There are ongoing debates about how policies impact on different generations. The main message is that position of younger generations is worsening. An Intergenerational Fairness Index shows a 10% deterioration in the prospects of younger generations relative to older generations between 2010 and 2015 – although the rate of deterioration is slowing. The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee is sufficiently concerned about the plight of the younger generation relative to those now approaching retirement to have launched an Intergenerational fairness inquiry to examine questions concerning the collective impact of trends in welfare, public expenditure and the wider economy.
Despite recent falls, unemployment remains higher for younger than for older people. And younger people saw greater than average reductions in real wages following the recession. These labour market trends set the context in which Talent Match (TM) partnerships operate.
A recent review as part of the TM evaluation highlights current developments and directions in youth employment policy in England. These have implications for the work of TM partnerships going forward.
From April 2017 young people seeking to claim Universal Credit and those finishing school must either ‘earn or learn’. Within the first three weeks of claiming out-of-work benefits claimants will take up an ‘Intensive Activity Programme’ involving training in interview techniques, practising job applications and job search.
One means of setting young people on a trajectory to sustainable employment is via the expansion of apprenticeships. For young people with little or no work experience and lower qualifications, traineeships are seen as a route to employment or apprenticeships through provision of work preparation and work experience. While apprenticeships and traineeships may be positive routes for some young people they remain unaffordable for others.
Young people aged under 25 are excluded from the new National Living Wage to be introduced from April 2016. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on young people as employers adjust to the new legislation, but it will mean that young people struggling to live independently will not benefit automatically from this ‘raising of the wage floor’. Some young people aged 18-21 years will also be disadvantaged by withdrawal of automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit. To some commentators these policy changes may be viewed as indicative of intergenerational inequity.
The challenge for TM partnerships is to navigate a course through these national policy changes, alongside local developments, to support young people furthest from the labour market.
Professor Anne Green, Institute for Employment Studies, University of Warwick