Labour conference: Sheerman moots plan to raise the participation age to 25

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 02 October 2012

Young people could be required to participate in compulsory education, training or employment up to the age of 25, a Labour MP has suggested.

Sheerman is leading the Labour Party policy review on schools and transitions to work. Image: Emilie Sandy

Barry Sheerman, who is leading the Labour Party policy review on schools and transitions to work, said the move would reduce youth unemployment and crime levels.

Addressing an audience at a Labour conference fringe event, Sheerman said the plan could become one of the party’s signature policies in the lead up to the next general election.

“My idea is that you could have a policy that would abolish unemployment up to the age of 25,” he said. “Research shows that if you keep a young person out of crime until 25, they don’t become a criminal.”

Sheeman, who is the former chair of the education select committee, added that researchers at the House of Commons library had calculated the cost of keeping every young person in either a job, education or in training up to the age of 25.

“It would cost us four to five billion per year,” he said. 
“But in terms of payback in the broader social value, I think it’s damn good.

Meanwhile at a separate conference fringe meeting, Labour MP Julie Hilling warned that young people are suffering as a result of government cuts to youth services.

Speaking at the event hosted by the National Youth Agency, Hilling, a former youth worker and president of the British Youth Council, said the government wants to do things “for free” when it comes to youth services.

She added that it is a “huge task” to convince politicians that the youth service should be as resourced to the same degree as other local authority services for children and young people.

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