Employment

Gordon Brown launches young person jobs guarantee petition

The former Prime Minister, backed by Metro Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham, says it’s the government’s “moral duty” to future proof job prospects with a fully funded scheme

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has insisted that it is the “moral duty” for the government to protect young people’s job prospects during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former Prime Minister’s Alliance For Full Employment (AFFE) has launched a petition urging ministers to create a fully funded jobs guarantee scheme that will cover all young people in need of work.

Brown said: “One million young people out of work is grim news. And a devastating blow to the confidence and self-worth of every single one of those young people. So there are a million reasons to sign this petition.

“Unless the government acts fast and gets ahead of the youth unemployment crisis and creates a desperately needed Prospects Protection Plan for young people, I fear we will need to create 1.5million work or training places.”

So far, more than 800 people have signed the petition, which also has the backing of Big Issue editor Paul McNamee, Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford and TUC chief Frances O’Grady.

We urgently need to get ahead of the surging unemployment curve. Otherwise, long Covid will also mean 1980s levels of long-term youth unemployment

Metro Mayors from the north of England helped Brown lodge the petition, including support from Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram, Andy Burnham from Manchester as well as Sheffield’s Dan Jarvis and Jamie Driscoll representing North of Tyne Combined Authority.

The Alliance wants the government to upscale existing infrastructure to bring job support and training for work to the one million 16-24 years olds who are now in need of help.

They are demanding that the government upgrade its new Kickstart programme to help people who lose work this month get support before May next year – currently the scheme only covers youngsters who have been out of work or education for six months.

AFFE are also calling for training to be geared to new jobs linked to the Covid-19 pandemic recovery, including in the care sector, IT and logistics, as well as support to help young people with job searches. A six-month wage subsidy of £100 a week for employers who take on young workers full-time is also in their demands.

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Brown added: “We all know the health pandemic is hurting young people. Our petition is a way for young people to allow their concerns for their futures to be heard in Parliament. By signing and by sharing it, the people of Britain can make the government listen to them.

“We urgently need to get ahead of the surging unemployment curve. Otherwise, long Covid will also mean 1980s levels of long-term youth unemployment. The time to act to stop that is now.“

The petition needs to reach 100,000 signatures to trigger a parliamentary debate on providing government support. The AFFE petition can be signed on the parliamentary petitions site.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Rotheram is urging young people to back the AFFE petition to avoid another “wasted generation”.

He said: “No-one in Liverpool City Region who remembers the youth unemployment of the 1980s wants to sit back and watch another generation wasted.

“We in the regions are shouting for more government help. Getting the government to listen is not easy. But 100,000 signatures calling for a Jobs Guarantee for all young people cannot be ignored.”

Last month, Gordon Brown wrote exclusively for The Big Issue, outlining how AFFE was working to prevent a youth unemployment crisis.

He also gave The Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance his full support and insisted that Britain has the “economic know-how to stop the rapid spread of unemployment”.

Saturday’s announcement that England will go into a full national lockdown from Thursday saw the government extend the furlough scheme by a month to protect jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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