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Food firms to help defuse youth ‘time bomb’

By Mike Stones , 22-Feb-2012
Last updated on 22-Feb-2012 at 12:03 GMT

Nick Clegg: determined to defuse the

Nick Clegg: determined to defuse the "ticking time bomb" of youth unemployment. For more information about our free skills seminar contact Hannah Rosevear on 01293 610431 or email Hannah.Rosevear@wrbm.com

UK food and drink manufacturers have pledged their support for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s plan to encourage 16- and 17-year-olds who are not in work, education or training (NEET), back into earning or learning.

Clegg’s £126M scheme unveiled yesterday (February 21), to defuse what he described as “a ticking time bomb”, is part of the coalition's Youth Contract scheme.

Businesses and charities will be invited to bid for contracts worth up to £2,200 to employ young people. An initial payment will be made when employment starts followed by further payments when youngsters show progress.

The Food and Drink Federation’s director of competitiveness Angela Coleshill told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The FDF is currently considering how our members can support the government’s Youth Contract to help 18-24 year old unemployed people get a job. We think the scheme announced today … is a good initiative, particularly the incentive for SMEs [small- to medium-sized enterprises] to take on apprentices.”

Free skills seminar

For more information about apprenticeships in food and drink manufacturing, make a date to attend our free Skills Seminar on the morning of Monday March 26 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham. The seminar will take place alongside the Food and Drink Expo and Foodex shows.

Although food and drink manufacturers do not recruit many 16-17 year olds, due to complex health and safety regulations, Coleshill said it was an FDF priority to encourage more young people into the sector.

“As part of our Taste Success campaign we are working hard to reach out to young people to encourage them to join the food and drink manufacturing industry, and any action that encourages young people to consider work in areas that they have previously not considered is welcome,” said Coleshill.

“Although incentives for business are a useful tool, we are very keen to get to the root of the problem through better careers advice in schools and improved links with schools and industry.”

Jon Poole, chief executive of the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) welcomed the initiative “given the constant need take on basic skilled workers”.

Simple and transparent

But he added:“If this is to work, the process for supporting and financing this scheme will need to be simple and transparent. What appeared like an ideal way of supporting non-government bodies via the Growth Innovation Fund has proved to be much more difficult to access than was originally suggested.”

At least 55,000 young people are thought to be not in full-time training, education or employment.

Clegg said: “Sitting at home with nothing to do when you’re so young can knock the stuffing out of you for years. It is a tragedy for the young people involved, a ticking time bomb for the economy and our society as a whole.”

The free Skills Seminar, organised by our sister title Food Manufacture in conjunction with the IFST, is intended for HR directors and managers.

On offer will be a wealth of information about the latest manufacturing apprenticeship schemes and a new transferable skills initiative.

For more information about the event, which will take place at the NEC on the morning of Monday March 26, or to book your free place, click here or contact Hannah Rosevear on 01293 610431 or email Hannah.Rosevear@wrbm.com .

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