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CIPD launches campaign for the young and workless

New research reveals that almost three in ten employers did not recruit a single young person in 201

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has designed a new campaign, entitled Learning to Work, in order to improve young people's job prospects.

Employers such as Marks and Spencer, Deloitte, Nestlé, O2 and NHS Employers have expressed their support for the programme. 

According to CIPD research, nearly three in ten employers did not recruit a single young person in 2011 due to "structural problems". The professional association warns that focusing on the short-term spike in youth unemployment risks obscuring the more structural problems of youth unemployment.

Stephanie Bird, director of public policy at CIPD, said:  

Our Learning to Work campaign will work with employers and policymakers to tackle this structural youth unemployment.  We need a step-change in the relationship and level of engagement between employers and young people. But we also need to move beyond constant complaining about the shortcomings of ‘the youth of today’, to real, practical, sleeves-rolled-up engagement by employers to boost the employability and job prospects of young people.  This campaign is intended to do just that.

Katerina Rüdiger, skills policy adviser at CIPD, said:

The real scandal of youth unemployment isn’t the high headline rates caused by the current weak economy.  It is the gradual shift that has seen more and more young people struggling to find work in good times and bad.

Some of the challenges are quite simple. We know there is a gap between negative perceptions of today’s school and college leavers and the reality of the talents and capabilities they have to offer.  

Through the Steps Ahead mentoring programme in the West Midlands, Rüdiger said that CIPD was helping to improve young people's chances at job interviews with help from those with recruitment and management experience.

But she stressed that there is "more to be done in helping employers recognise the vested interest they have in boosting the job-ready skills of young people, and in boosting the supply of ‘young-people-ready jobs’." She warned that:

Failure to rise to these challenges risks doing lasting damage to the global competitiveness of UK firms and the ability of the UK to attract investment and global firms to these shores.

The Learning to Work campaign will work by building closer links with schools and colleges; engaging with young people by giving them an early, quality experience of working life; increasing the provision of a variety of access and progression routes into organisations; providing more opportunities for work-based learning and vocational education and training; and helping young jobseekers to navigate the labour market.

The campaign is supported by an advisory board that pulls together public- and private-sector employers as well as leading organisations in the field, including City and Guilds, the Prince’s Trust, the Education and Employers Taskforce, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and the IPPR.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.