SECURING apprenticeships for people when they leave school must become a priority to reduce high youth unemployment rates.
A recent YouGov poll found the state of the jobs market facing youngsters was the third most important issue in the country, behind the economy and immigration.
But Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, says the issue ranks much higher than the current economic climate and border policies.
He said: “I would argue that youth unemployment isn’t the third biggest issue facing Blackpool, but in fact the first issue.
“We currently have 665 young people on Jobseeker’s Allowance and although I am encouraged this has fallen from the peak of early last year with 755 people, there is still more to do.
“Apprenticeships is a key tool in tackling youth unemployment and I am pleased to see a 79 per cent increase in the numbers created in the North West since the Conservative led Government was formed.
“We now need to focus on driving up the quality as well as the numbers.”
The constituency of Blackpool South has 885 people searching for a job over the last 12 months, all of whom are still claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Gordon Marsden, Labour MP for the constituency, has urged the Government to support businesses to help them provide apprenticeships.
He added: “The economy isn’t picking up so employers don’t have the confidence to take people on and the support given to small businesses, who generate these jobs, hasn’t been strong enough from the Government.
“A lot of young people are not getting the skills they need to find a job when they leave education to compete in the jobs market.”
The latest figures, from November 2012, show Wyre has 200 claimants and Fylde has 275 18 to 24-year-olds on Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Ben Wallace, MP for Wyre and Preston North, added: “The Government has set up a £1bn package to help tackle youth unemployment which includes wage incentives for businesses who take on 18 to 24-year-olds and has dramatically increased the number of apprenticeships available to give young people the skills they need to get on and get ahead in the workplace.
“Youth unemployment is low in the constituency of Wyre and Preston North but I am not complacent and will continue to work with schools and employers to help bring it down further.”