A SHEFFIELD man whose 17-year-old son was killed on a government-backed training scheme nearly 30 years ago is warning that history could repeat itself.
Seventy-year-old Derek Cain’s son, also named Derek, died on a Youth Opportunities Programme placement at a Sheffield paper recycling plant.
Mr Cain went on to mount a campaign to raise awareness of the deaths of 85 young people on the YOPs scheme and the YTS scheme that followed it and took out a successful prosecution for negligence against the government.
Now, he fears placements recently announced as part of the £1 billion Youth Contract launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – who also happens to be his MP – could result in deaths and injuries hitting today’s teens,
Mr Clegg has pledged to create hundreds of thousands of work placements for young people, in the face of record levels of youth unemployment, by offering wage subsidies worth £2,275 to employers who take on 18- to 24-year-olds.
Young people who fail to sign up to a Youth Contract will be considered for ‘mandatory work activity’, while those who drop out of work experience or jobs without good reason will lose their benefits.
Mr Cain said: “Back in the ’80s there were 85 deaths in 10 years. I’m really concerned – I can see what happened in the ’80s happening again.
“They are offering money, like they did then when they offered young people £25 a week as wages and the employer got free labour.”
Mr Cain’s concerns have been heightened by the fact that his 16-year-old granddaughter, Katie, could end up on a Youth Contract scheme, and he fears she might face similar risks to those that killed his son. Mr Cain is also calling for a memorial to the 85 teenagers killed on work placements in the 1980s.