Embargo: Immediate Thursday 26 October 2006

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee are today launching an inquiry into Britain's employment and training opportunities for low-skilled young people.

With the Government's stated aim to achieve 50% of young people attending university, the Committee will investigate what provisions are in place for the other 50%. Will they be adequately equipped with sufficient qualifications and skills to be productive members of the labour force?

The Committee will consider various aspects of the problem with the aim of discovering what policies, if any, are needed to stimulate employment and productivity among young adults. Some of the questions the Committee will be seeking answers to are:

  • How do skill levels, productivity and employment rates amongst young people in the UK compare with other major economies?

  • Is there a particular problem concerning productivity and employment levels among the unskilled young? Is it different to the problems faced by unskilled workers, irrespective of age?

  • Have wage and employment opportunities for young people been affected significantly by labour migration from Eastern Europe over recent years?

  • How effective are current apprenticeship arrangements? Are new approaches needed?

Commenting ahead of the start of the inquiry, Lord Wakeham, Chairman of the committee, said:

"In comparison with many of its competitors, the UK has been fairly successful in generating higher employment over recent years. However, productivity remains relatively low, especially the productivity of our younger, unskilled workers.

"It is vital that young people who do not go to university are helped to develop alternative skills, so that they too can make a contribution to society. This is of fundamental importance to them as individuals as well as to the British economy.

"Our Committee would welcome evidence from a broad range of individuals and organisations, so that we can develop a clear idea of what needs to be done to ensure that Britain's young people have the training and employment opportunities they need."

Notes to Editors

1. A Call for Evidence was issued on 26th October 2006 and is available here:

2. The closing date for the submission of written evidence is Monday 8 January 2007.