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Letters: We want real jobs, not YTS schemes

As young unemployed people under a Tory government that wants to demonise and scapegoat us for the consequences of a global economic crisis, Polly Toynbee’s article (These empty apprenticeship schemes are failing our young, 9 February) exposing the hollow nature of the work programme is a welcome one. Maria Miller, minister in the Department of Work and Pensions, seems desperate to characterise us as lazy and feckless scroungers – deeply offensive coming from someone who used £90 of public money to pay a gardener for work on the second home she “scrounged” £23,000 for.

Rather than blaming us for our situation and trying to convince us that eight weeks of unpaid shelf-stacking for Tesco amounts to a future, the government should accept both the failure of Project Merlin, and the CIPD report (Unemployment likely to worsen as private sector resorts to redundancies, 13 February) showing that the private sector plans to cut jobs, not “pick up the slack” for public sector cuts, as evidence that their politics of austerity is failing. Pictures of people lining up at soup kitchens in Greece show where this path leads if followed blindly. We want real jobs, not a rerun of the YTS schemes of the 80s – we challenge the government to change course and provide them.
Mark Dunk, Rhia Lawrence, Alexandra Sayer, Richard Donnelly

• Minister for skills and lifelong learning John Hayes’s claim (Letters, February 13) of “irrefutable evidence” of “the government’s unprecedented investment” in apprenticeships doesn’t match reality. Only £50m has been pledged to help “the most disadvantaged young” into apprenticeships or work, which, when set against the scrapping of £750m for the education maintenance allowance and an unknown sum for the scrapping of the adult learner grant, plus the future scrapping of free places for first-time level 2 (over 25) and level 3 (over 24) courses by the end of this parliament, is scarcely a drop in an oilcan. The expectation that private funding will somehow make up the difference, is, with youth unemployment running at a record high, less than credible. As for access students, already struggling to balance work, home life and study, the notion of lifelong learning doesn’t even have a half-life. So much for further education.
Bruce Ross-Smith
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