Jobless figures spark EMA call

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Calls have been made for a renewed focus on Apprenticeships and the restoration of the full Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) after the latest youth unemployment figures made for grim reading.

Figures released last week show there are 979,000 16 to 24-year-olds currently unemployed in the UK, 20,000 up when compared to the previous quarter.

The figure of 3.66 million 16 to 24-year-olds in employment is also 62,000 down, the data from the Office of National Statistics shows.

Both the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) called on the government to prioritise Apprenticeships and work skills.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “We need many more high quality workplace-based Apprenticeships, all of them paying at least the living wage and which lead to guaranteed employment.”

Meanwhile, FSB chairman John Allan added: “The FSB wants the government to focus on supporting small firms to take on apprentices and boosting young people’s employability skills.”

Meanwhile, the Association of School and College Leaders said the figures make the current discussion over the national curriculum reforms even more urgent and repeated its calls for the curriculum consultation to be extended to July. Critics have argued the reforms focus too much on the academic at the expense of employability skills and vocational education.

Elsewhere, Ms Blower said the restoration of the EMA would help prevent a “situation whereby it is only those with money who can continue in education”. The 

£560 million a year EMA was scrapped and replaced with a £180 million bursary fund, meaning many students in poverty now miss out on the weekly payments to help them stay in education.


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