Jobseekers will be required to practise applications and interview techniques and undertake an extensive three-week job search. This is expected to take 71 hours over the first three weeks of a benefits claim. Jobseekers will be supported by a dedicated job coach.
The new requirements will be in place by April 2017 as part of a wider policy, first announced by Cameron before the general election, that under-21s will no longer receive housing support and unemployed 18- to 21-year-olds not undertaking a job, apprenticeship, traineeship or unpaid work experience will lose their benefits.
Paymaster general Matt Hancock, who has been appointed to chair the earn or learn taskforce, stated that the government is committed to ending long-term youth unemployment. “We are determined to fulfil our commitments to end the welfare culture that is embedded in some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities,” he said.
“By working across government to make sure that every young person is in work or training – by opening up three million more apprenticeships, expanding traineeships, and making sure that a life on benefits is simply not an option – we want to end rolling welfare dependency for good, so welfare dependency is no longer passed down the generations.”
The plans have been criticised by several parties, including Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, children’s charity Barnardo’s, and the University and College Union (UCU).
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt claimed the plans “fundamentally fail to deal with the reasons that so many [young people] are unable to find work or are not in education or training".
“This government is already hitting young people through cuts to further education colleges' budgets, increased university fees, and the abolition of grants,” she said. “This latest idea looks like little more than another attack on the very people we should be striving to help.”
The proposal follows the government’s plans to introduce a national living wage and create three million more apprenticeship placements by 2020.