CHANCELLOR Sunak’s £2 billion fund for youth unemployment initiatives for under-25s is very welcome. However, how it is used is important.

In the 80s when youth unemployment was enormous, the Youth Opportunity Programme (YOP) and Youth Training Schemes (YTS) tried to solve this problem. Regrettably, too many employers saw this as a source of cheap labour, and did not deliver any meaningful work or training for future employment, dumping young people back on the dole and taking on another free worker in their place.

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Hopefully we can learn from past mistakes, and create an approach for youth unemployment that is fit for purpose. We need to harness the energy, intelligence, free-thinking ingenuity, idealism and integrity of young people to create better ways of working in the future. Our governments talk a good game about future jobs being created in conservation, climate change, rewinding the land, clearing up plastic pollution, planting millions of trees, retro-fitting insulation in homes and support for small enterprise.

We need a dynamic scheme, to support young people in transition from education to work, that uses their skill sets to address major flaws in our society such as climate change, homelessness, care for the old the disabled and the vulnerable, the arts, creative youth-led social business and leisure.

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Computer-literate young people know how to harness social media for the common good. Funding for all youth services that could address knife crime, serious mental health problems among children and young people, and lack of exercise leading to obesity, has been cut to the bone. Some money should be directed to them.

Scotland has a strong track record in creatively supporting young people, which we can learn from. In 1979, the Young Scot national youth information project took on 20 16-18-year-olds from the YOP scheme and set them loose to research the information needs of young people. The result was the first Young Scot Book, given free to every secondary school pupil. It was so successful that it then spread to the whole of Europe. The spin-off was phenomenal.

All of the YOPers ended up either in further education, found a job or were inspired to go off and do their own thing: setting up businesses, volunteering or travelling.

Young Scot then tried to multiply up this success story, creating the Youth Enquiry Service. YES set up more than 150 youth information cafes, run by young people for young people, across the land. The idea that information empowers people, if you can support them to use the information creatively, was demonstrated thousands of times in the lives of these young people.

One spin-off was that young people developed award-winning health education materials, and delivered thousands of workshops to teens on smoking, alcohol, drugs, AIDS and sexual health and metal health. These were issues that neither schools nor the government were able or willing to address. The number of young lives that were turned around was amazing.

If we are serious about addressing the youth unemployment crisis, let’s use our resources to trust young people to solve the problems.

Max Cruickshank

WITH the probability of a huge increase in number of people becoming unemployed as we come out of this crisis I would suggest that now is the time for the Westminster Government to revisit the UK pensions system.

We in the UK currently have the worst or very near worst pensions in Europe. A reduction in pension age and improved pension would free up a substantial number of jobs because many people have been caught up in a lengthened working life they did not intend. Also, and importantly, addressing the WASPI issue would help rectify this disgraceful injustice.

Douglas Stanley