Help small firms hire an apprentice, Roger House urges

Roger House, chairman of the FSB Kent and Medway
Roger House, chairman of the FSB Kent and Medway

by business editor Trevor Sturgess

The government has been urged to encourage small firms to hire apprentices as a way of reversing youth unemployment.

While Kent's overall claimant count fell by 928, latest figures showed that nationally there were 979,000 out-of-work 16 to 24-year-olds in the three months to February - up 20,000 from the previous quarter.

More than one in five people - 21.1% - in this age group are now classified as unemployed.

There were 3.66million in a job, down 62,000 from the previous three months. Those called economically inactive rose 28,000 to 2.6million. However, 73% were in full-time education.

Roger House, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses for Kent and Medway (pictured above right), said: "A reduction of 928 in the number of unemployed people in Kent and Medway is great news, even more so because it was across all areas of Kent and contrary to national unemployment numbers that showed an increase of 70,000.

"It is disappointing that we still have far too many unemployed young people. Particularly worrying is the number of 18 to 24-year-olds who have been out of work for more than a year. This is the fifth successive quarter where we've seen long-term unemployment rise among this age group.

"Clearly the total number of young people has for too long been sitting at a million, the FSB wants the government to focus on supporting small firms to take on apprentices and boosting young people’s employability skills."

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