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Youth unemployment must be a priority in Pre-Budget Report, says Work Foundation

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The chancellor must take more action to tackle youth unemployment in the Pre-Budget Report, according to The Work Foundation.

The industry body has called on Alistair Darling to take stronger action against youth unemployment in The Road to Recovery: Getting Britain back to Work, a detailed account of what the Pre-Budget Report should address.

With 18-24 year-olds being the hardest hit by this recession, the fight against youth unemployment needs to be a top priority in Darling's Pre-Budget Report, according to The Work Foundation.

It is calling for a one-off higher-education expansion in 2010 so all qualified applicants are guaranteed a place. It is also urging the Government to adapt the job guarantee scheme to help young people increase their job prospects at the end of the programme.

Other recommendations include more intensive job search support for those most likely to find jobs, a strong skills development element in the job guarantee programme and continued job search support during the job guarantee period as well as a link to a real job at the end of the job guarantee programme.

In addition, the report urges the introduction of a short-time working scheme similar to the arrangements in Germany that have helped to keep unemployment low, along with an immediate increase in the Jobseeker's Allowance of £10 per week.

David Coats, report author and associate director (Policy) at The Work Foundation, said: "It is vital that the Government reinforces its commitment to helping young people in these tough times. Youth unemployment is at a record high and there is no excuse for inaction.

"Revising the Job Guarantee will improve the effectiveness of the programme, focus resources on the young people most in need of support and encourage employers to become active partners in the initiative. In addition, the temporary expansion of higher education will reduce the inflow of new entrants into a labour market that is still weak.

"Both the development of the Job Guarantee and the expansion of higher education are essential practical measures that will keep the most vulnerable young people in touch with the world of work and ensure that the UK has the highly qualified workforce we need to respond to the opportunities of economic recovery."