Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has today announced the start of a programme which he first outlined in a speech in February, enabling 16 and 17-year-olds to get help from their local Jobcentre. The programme, which forms part of the recommendations arising from the Heywood Review, will consist of courses that have specially trained coaches to support 16 and 17 year olds into work and training.

The scheme will initially be piloted in Lewisham, Norfolk, Hertfordshire and Sheffield and if the project is successful, it will then be expanded across the country. The programme will support these young people to navigate the options available to them, signposting them to local provision including training, CV writing, interview skills and job matching.

These pilots build on the offer already available to young people through the 16-17 year old Youth Contract, which specifically targets young people who are not participating in education, employment or training (NEET) and who are considered to be disengaged or hardest to reach. The pilots are intended to run for up to 18 months and will be extended in the autumn to include a further 25 local authorities.

Speaking in response to the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister on Jobcentre Plus opening its doors to 16 and 17 year olds, ERSA chief executive, Kirsty McHugh, said:

“Increasing high quality employment support to 16 and 17 year olds is vital to stop them moving into long term unemployment. However, this isn’t the way to do it.

“Rather than exposing young people to Jobcentre Plus, we believe they should be supported with specialist employment and skills in an environment dedicated to young people away from the benefits regime.”