20.02.09

Urgent Action Needed to Support Older and Younger Workers

A new report calls for urgent action to protect and retrain both older and younger workers – the groups most at risk of joining the long-term unemployed once the UK has recovered from the recession.

According to the report from the Local Government Association. in the last 3 months of 2008, 1 in 4 of people being made redundant were men over the age of 50 (39,000) and 1 in 4 (38,000) were people between the age of 18 and 24. Unless action is taken now Britain risks the creation of a ‘lost generation’ of young people falling into long-term unemployment because of the recession.

The LGAs report also warns that it could take up to a decade for some parts of the country to recover fully from the recession. Previous recessions have left increasing numbers of people excluded from the labour market - in particular amongst the under 25s and the over 50s.

The recession of the early 80s saw persistent unemployment in large northern towns such as Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, whilst the downturn of the early 90s left long-term unemployment mainly in Cornwall and parts of Staffordshire.

The report shows that some areas will emerge from recession quicker than others based on experience from previous recessions. Some areas could take as long as a decade to recover fully from the recession. Successive recessions have added to the number of

people permanently excluded from the labour market.

Margaret Eaton, Chairman of the LGA, commented:

“Previous recessions have left tens of thousands of people unemployed for years, even decades, and stuck on dependency culture without the skills that they need to get a job. The devastating impact of this lost generation from previous recessions is still being felt in many parts of the UK today.

”People in their early twenties often don’t have the experience or training to get into the job market and those over 50 can find it impossible to retrain when they’re made redundant. These are the people most at risk and these are the people who need targeted support. It is deeply worrying that there could be even more young people simply dropping out of the system, who don’t have a job, aren’t in college or in training.

”It is vital that we, as a nation, learn from the mistakes of the past and act now to prevent more people being frozen out of the job market for decades to come.

“Every single person being made redundant or having difficulty making ends meet should contact their council to make sure that they are getting all the advice, support and benefits they’re eligible for.”

The LGA is calling for:

  • The Government to devolve a share of the £1bn fund for training and employment schemes to local authorities to ensure people who have been made redundant get the right training
  • Red tape to be cut to make it easier for councils, the Learning and Skills Councils and Jobcentre Plus to work more closely together
  • A change to proposed Welfare Reform legislation to give ministers power to delegate employment programmes to councils and groups of councils.

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