When I posted recently on youth unemployment hitting one million, I expressed some alarm over Dominic Raab’s suggested solutions: cut the minimum wage for young people and reduce employment rights. So it seems only fair to report that the Coalition now appears to be following a very different route with its investment in schemes to boost employment opportunities for young people. Rather than making the young more employable by cutting their minimum wage entitlement, the Government proposes to offer a subsidy to companies which take on young people. Of course the money has to come from somewhere – but Clegg also noted that savings should ‘come from those with the broadest shoulders’.
There are many potential objections, both pragmatic and ideological, to the proposals. One element, the workplace scheme, could be seen as exploitative. It could be argued that the subsidies will go to those who would have taken on the same people without them, or that, although the long term young unemployed will benefit, others, including older workers, may now find it more difficult to find jobs. But, in response to the latter argument, there is perhaps a case to be made for privileging the needs of the long term young unemployed, as their extended exclusion from the job market will have major repercussions for years to come.