Measures set out in the Autumn Statement designed to improve young people’s chances in the labour market may not have the effect they are supposed to.
Removing the cap on university numbers may increase places but it’s equally likely to benefit more prestigious institutions who can now recruit students who would have had to gone to one of those further down the pecking order. It’s all very well increasing the number of potential graduates, but Osborne’s measures will do little to create an economy where there are more graduate jobs! Data released the previous week shows nearly half of recent graduates in non-graduate employment and a third in low-skilled jobs (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5a6a66a0-5103-11e3-b499-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2mu9Prap5).
Creating another 20 000 Higher ( level 4 and 5) apprenticeships may also sound welcoming – there are currently only about 13 000 on Higher level schemes (out of 850 000 apprentices in total). However the government still intends to continue with a loan system, where Higher level apprentices can contribute towards their training and repay the debt later. Sounds familiar doesn’t it.
Exempting employers from National Insurance payments for employees under 21, is a measure that Labour has argued for and would also seem to be a positive move. Yet at the same time, many of those recruited in this age group are only just over the NI threshold anyway, so the extent of the savings will be unclear. Finally, the current generation of young people will, if they do eventually find employment, now be working until they are 70. But at current rates of pay, many will still not earn enough, for long enough, to pay off their student loan.