A year on from their first press conference in the Rose Garden at No 10, David Cameron and Nick Clegg appeared together at an event on youth unemployment in Stratford today.
They announced the launch of a £60m employment programme and pledged to fund 250,000 more apprenticeships over the next four years, as well as 100,000 work placements over the next two years.
But is it too little, too late? As the graph below shows, youth unemployment among 16-to-24-year-olds, which was falling when Labour left office, has risen from 919,000 to 963,000 under the coalition, the highest level since records began.
In opposition, the Conservatives rightly drew attention to Labour’s failure to reduce the number of “Neets”, young people not in education, employment or training. But in government, they have failed to improve on this performance. On the contrary, they have made a bad situation worse.
Since it came to power, the coalition has scrapped the Future Jobs Fund (described by Frank Field, the government’s poverty adviser, as “one of the most precious things the last government was involved in”), abolished the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and announced that it will offer 10,000 fewer university places next year. All of these measures are likely to make the jobs crisis worse.