• Suzanne McMinn
  • 3 May 2012

Employ a hoodie

In recent weeks, Chris Grayling, the Government’s Employment Minister, has been promoting the concept of youths in employment. The idea behind this shift in focus is to promote local youths, instead of companies relying on employment from other EU nationals.  It’s a great idea, investing in our own people, supporting our own development for the good of our own industries – but how will it all work?

With youth unemployment still above the one million mark you have to question Grayling’s intentions.  Is it about getting young people into employment, giving them some self-worth, contributing towards an organisation, being part of a team and learning a trade?  Or is it all about making savings on the amount of job seekers allowance that is being claimed by young people?

March saw the 17th month in a row where the number of jobseeker claimants rose, and the figure is now up to 1.61 million. Grayling has a strategy of promoting investment in new jobs in the private sector and supporting young people in unemployment to take up the jobs that become available. But when times are tough and companies are not looking to take on further staff, where will he turn then?

Apprenticeships in most industries seem to be a thing of the past, with employers going for the more talented readily skilled people who can hit the ground running with the minimum of investment in developing them further.

In 2006 David Cameron gave his ‘hug a hoodie’ speech, where he appealed to the UK to work with teenagers to show more understanding to the issues that they face in society today and to ultimately move them into employment. This was six years ago and in my mind very little has changed, so much so that Grayling is still jumping on the ‘hoodie’ bandwagon and advocating that we should not only be hugging them but hiring them. His rather patronising speech to the Policy Exchange in London earlier this month stated that “surly young men can turn into excited and motivated employees”.

This at a time when the Coalition Government also confirmed that increases to the national minimum wage would not be increased for those aged under 21 – a great incentive to get those hoodies into work!  I appreciate that there has to be a balance between what companies can afford to pay in terms of salaries but there does need to be some incentive to get young people into work rather than claiming benefits and allowances.