Government Trial Unpaid Work Experience for Young People

Chris Grayling

The Government has announced that it plans to launch a new scheme that will mean that young people will need to have completed at least three months of work experience before they will be eligible to claim unemployment benefits.

It is hoped that the new scheme will reduce the dependency on benefits currently experienced. Ministers also claim that it will help young people to develop skills that could ultimately land them a job as well as benefit the community.

A pilot scheme will be trialled in London and is aimed at those aged between sixteen and twenty-four, who since leaving full time education, have worked for less than six months. This will be a joint initiative between the Mayor's office and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The placements will not only equip young people with work experience but also help them develop their CV writing skills and general employability by providing guidance on job searches and interviews.

It will be interesting to see how this pilot fares compared to the DWP's earlier attempts at making unpaid work experience a necessity before being able to claim benefits. Many of the employers that took part in the 'Mandatory Work Activity' scheme, such as bookshop Waterstones and high street retailer TK Maxx, left the scheme following the controversy that quickly surrounded it. Supporters of the scheme, however, maintained that it was a good way of helping people back into work by improving their CV and also reducing the dependency on benefits.

Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, has commented on the importance of young people making a contribution to society through work experience before being able to claim Jobseekers Allowance. The allowance is currently at fifty six pounds and sixty five pence for under twenty five year olds. The scheme could prove a good way for younger people to develop themselves and to land a full time job. Recent figures have shown youth unemployment to be at a high. The recession has increased the numbers currently on benefits. Grayling also commented on the fact that "Many other countries don't allow young people to claim any benefits at all until they have made contributions through a job." He continued by explaining the benefits of trailing the scheme saying "this trial will give a clear idea of the impact of an approach that says, effectively, you can't get something back until you have put something in."

The trail will start this autumn with the first 6,000 claimants undertaking thirty hours of unpaid work experience per week over a 13-week period. Placements will be carried out in a wide range of sectors including charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations.