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Work experience is crucial for young job-seekers to compete, says REC

Work experience is crucial for young job-seekers to compete, says REC

The REC has welcomed this week's announcement by Employment Minister Chris Grayling that the Government would be putting measures in place to expand work experience opportunities. The need to build bridges into the world of work by equipping young job-seekers with practical work experience was a key recommendation of the REC's Youth Employment Taskforce.

Specific measures announced as part of the Government's plans include extending the maximum work experience period from two to eight weeks. The REC will also be pushing for further measures to be explored, such as allowing young people claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) to undertake internships at an earlier stage. At present, only those who have been on JSA for six months can undertake such unpaid work and keep their allowances, despite the fact that such experience is one of the surest means of helping them into paid jobs.

Commenting on the Government's plans, Gillian Econopouly, the REC's Head of Policy, says:

"Young people in our country are facing a perfect storm of a struggling economy, an increasingly competitive jobs market and limited opportunities for developing practical experience within the workplace. One in five 16 to 24 year olds is now out of work - the highest rate since records began in 1992.

"Even those with strong academic backgrounds recognise the need to complement this with some practical experience. Increasing university fees and the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance will make it increasingly important to ensure that there is a swift transition into the world of work.

"We need to come up with innovative ways of developing awareness and workplace skills. We also need lift restrictions such as the six month rule for JSA claimants which precludes many young job seekers from undertaking internships despite the fact that such experience is one of the surest means of helping them into paid jobs."

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