The BBC‘s Andrew Neil has popped the bubble of work and pensions secretary Esther McVey and rubbished her claim that “supporting the youth of this country has been a top priority of this government since 2010”.
McVey tweeted an article she wrote for the Daily Express, boasting about low youth unemployment:
UK’s youth unemployment falling by 45% since 2010 has not happened by accident.
It’s happened because supporting the youth of this country has been a top priority of this government since 2010https://t.co/SwpIdojvk1
— Esther McVey (@EstherMcVey1) August 19, 2018
She focuses specifically on the DWP’s commitment to apprenticeships, boasting that:
there have been more than 1.4million starts since 2015.
If supporting youth is such a priority, why are apprenticeship starts down 30% in 10 months to May — and why is the system still riddled with fake apprenticeships? https://t.co/cQW1Ue6PLc
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) August 20, 2018
Between August 2017 and March 2018, apprenticeship starts dropped by 27.92%. And Neil states that these statistics are “riddled with fake apprenticeships”. Parenta, a leading provider of childcare apprenticeships, describes typical ‘fake apprenticeships’:
Employers are bringing in young workers and labelling them as apprentices, however, these learners are then finishing their ‘course’ with part (if any) qualifications and no real adequate learning or experience.
This is an experience that seems worryingly common:
Where you set one up just to have cheap labour then bin em off at the end of it and get a ' new one ' happens a lot in hairdressers and the like in this area
— Paul Shelley. (@pashelley) August 20, 2018
That's because it needs to be a proper qualification. Too many unscrupulous employers were taking on 'apprentices' as cheap labour without actually teaching them anything so quality standards were applied to prevent it. Doesn't really help you though.
— SweetSmokeScreen – European (@sweetsmokscreen) August 20, 2018
Agree with that, they often take on cheap labour for a year and then there is no job at the end, because they just get a whole new bunch of young people for cheap for the following year.
— ChicaMusique (@chicamusique) August 20, 2018
And the Times reported that the government has “little chance” of meeting its target of creating “three million apprenticeships by April 2020”.
Don’t believe the hype
Whenever the government gloats about rising employment statistics, it’s important to revisit its definition of employment:
Therefore, the government considers someone who works only an hour a week as employed. This is significant, as this government has presided over a meteoric rise in zero-hours contracts. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of people employed in this manner increased threefold to 582,935. And official statistics from 2017 state that this figure now sits at 901,000.
Research by the Resolution Foundation found that 33% of people on zero-hours contracts are aged 16 to 24, meaning that McVey’s delirium at lowering youth unemployment should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt.
As the BBC reported, a recent report by Child Poverty Action Group found:
Low-earning parents working full-time are still unable to earn enough to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle.
If people working full time can’t make ends meet, then someone working one hour a week hasn’t got a hope in hell. It’s no wonder in-work poverty is at an all-time high.
The messenger is key
When even Neil is openly calling out the government, you know something is seriously wrong:
It's called a lie Andrew, but I've never seen you bother before as you repeat them.
— Never Trust A Tory (or the BBC) (@pplwhocantpark) August 21, 2018
It’s critical to remember that, when it comes to this government’s ‘good news stories’, there’s always more than meets the eye.
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