The Observer reported that the support and advice for the young unemployed is not what was originally supposed. It seems that regular mentoring essentially comes down to a weekly text.
The £1bn scheme that has been promoted by Nick Clegg, as a concerted effort to solve the worklessness crisis for18- to 24-year-olds by offering them more time with advisers. But documents instructing job centres on their additional responsibilities reveal that the weekly contact promised under the scheme could merely consist of weekly text messages or emails.
The Observer reports, “according to the Department for Work and Pensions website, the youth contract is designed to ensure that “extra support will be made available through Jobcentre Plus in the form of weekly, rather than fortnightly, signing-on meetings”. Yet leaked advice from the DWP, contained in a booklet entitled Awareness Pack for Operations, says that the “flexible” support options to be offered will mean “weekly contact from day one (through face-to-face interviews, SMS texts, emails, phone calls, group sessions)”.
Of course the elephant in the room in the context of Stoke on Trent is the lack of jobs and when 73 applicants chasing every job then it does not matter how much mentoring/ support is given. With around 8,000 unemployed and probably the same amount of underemployed in the local economy the Clegg proposals seem vacuous.
The private companies that are running work programmes are placed in the difficult position of trying to find work for the unemployed that simply do not exist. As one director of one of these companies admitted “We can’t get employment for people if the jobs are not there”. The same hard logic applies to the job centres.
The government does not seem to realise that whilst it cannot create jobs (it can certainly create joblessness), it can create the conditions for job creation. Instead, it seems to be saying one thing whilst doing the very opposite.