Work experience helps young people off benefits, figures show

Young job seekers who took part in the government’s voluntary work experience scheme were found to be 16 per cent more likely to stop claiming benefits and get a job, according to preliminary results.

Researchers from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) looked at the outcomes for 3,490 young people who started a work placement between January 2011, when the scheme launched, and May 2011.

From this data researchers found that those taking part were 16 per cent were more likely to be off unemployment benefits 21 weeks after starting the scheme than people in a comparable group who did not take part.

The preliminary research excluded people aged 16 to 18 years old because they had not built up enough benefits history to enable researchers to select a comparable control group. However, when testing the figures, inclusion of this younger age group did not affect the results, researchers said.

The findings were verified by independent research body the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

Placements of up to eight weeks work experience are available for 16 to 24-year olds on Job Seekers Allowance. People are expected to attend between 25 to 30 hours a week. Initially people who dropped out of the scheme faced losing their benefits as a deterrent; however, only 220 individuals studied received such sanctions up to and including October 2011.

Following a public outcry that the sanctions amounted to ‘slave labour’, the DWP agreed to remove all sanctions in relation to participation with the exception of cases involving ‘gross misconduct’.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “These early figures show our voluntary work experience scheme is making a big difference to the prospects of our young people, helping them get off benefits and into work.

“Work experience gives young people vital skills they will need to get a job and a chance to shine in front of a potential employer. Those who criticised the scheme have got it badly wrong.”

Jobcentre Plus works with employers to deliver placements and will help to broker an extra 250,000 placements over the next three years as part of the £1 billion Youth Contract.

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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