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Work experience is the key to getting young people off benefits, reports DWP

Young people taking part in a experience placement are more likely to get off benefits and into work, according to DWP research.

The first 3,490 young people who took part in the Government placements were 16% more likely to be off benefits 21 weeks after starting than those in a similar group who did not take part.

The findings are revealed in an early impact analysis of voluntary work experience placements published by the Department for Work and Pensions today.

Employment minister Chris Grayling (pictured) 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."

Researchers looked at what happened to young people who started a work experience placement between January and May 2011. The results, which have been reviewed by independent experts, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, were compared to a group of similar individuals who did not start a placement.

Work experience placements lasting up to eight-weeks are available to 16 to 24-year-olds on Jobseekers Allowance. The programme aims to give young jobseekers experience in the workplace, providing them with the vital practical skills and experience that will make a real difference to their prospects of finding a job. Hundreds of companies are providing placements across Great Britain.

Between January and November 2011, 34,200 people on Jobseeker's Allowance undertook a work experience placement. Another 250,000 places were announced over the next three years as part of the Youth Contract. This will ensure a place is available to every eligible 18 to 24 year old that wants one.

The news comes as Grayling encouraged employers to "hire a hoodie", speaking yesterday at Policy Exchange.

The CBI welcomed the Minister's focus on encouraging businesses to take on more young unemployed people, at a time when there are more than a million under-24s out of work.

Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills, said: "Today's official labour market figures show that jobs are being created across the private sector. Business will always hire the best person for the job, but the stark reality is that too few young unemployed people are positioned to get them.

"Initiatives like the Youth Contract and freezing the minimum wage for young people will help encourage employers to give young, relatively inexperienced people a chance.

"But businesses need longer-term solutions. We need to see more companies and schools working together to arm our young people with the skills they need to shine in the jobs market. The onus is on the Government to turn our education system around so it better prepares young people for work."