Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 27 September 2012


There are over 1 million young people (aged 16-24) in this country not in education employment or training. They are known by the unattractive acronym of NEETS. Their numbers have been climbing for years. We oldies know that it is difficult to build a successful life without you (or your partner) having a decent job. So this large number of drifting youngsters with no stake in our society is a cause for concern both now and for the future. What can we do about it?

The answer is carrot and stick.

Carrot first. The government (to be fair building on good work by the previous government) is massively expanding the number of apprenticeships for young people. All over the country there are dedicated teams of civil servants whose job it is to promote apprenticeships among young people and employers alike. The numbers are climbing rapidly and there are now many hundreds of apprenticeships in Plymouth alone.

Usually the apprentice will work four days a week for the employer and have one day a week at college learning relevant vocational skills. They will come out at the end of the programme with useful qualifications as well as their priceless on-the-job experience. The employer must pay the minimum wage, which for this age group is £2.60 per hour - much better than clicking your heels on welfare.
For 16-18 year olds the government will pay all of the costs of the training, for 19-24 year olds half of the costs. There is also a small grant to help the employer engage with the scheme.

This is a practical government programme which we hear little about but which is already reaping good rewards.

The stick is less pleasant. Most commentators accept that it has until now been far too easy for young people to sit in on the benefit system with no real incentive to get out and get moving. Recent reforms are making this much harder.

If you run a business and need help and would like to invest in someone who could become an invaluable employee, with the tax-payer picking up much of the training bill, please consider taking on an apprentice. Much guidance is available.

If you are a young person who has not yet found the right way forward, please have a look at the opportunities that becoming an apprentice will open up for you. 

Have a look at – it might just change your life forever.

posted by Gary @ 08:47