Where is the leadership and vision for productive future?

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The reaction of Callaghan’s Old Labour government to high youth unemployment during the 1970s, was to introduce the Youth Opportunities Scheme (YOPS) whereby participants would be provided with six months’ work experience whilst in receipt of benefit.

This was supposed to act as a stepping stone to permanent paid employment. Yet due to a lack of quality places on the scheme per se and a further lack of jobs upon completion, the YOPS “initiative” became unpopular with youths.

The scheme was made compulsory and most victims ended up falling foul of a revolving door syndrome; where they would be expected to undertake six months’ poor quality “work experience” then spend a year out of work before being forced back on to the scheme.

The YOPS was extended to two years’ compulsory duration on pain of the usual iniquitous benefit sanction for non-compliance, thus becoming the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) which no amount of political spin could disguise from its continuing failure.

Nevertheless, successive governments have persisted in pouring untold hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into practically the same YOPS scheme but under different names with predictably the same result.

And now some 45 years or more since its inception, Prime Minister David Cameron appears to be extolling the virtues of yet another dose of the same heavily corked wine in the same bottle but with a different label.

PM Cameron’s “statement of intent” regarding youth unemployment and the other parties’ reaction, thus lead one to ask where is the vision and leadership for a productive future in the 21st century to come from? When all we have at present is a load of affluent professional politicians playing politics with each other at public expense.

Michael Parker

Robertshaw Cresc, Deepcar