Jobs Growth Wales - Is this the Answer to Youth Unemployment?

12th April 2012

This April the Welsh Assembly are rolling out a new £75 million scheme aimed at young unemployed people, called “Jobs Growth Wales”.

This new scheme looks at first like a reasonably positive step in addressing youth unemployment when compared to the UK government's workfare programme of benefit sanctions, handouts to huge businesses and forced unpaid labour.

Under the Jobs Growth Wales scheme, 4,000 unemployed people aged 16-24 will be given six-month placements in companies, paid “at or above” the minimum wage by the Welsh Assembly.

Many placements are targeted at “micro-businesses” of 2-9 staff and in green jobs, but also some larger companies. The companies will have to prove that the placement is one that wouldn't otherwise exist without the funding. Support is given to increase the likeliness of the placement becoming permanent after six months.

If done properly, this scheme could therefore grow parts of the Welsh economy without taking jobs away from people already in employment. Specifically creating opportunities for young disabled people is also something to welcome.

However, “at or above” the minimum wage of £3.68 for someone aged 16-17 or £2.60 for an apprentice is not acceptable. We must fight for an immediate increase to £8 an hour and the scrapping of the youth rate which is currently frozen below inflation.

Jobs Growth Wales is a step forward from workfare in that the jobs are minimum wage, but it's likely the scheme will be used in similar ways. In fact, the Assembly is using the same private sector providers that have taken DWP contracts – the providers in Cardiff, Newport and Port Talbot are A4e!

Unemployment in Wales stands at 134,000, youth unemployment at 41,000, and a further 7,000 job losses are predicted over the Summer. The 4,000 placements a year created by this scheme will only be a band-aid solution, and a losing battle.

We must not forget, either, that many of these job cuts are caused directly by Assembly-backed budget cuts. This £75 million scheme for minimum-wage, fixed term private sector youth jobs is being paid for with budget cuts to existing socially-useful permanent jobs.

The Welsh Assembly should immediately reject the Tories' budget and demand the funding needed to immediately halt and reverse public sector job losses and invest in public services, just like local councils should defy Cardiff Bay's cuts and set needs budgets in their local areas.

But ultimately unemployment is caused by the profit-mad capitalist system. Young people can't get jobs and at the same time four million workers work more than 48-hours a week! The work should be shared out. We demand the immediate change to a maximum 35-hour week with no loss of pay and massive investment in public services, industry and green jobs.

The super-rich evade and avoid at least £120 billion in tax every year. With even half that money, you could as an emergency measure employ every single unemployed person in the UK for 35 hours a week at £10 an hour, in socially useful jobs.

We need a society run for need, not profit. Only a democratic, socialist plan of production would eliminate unemployment and poverty forever.
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