Yesterday Conservative MP Ben Bradley called on the Government to establish a youth full-time social action pilot in his constituency of Manfield in order to assess the impact of such a scheme on the employability of young people.
Addressing the House of Commons after securing a debate on youth full-time social action, Mr Bradley (himself only 29 years old) cited the success of similar such Government-backed initiatives in the USA, France and Germany which can attract over 150,000 participants each year.
Speaking in the debate, Ben said: “as I’ve often said before, university or college education isn’t the right path for all young people and I have concerns that we are pushing too many young people down an academic route for post-16 education. I would like to see full-time social action as a possible path into work for young people and would like to see it recognised by the Government as a good way of bridging the gap between formal education and employment.
“These initiatives provide value for money for the governments that invest in them. Evidence from the USA’s ‘AmeriCorps’ initiative suggests that for every dollar invested by the federal government, it receives almost $4 in return.”
Mr Bradley also stated his belief that a Government-backed youth full-time social action offer would build on the Government’s National Citizen Service programme for 16-17 year olds, ensuring it was not just a one-off intervention and that it instead creates a lifelong habit of social action.
After thanking City Year UK for their support in preparing for his speech, he then heaped praise on the charity and its volunteers saying: “its programmes are proven to improve work-readiness and the employability of volunteers. Its latest report shows that 90% of alumni are in employment, education or training within three months of finishing the programme.”
Contributing to the debate the Shadow Schools Minister Mike Kane MP praised the efforts of City Year UK full-time volunteers who have been supporting pupils in Baguley Hall Primary School in his constituency. Mike said: “alongside the staff team, City Year UK does vital work in helping to increase attendance, improve behaviour and outcomes, and support pupils.”
Closing his speech Mr Bradley urged the Government to take action: “I encourage the Government to consider a pilot scheme, perhaps in a deprived area such as Mansfield—it might be the ideal place to do that—to see what impact full-time social action has on young people’s employability.”
Responding for the Government, the Minister of Civil Society Mims Davies MP emphasised that the importance of social action to UK society. However, she also ruled out taking further action to establish a pilot programme.
To read the debate’s text click here.