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Young People Have No Choice But to Work, Labour Declares

By Sean Seddon, BBC News

In an upcoming speech, Liz Kendall, the shadow work secretary of the Labour party, is set to emphasize that young individuals will not have the “option of a life on benefits” within the party’s framework. She is expected to highlight the party’s commitment to investing in career development and skills training while stressing the importance of young people taking on these opportunities as a responsibility.

The Labour party has expressed concerns about the escalating number of individuals aged between 16-24 who are currently not engaged in employment, education, or training. Recent data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that during the period between October to December 2023, there were 851,000 young people in this category, marking a surge of 20,000 from the previous year and representing 12% of all 16-24-year-olds.

Ms. Kendall will assert that the Conservative party has faltered in economic matters, attributing this failure to their shortcomings in addressing employment issues. She will affirm the Labour party’s dedication to investing in the youth, offering them opportunities to construct a brighter future filled with possibilities and choices. However, she will underscore that in exchange for these prospects, young individuals must be prepared to engage in the available work or training opportunities, stating unequivocally that a life dependent on benefits will not be an option under the reformed Labour party.

While the party has not disclosed specific enforcement measures to support this stance, it has previously outlined plans to introduce 1,000 new careers advisers, provide mental health support in schools, and establish Young Future hubs across various regions to cater to the needs of vulnerable young people. Additionally, Labour intends to revamp access to work for disabled youth if they secure victory in the upcoming election.

In contrast, the Conservative Party has criticized Labour’s historical track record on youth employment, pointing out that under previous Labour administrations, youth unemployment nearly doubled, leading to a surge in individuals relying on out-of-work benefits. They have also denounced Labour’s proposal to reform the apprenticeship levy, arguing that it could diminish the number of individuals receiving on-the-job training.

The Conservative Party spokesperson reiterated, “Under the last Labour government, youth unemployment almost doubled, and the number of people seeking out-of-work benefits soared – their abysmal record speaks for itself.”