It is hard for too many young people to get their first real job. Fewer young people get work experience in their teens. Only half the number of young people have part-time jobs, while at school, than 20 years ago. This is a big change. When I was at school I had a variety of weekend and school holiday jobs - behind a sweet shop counter, as a hotel chambermaid, cooking in a department store staff canteen, at a dry cleaners and bakery before I was 18.
Yet today, just when they want to get some real experience of work, many find themselves unable to even get a foot in the door.
However many new jobs are created locally, young people are often the forgotten piece of the jigsaw. So many finish school or college and get trapped because employers are looking for people with experience in the workplace – experience they don’t have.
I’m determined to change this. This month sees the next stage of my new work experience initiative, Our Community, which aims to break that cycle by encouraging employers to offer work experience for 18-24 year olds. The idea was brought to me by Communitas, the training arm of Community Union and is supported by Jobcentre Plus; and City of Liverpool College.
Launched in December, supported by local businesses, voluntary and community groups, we now have a brochure of work experience opportunities with local firms.
I’m delighted that established firms like Robin Hood Airport, Redline Aviation, Omega and Polypipe have signed up, and firms like The Ridgeway Partnership, a growing firm in one of the biggest growth areas, energy conservation.
I believe this project can change the lives of some of these young people and lead to apprenticeships and permanent jobs.
This initiative offers up to eight weeks in a work place. It is entirely voluntary. The young person has their travel to and from work paid and before they go into the workplace will receive two weeks pre-employment training. No one will be sanctioned by Jobcentre Plus for not taking part; and no one will be exploited by employers.
It is a chance for young people to get to know local firms from the inside; and if their short time with them is a success, they would be well placed to apply for jobs or apprenticeships that arise in the future.
I want young people from villages across Don Valley to feel like they have a chance to get experience and set themselves up for a decent future with a job and training.
If you could offer work experience to a young person, or want to find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Caroline Flint MP