My message to Nick Clegg – A Better Future for 16 Year Olds

Dear Deputy Prime Minister,

This message is sent to you on behalf of my Sheffield constituents in my role as a Member of the UK Youth Parliament. It is in response to the news last week of the year-on-year increase by a staggering 33,000 young people in Yorkshire and Humberside not in Education, Employment or Training. As one of the worst hit regions, we make up approximately 24% of the overall rise of 137,000 NEETs in Britain today. Moreover, in March earlier this year, it was reported that our region’s young people suffered the most as a result of the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance. These figures reveal the dim prospects that many young people in our region – and across the country, are facing in the very near future. It is my belief that when young people miss out on the opportunity for any kind of learning, it is a terrible failure. Young people with higher standards of skills have better job prospects and fewer reasons to disengage with society.

On Friday 25th November, you announced a £1 Billion package to be spent over the next three years to provide the young unemployed with extra help, as part of a new “Youth Contract”. I believe the 160,000 wage incentive job subsidies for employers to take on 18-24 year olds from the Work Programme, beginning in 2012/13, is an excellent start that will better the odds for many young people in the three years it will run. The decision to offer support from the Work Programme to 18-24 year olds after 3 months is also a positive sign that the government is acknowledging the danger of young people slipping through the cracks in the period between school and working life. However, it is my belief that the government should consider the possibility of extending access to the Work Programme and the benefits offered to those 18 and over, to those aged 16 and over. By providing a safety net of access to the Work Programme at 16, when the statutory GCSE (and equivalent) education has been completed, the government could surely rescue many young people from adding to the NEETs statistics. Moreover by making these young people eligible for the 160,000 subsidised jobs now available, and the 250,000 Work Experience placements, it would create a much easier transition for those young people eager to enter the world of work. Capturing young people as soon as possible, when they have not gone into further or higher education, is essential to keeping youth unemployment and long term unemployment at a low.

Furthermore, I have questions with regard to the new government apprenticeships announced and in relation to how the work programme will be organised. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of building up practical skills and they give young people the opportunity to gain experience in something that they are already enthusiastic about. The extra 20,000 incentives for employers to take on apprenticeships is a great step.  However, what will be the scope of these apprenticeships? Skilled apprenticeships for people already qualified to a certain level are of course necessary, but beginners in a field who are passionate but lack experience in a profession must not be overlooked. I would ask you to specify how these apprenticeships will be accessible to all young people of varying qualification levels, and to what age groups? As with the Work Programme, would access at 16 not prove the most beneficial for young people? Secondly, will the Youth Contract organise itself in recognition of the regional disparities in NEETs figures? As I have already stated, our region of Yorkshire and Humberside has had the highest increase since last year of young people NEET. The spending power of the £1 Billion should in my opinion be allocated on the basis of affording more resources to the regions that require them most, putting power in the hands of regional Job Centres to assess how best to fight youth unemployment.

In line with this decentralised approach, I believe that funding for Education must also be regionally considered. As was mentioned, EMA’s abolition has hit Yorkshire and Humberside the hardest, and could have the consequences of dissuading many young people from proceeding into post-16, academic education. The government must not solely focus on young people without jobs. There is of course a great case to be made for education in colleges and sixth forms, to be promoted to as many young people as possible. The benefits of education, far outstrip the costs of any scheme that incentivises continued learning for disadvantaged young people, making the eventual prospect of University education a real possibility for many of them.

Today’s strikes and the Autumn Statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the 29th November, have presented a bleak outlook for many young people. The pay freezes for the public sector, the 310,000 fewer public sector jobs, and the announced rise in the pension age 10 years ahead of schedule, could deter many 18-24 year olds on the cusp of entering work, from pursuing careers in the venerable professions of Teaching, Medicine and the Emergency Services. I look forward to your response to the proposals I have laid out,  and to the questions I have asked on the youth employment schemes.

Regards

Harrison Carter
Member of UK Youth Parliament for Sheffield

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Why Jobs and Training for Young People Matter

We read in the news today that young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) have reached just over 1 million. The 1,163,000 young people aged 16-24 are the real cost of the government’s failure to seriously address youth joblessness. Yorkshire and Humberside, the region hurt worst by the cuts in EMA, is also the region which has seen the biggest rise in young people being let down by the government’s inaction. 33,000 more young people are being denied the chance of a stable future.

As I said earlier this month in the House of Commons, education is the right of all young people. I have long been an advocate of training for both skilled and yet to be trained young people. In a challenge to the Employment Minister Chris Grayling MP sent 17th April 2011, I called for substantive policies that would reduce youth unemployment.

I believe that every drop out from any kind of learning is a terrible failure. It is the government’s duty to do more than the promises it has made today to “take action now to address this issue”. Specific plans to fight this failing is what is required. Young people with higher standards of skills have better job prospects and fewer reasons to disengage with society. The August Riots were in my opinion, an unnecessary display of violence and disregard for the law. However the right response is to correct the view held by many people that they have nothing to contribute and that they are not responsible citizens.

Harry speaks from the despatch box on the right to Education – Nov 4th 2011

It is my hope that the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement this Friday, on a plan for youth employment will produce practical policies that will use work opportunities as means for giving young people an identity in their communities. Following Mr Clegg’s announcement, I intend to respond with specific questions as to how his own Sheffield constituency and our region of Yorkshire and Humberside, will benefit from the job plans .

Harrison Carter
Sheffield – Member of UK Youth Parliament

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Speech on the Graduate Tax Campaign to the House of Commons

Harry Carter MYP’s Speech to the UK Youth Parliament
A motion in favour of supporting the Graduate Tax Campaign

November 4th 2011, House of Commons:

I propose that the Youth Parliament say no to tuition fees, and yes to graduate tax.

Scared of debt? Done everything possible academically, but fall short financially?

On EMA or income support, but can’t seem to get help to simply afford University?

It has become a stark reality in this country, that young people not only think twice about going to University but dismiss categorically the idea altogether.

The prospect of debt and unemployment is one that for many young people makes University impracticable

In the UK Youth Parliament report access denied – 1 in 3 young people said they wanted to go to University  but were not able to, due to the financial burden that comes with studying and living away from home.

 A figure that is set to skyrocket with proposals by the government to increase university tuition fees to a maximum of £9000 a year.

What’s more, past increases in the Maintenance Grant Threshold were not, and are still not enough to ensure  that everyone who wants to study at University, can

Crippling debt is locking out thousands of young people from their right to education, and their right to a stable, working, future.

The graduate tax in principle provides a safety net for graduates who come out of university and are unable to find a job.

The Higher Education Standards Authority revealed that 28% of UK Graduates were out of work three and a half years after graduation. – that’s over a quarter, that’s over a quarter of graduates

The income threshold for graduate tax would ensure that people in this undesirable situation would pay nothing until they’re in work.

And even better, a person on an average salary of £30 000 would be £37 better off each month.

It could be argued, that the abolition of tuition fees, would benefit young people more

But, contributing to a system that we benefit directly from, is a contribution we must all be willing to make.

The problem with the current system, is that tuition fees are snapped up by the treasury and not used to fund universities directly. In line with a graduate tax would be the formation of an independent body. This organisation would distribute graduate tax revenue directly to universities. This would offer a range of opportunities for Universities to compete globally.

We can hear arguments about the fact that because MPs have had free university education,  they shouldn’t ask us to pay for ours.

But don’t let that be the basis of your decision.

I’m sure the politicians would love to be at the centre of this debate, in the spotlight. But don’t let them be.

It would be naïve quite frankly to not give to something if we will inevitably gain from the service provided.

This is not to create a self-interested business out of education, but is instead to guarantee the same quality of education for everybody. Young person after young person, generation after generation

The simple logic is, that without money, and without resources, what does a university become?

The tax is saying pay the money when you can; no need to accrue masses of debt, and then pay it when you can’t

Is it right to accept fear as a barrier to Education? No

 Is it right to support others who can’t earn, and ask for a little extra from higher earners? Absolutely

 Shouldn’t universities be given the money they deserve? Of course

As a country, it is our duty to educate. As prospective undergraduates it is our right to learn.

Next year, there will be an estimated 9% drop in university applications after a fee rise we were promised would not happen.  SHRUG

This debate is on-going. It is time for us, the UK Youth Parliament to step up

Today, we must show our commitment to every single young person we represent.

Vote for fairness in education, better education and sustained funding for education.  Vote to take action on this campaign

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The Graduate Tax: Harry Carter’s Speech to Parliament

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Today in Parliament – Harry interviewed on Radio 4

In an interview with Mark D’Arcy, Harry speaks about the Graduate Tax and the UK Youth Parliament’s position in politics today, as well as his own belief in the mandate for change that its Members have from their young voters.

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Harry’s iPlayer Links

Some links to the programmes Harry took part in for the BBC, in the UK Youth Parliament debate, held in the House of Commons.

The BBC Parliament Broadcast Debate

 Today in Parliament Interview

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Harry Speaks to ITV on the Graduate Tax

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