Solving the problem goes to the heart of who we British are and who we want to be.
The government is rightly terrified of the economic outlook for the coming year; undoing the retirement plan could easily lead to unemployment above five million, with young people aged 16 to 24 facing the darkest moment of all. Thus, Chancellor Rishi Sunak's £ 2bn Kickstart program announced in his extraordinary multi-million dollar package last week, with the goal, as he said, of preventing a generation's job prospects from being hopelessly marked by Covid-19 .
The government will pay youth ages 16-24 who apply for universal credit the appropriate minimum wage (and contributions to national insurance) if they take a six-month job placement. Cousin cousin of New Labor’s Future Jobs Fund, grossly abolished by the coalition government in 2011, aims to create up to 350,000 job placements. Alongside this there are £ 2,000 bonuses for each apprentice hired. Together, the price is £ 3.7 billion, with more fiancees if necessary. Cash begins to match rhetoric.
But Sunak needs to speak to Williamson, and Thérèse Coffey in the Department of Work and Pensions and Alok Sharma in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. As it stands, there is no chance that British companies will offer 350,000 six-month job placements. This scale of mobilization is not what British companies do or have done, especially in the worst recession in 300 years.
Even the Labor’s Future Jobs Fund, with a more generous salary subsidy, landed just over 100,000 jobs in 2010/11. The government is ready to spend transformative money. It must point to transformational results.
Two Rooseveltian movements are required. The first is to transform business priorities. The British property system has long prioritized the immediate financial interests of shareholders while underestimating innovation, education and training. For example, last year 28 of Britain's top 100 companies paid more dividends and share buybacks than their total net income; They are unlikely to offer jobs to our youth. However, it is now estimated that half a million companies, including the top 100, have received government job retention funds, grants and emergency loans. The quid pro quo must be an unequivocal reciprocal commitment to offer jobs and training in the Kickstarter program. It would be a game changer.
The second is the creation of an umbrella organization as a matter of national urgency to organize those locations, start their own programs (in the environment, in general civic service), and then ensure that every young person in the country – even graduates From schools and universities that do not have universal credit, they receive an offer.
This is the only way to create at least 350,000 jobs in the next 12 months (and we really need to double the number). Echoing the Roosevelt Civilian Conservation Corps, this National Youth Corps should be largely youth-led. And as the economic recovery takes hold, it could transmute into the national organization necessary to spearhead the commitment and skill of the lagging 50% of Williamson.
More than 60 MPs signed a letter asking the prime minister to establish such a National Youth Corps the day before Sunak made his statement. They captured the moment and the mood. Volunteering is not going to solve a 132-year-old problem, or change British business attitudes. The government has the opportunity to act once every 100 years. Last week, Sunak took the first step. Success will require much more radicalism.
• Will Hutton is an observant columnist