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Suffolk: Chamber chief calls for a Budget to boost youth employment, training and enterprise

06:00 04 March 2014

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

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Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has backed calls for Chancellor George Osborn to focus on youth employment, training and enterprise in his Budget later this month.

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British Chambers of Commerce, of which Suffolk Chamber is an accredited member, has urged Mr Osborne to provide funding for a £100million Future Workforce Grant scheme offering a £1,000 payment to businesses which hire long-term unemployed young people or a new apprentice.

BCC says that this would create 100,000 new jobs this year, and help to bridge the gap before the National Insurance exemption already announced for employing people aged under 21 is introduced in 2015.

Its submission also calls for a two-year extension to the successful Apprenticeships Grant for Employers (AGE) scheme to help create 80,000 additional apprenticeships, with demand from candidates having so far outstripped the supply of apprenticeship vacancies by as much as 12 to one, and an increase in tax relief through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) to encourage investment in businesses run by young entrepreneurs aged under 24.

“Now is the right time to focus on youth employment, training and enterprise,” said John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber. “These are all crucial to securing future growth and avoiding a ‘lost generation’ as the UK economy continues to recover.”

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics showed a fall in youth unemployment but Mr Dugmore said that, while this was encouraging, the jobless rate among young people remained far to high, with them being nearly three times as likely to be unemployed compared with the rest of the UK population.

“We know from our members there are concerns about the work readiness of young people,” he said. “There are challenges with young people having the right skills for the workplace which is why we have seen persistent youth unemployment which must be addressed.

“The Chancellor must bring in concrete measures to promote business investment in young people aged 16 to 24.”

Mr Dugmore added: “The introduction of such things as enhanced tax incentives for those investing in companies run by young entrepreneurs, who often say they can’t get growth funding from banks or other sources, have to be considered.

“Our campaign here in the county for Business is Good for Suffolk is about everyone in Suffolk and that needs to include young people looking for work.

“If the Chancellor helps businesses overcome the real risks they are facing today, the private sector will invest in a skilled workforce for the future.”

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