more – a rise of 88 percent since the same month last year and a rise of 146 per cent in the last two years.

The £1 billion costs can be funded by reversing the government’s decision to stop tax relief on pension contributions for people earning over £150,000 being limited to 20 per cent.

Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, in an article for Politics Home, said:

“A One Nation approach to welfare reform means government has a responsibility to help people into work and support those who cannot, but those who can work must be required to take up jobs or lose benefits as a result – no ifs or buts. Britain needs real welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works, not divisive, nasty and misleading smears from an out of touch and failing government.”

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

“This government’s welfare revolution is in tatters. The Work Programme is worse than doing nothing, universal credit is descending into universal chaos and George Osborne’s last Budget was such a disaster that more than a third of a million people extra are now forecast to join the dole queue. What we need to bring the welfare bill down is a tough but fair plan to get Britain back to work – not another raid on tax credits from working families.”

Ed Balls’ full article for Politics Home can be found below:

“Britain needs real welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works”

Look behind the rhetoric and we will see the true character of this Conservative-led government in 2013.

Day after day we see Tory and Lib Dem Ministers claim they are targeting the work-shy and benefit ‘scroungers’. But it’s no wonder even Cabinet Ministers have told the newspapers they are uncomfortable with these smears. Because the truth is very different.

Two-thirds of people who will be hit by David Cameron and George Osborne’s real terms cuts to tax credits and benefits are in work. Millions of pensioners will also pay more in April as their ‘granny tax’ takes effect. And next week child benefit will be taken away from thousands of middle income families.

Yet while hitting striving families and pensioners on modest and middle incomes, David Cameron’s government is this year giving a £3 billion tax cut to the very richest people in the country. By squandering the ability to claim that we are all in this together, the government has made a major economic and political mistake. This is why George Osborne’s so called ‘political trap’ for Labour will end up backfiring on Tory MPs in marginal seats across the country.

Of course we need spending cuts and tax rises to get the deficit down, but with the flatlining economy sending borrowing up by 10 per cent so far this financial year it’s clearer than ever that you cannot get the deficit down without a plan for jobs and growth which works.

We also need a welfare system that works. And for Labour, that means any reform of the system must pass three tests.

First, it must pay more to be in work than live on benefits, both for the individual and the Exchequer.

Labour introduced a minimum wage alongside tax credits to help ensure work pays. But this government’s deep cuts to tax credits already mean that thousands of working parents are now better off if they quit their jobs, while cuts to childcare support mean thousands of mums and dads are struggling to afford to take up full-time work.

The implementation of the government’s flagship universal credit is already proving to be a shambles with Iain Duncan Smith’s own Cabinet colleagues warning this week that it is a “disaster waiting to happen”.

Meanwhile the government’s benefits cap could also end up costing more than it saves. Labour supports the principle of a benefits cap but this government’s crude ‘one size fits all’ cap – with the same level in London as the rest of the country – will simply lead to taxpayers funding the cost of rising homelessness as families living in high cost areas are turfed out of their homes.

Second we must get tough on the scourge of long-term unemployment by matching rights with responsibilities.

A One Nation approach to welfare reform means government has a responsibility to help people into work and support those who cannot, but those who can work must be required to take up jobs or lose benefits as a result – no ifs or buts.

Tackling long-term unemployment will be a top priority for the next Labour government because we know from the 1980s that it has a scarring effect on individuals and communities, damages our economy and society, and builds up long-term costs for the taxpayer.

Once again this government’s record is lamentable. It’s so called welfare to work programme is nothing of the sort. The Work Programme’s results have been worse than doing nothing with just two in 100 jobseekers helped into sustained employment. And the government’s wider economic failure, with a flatlining economy and rising long-term unemployment, means the welfare bill is set to be over £13 billion higher than George Osborne planned.

Labour has already proposed a compulsory Youth Jobs Guarantee, which would use funds raised from a tax on bank bonuses to fund a guaranteed job for every young person out of work for a year or more – which they will have to take.

Today we are urging the government to go even further, because we won’t get the costs of welfare down if adults who can work are languishing on the dole for years and years on end. So Ed Miliband, Liam Byrne and I are today calling for a compulsory Jobs Guarantee for the long-term unemployed.

This is the One Nation jobs contract Labour would introduce right now: the government will ensure there is a job for every adult who is long-term unemployed, and people out of work will be obliged to take up those jobs or face losing benefits.

Our Jobs Guarantee for adults will build on the model of the Future Jobs Fund with government working with the private and voluntary sectors to ensure there is a job paying the minimum wage for every long-term unemployed person.

While getting people back to work will save the taxpayer money in the long-term, the upfront costs of Labour’s jobs contract can be funded by reversing the government’s decision to stop tax relief on pension contributions for people earning over £150,000 being limited to 20 per cent.

When times are tough it cannot be right that we subsidise the pension contributions of the top 2 per cent of earners at more than double the rate of people on average incomes paying the basic rate of tax. £1 billion a year would fund a compulsory jobs guarantee initially for all those out of work for 24 months or more – which we would seek to reduce to 18 or 12 months over time.

Our third and final test is this: any welfare reforms must be fair to those who are in work or genuinely want to work.

Of course we must come down hard on the minority who try to cheat the system – whether that’s through benefit fraud, tax evasion, or simply by drawing jobseekers’ allowance while never seeking a job.

But the government is hitting millions of striving working families on middle and low incomes who will see their child benefit and tax credits cut. And it is also hitting the vast majority of people who are out of work but desperately want to find a job in an economy where there are 5 people chasing every vacancy.

David Cameron cannot be the one nation Prime Minister Britain needs when his government targets people in work and people who want to work, and labels them as scroungers. When a government becomes more interested in exploiting the challenges the country faces rather than solving them, it shows they are no longer fit to govern, and are just interested in scoring cheap points and trying to set so called political traps.

The fundamental truth is that the best way to get the benefits bill down is not to attack the striving mum in part-time work or the redundant nurse desperately trying to find a new job, but to get everybody back to work. That is what Labour’s jobs guarantees would do. Britain needs real welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works. Welfare reform that unites the country and takes the economy forward, not divisive, nasty and misleading smears from an out of touch and failing government.

Youth Jobs Taskforce Report: Bradford

As 2012 drew to a close Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce rolled into Bradford where we met Cllr Dave Green and his team to find out about their campaign to get local young people back into jobs.

Bradford has launched ‘Get Bradford Working’, to encourage employers to offer more apprenticeships, to support vulnerable people back into work, and to incorporate employers’ skill needs into school activities.

The numbers are impressive – it’s an £8 million programme that aims to create 390 new jobs, 500 new apprenticeships, 600 qualifications and 1500 school places linked to business.

Small companies can be put off by the risks of taking on an apprentice, and in Bradford, where 90% of employers are small and medium enterprises this could really hold young people back. But the Council is working around this by setting up an Apprenticeship Training Agency, which will hire the apprentice in return for a fee from the small company: lowering the risks and making apprenticeships a more attractive option to local employers.

And there’s more. The Council is working closely with Jobcentre Plus, the Skills Funding Agency and the National Careers Service to provide support for longer-term unemployed or vulnerable young people through their Routes into Work programme.

Then comes the Employment Opportunities Fund (EOF), which is set up in conjunction with a registered social landlord and Jobcentre Plus. This builds on Labour’s successful but now defunct Future Jobs Fund – a stark reminder of how badly this government has got things wring on youth unemployment.

Through the EOF young people will be offered a twelve-month job contract, alongside intensive support ranging from induction to relevant skills training. The council held its first employer day in December, and all the signs are that Bradford’s business community is keen to get involved.

Finally, Bradford is establishing an Industrial Centres of Excellence – specialised schools which to focus on key growth sectors.

The Youth Jobs Taskforce was privileged to see a lot of this in action –  at Provident Financial Group in the City Centre, we met ten students on work placements through the Industrial Centre, and at Forster’s Bistro and Deli, we dropped in at the College’s Young Chef’s Academy, which provides a fantastic employment experience and training for young people – and popular food too!

In the appalling absence of Government action to bring down long-term youth unemployment, local authorities are stepping up to the plate. Dave’s team, as well as the local colleges, are attacking the problem with infectious energy, and I’m proud that Labour Councils like Bradford are leading the charge against this country’s jobs crisis.

Youth Jobs Taskforce calls on Government to follow Liverpool’s lead

Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce rolled into Liverpool today to witness first-hand the City’s fight against youth unemployment. The Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne, visited Glendale Liverpool Ltd apprentices on site in St John’s Gardens and later met with Liverpool’s Deputy Mayor Paul Brant to discuss the city’s scheme.


Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne visit to the city comes just two days after the latest figures showed long-term youth unemployment rocketing across the North-West, up 150% in Liverpool in the last 12 months.


Liam Byrne said,


“The Tory Lib Dem government in Westminster aren’t lifting a finger to fight Britain’s youth jobs crisis – and that’s causing youth unemployment to soar. So Labour won’t stand aside and wait for 2015 to make a difference. Leading councils like Liverpool are fighting back today and it’s about time Ministers followed their lead.


“Under Mayor Joe Anderson and his team, Liverpool’s apprenticeship scheme is leading the country. I’ve brought Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce here today to see what we can learn from Liverpool because I want to make sure that the best ideas anywhere become Labour’s approach everywhere.”


Liverpool’s Deputy Mayor Paul Brant said,


“Labour in Liverpool is proud to play its part in Youth Jobs Taskforce, and has an action plan to fight youth unemployment and create jobs for young people. At a time when David Cameron and Nick Clegg are turning their backs on young people, we’re sending a message loud and clear: Labour won’t leave you to fight on your own.”

“When we took control of Liverpool Council, Labour promised to create 100 new apprentices in our first year. We have beat that total, creating 650 apprenticeships in our first year, and we’ll be raising that figure to 1,300 over the next four years.”


“And we have made a pledge to reduce to zero the number of young people not in employment, education or training.”


“We are also routinely insisting that the Council’s partners prioritise local young people when they’re recruiting, and we urge them to take on apprentices so young people can gain skills and training needed to work.”




  • Long-term Youth Unemployment (Over 12 months) has risen 149% in Liverpool in the last year. (November Labour Market Statistics).


  • Liverpool’s Innovative Approach to Youth Unemployment will see every 16 or 17 year old NEET guaranteed either a training place or an apprenticeship, a move that will benefit 800 young people. The council has already created nearly 700 apprenticeship starts since Labour took control in May 2010.


  • Labour’s Youth Jobs Taskforce is a new alliance uniting the leaders of the top ten youth unemployment hotspots including Liverpool, with leaders and experts from business, enterprise, civil society, trade unions and academia.


The Taskforce


Liam Byrne MP – Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.


Stephen Timms MP – Labour’s Shadow Employment Minister.


Alan Buckle – Global Deputy Chairman of KPMG with primary responsibilty for driving execution of KPMG’s global strategy.


Jamie Mitchell – Jamie is CEO of Daylesford Organic, the UK’s leading premium farm food retailer and café operator. Prior to Daylesford, Jamie was UK Managing Director of Innocent Drinks, where he grew the business from £25m to £100m in three years.


Kay Carberry – Assistant General Secretary, TUC. Kay was the first head of the TUC’s Equal Rights Department and is responsible for the TUC’s internal management and oversees work on pensions and equality.


Liz Snape – Assistant General Secretary, Unison.


Dr Peter Kyle – Deputy CEO, Acevo. Peter joined ACEVO in 2007, and helped coordinate the Youth Employment Commission chaired by David Miliband MP.


Cllr David Sparks OBE – Local Government Association. David is chair of the LGA’s Labour Group and Leader of Dudley Council. He previously chaired the Association’s Regeneration and Transport Board.


Prof Paul Gregg – University of Bath. Paul is a Professor of Economic and Social Policy, and Director of the Centre for Analysis and Social Policy at Bath and a former member of the CBI steering group on Getting Britain Working, and the Council of Economic Advisors at HM Treasury 1997-2006, where he worked on unemployment, welfare reform and child poverty.


Susan Nash – Chair of Young Labour.


Representing the nations:

Leighton Andrews AM – Welsh Assembly Member and Minister for Education Skills in the Welsh Government

Vernon Coaker MP – Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary

Kezia Dugdale MSP – Scottish Labour’s Shadow Youth Unemployment Minister


The taskforce will be joined by Labour leaders from the following local authorities:


  • Birmingham – Cllr Sir Albert Bore
  • Sheffield – Cllr Julie Dore
  • Leeds – Cllr Keith Wakefield
  • Glasgow – Cllr Gordon Mattheson
  • Liverpool – Mayor Joe Anderson
  • Manchester – Cllr Sir Richard Leese
  • Bradford – Cllr David Green
  • Cardiff – Cllr Heather Joyce
  • Wakefield – Cllr Peter Box, CBE
  • Sandwell – Cllr Darren Cooper
  • Newham – Mayor Sir Robin Wales
action centre

Liam Byrne MP’s twitter

Follow @LiamByrneMP on twitter.