The decision to continue funding Jobs Growth Wales without any changes to the scheme to incorporate skills development has been branded “nothing short of absurd” by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
The Welsh Government have announced a continuation of the scheme using EU funds of £25 million from the European Social Fund for a further three years. During the current financial year the Welsh Government will spend £9.3 million on the programme together with EU funds of £8.3 million.
In September 2014, a Welsh Government report found that 73% of those on JGW placements would have found work without the Government scheme. It also noted significant failings to target those young people most in need of help to find work, particularly in Communities First areas. Participants on the scheme were also shown to be trapped in low wages, earning only 67% of the average for their age group whilst on the scheme, and only 76% of the average for their age group after they finish.
Eluned Parrott AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister, said:
“The Welsh Labour Government need to stop wasting money on this ineffective scheme and invest in apprenticeships and training, which will actually give young people professional skills and help them get on in life. The Welsh Lib Dems want to see an apprenticeship revolution in Wales because we need to invest in the future of our young workforce.
“I’ve been utterly baffled as to why Welsh Labour Ministers have heralded Jobs Growth Wales as a success when their own evaluation shows the scheme has serious failings. The fact that the Welsh Labour Government has renewed this scheme seemingly without making any changes is nothing short of absurd.
“Labour’s own evaluation report said that this scheme locked young people into lower than average wages, and that 73% would’ve found work without it. Today’s unemployment figures show that Wales is lagging behind the rest of the UK, and that anything they have resembling an economic strategy isn’t working.
“Warning sign after warning sign has been sent the Welsh Labour Government’s way, but their Ministers seem completely unwilling to pull their heads out of the sand and admit they’re getting it wrong. We need to be investing in skills and infrastructure to create a sustainable recovery from which everyone can benefit, not throwing money at inefficient vanity projects that produce good statistics but don’t actually work.”