Barely a week now goes by without a new report about youth unemployment or a new set of solutions. Now it’s the turn of revenant Lord Young, a failed property developer put in charge of the Manpower Services Commission to pioneer contracted out Youth Training Schemes in the 1980s and more recently sacked as an advisor by David Cameron for claiming that, despite the recession, most people had ‘never had it so good’.
Acting on the instruction of Cameron, Young has just published proposals to encourage up to 7,000 young people to start their own businesses, with the help of a start-up loan of up to £2,500 – an inadequate sum and a drop in the ocean of over one million unemployed 16-24 year olds. Elaborating his plans on Radio 4’s Today Programme and conceding that banks wouldn’t lend money to young people for ‘high tech’ ventures, Young suggested ‘painting’ or ‘doing sandwiches’ as examples of ‘no tech’ opportunities for budding entrepreneurs www.news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9724000/9724320.stm
Young told listeners that growth in the number of small businesses had been ‘the engine of growth’ for the UK economy in the decades since the 198Os – even if various surveys by banks and other lenders have reported success rates of just over 50% and those were during more prosperous years. The loans scheme will be overseen by Dragons’ Den panellist, James Caan, but administered locally, doubtless on contract to some private agency that will take a hefty percentage of the £80 million available.
Start-up loans to encourage youth business were mentioned by George Osborne in his 2012 budget speech, but Osborne also hinted that the ‘reform of the school system’ would make sure that in future young people were better prepared for the world of work. One shudders to think what he had in mind; but in the meantime and reminiscent of the boy scout ‘bob a job’ culture of the 1960s – something which any self- respecting Tory politician would relish – watch out for pots of paint and ladders!
This sort of gimmick, revamping failed policies from the past to make no real difference in the present, is typical of this government