John Rider, West Midlands chairman of the Institute of Directors, said: “The latest figures on youth unemployment are deeply disappointing.
“What matters is training young people for real jobs rather than phantom jobs – we must take employability very seriously. But that also means creating the circumstances which will generate real jobs.
“Government growth initiatives are important and there is a lot riding on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Action now is required, not ‘jam tomorrow’. Jaguar Land Rover and others are showing the way – it can be done. But the scale of the task is huge, particularly in the West Midlands where there is a massive divide between those who are highly skilled and highly employable and the many who have either no worthwhile skills at all or inappropriate qualifications.
“Talent is currently being wasted, let down by the system. All too often young people are turned into round pegs when the only jobs are in square holes. No wonder they get disillusioned and disaffected. There needs to be much greater integration between Government, industry, schools, universities and colleges to prepare and channel young people into sectors where work exists and which offers the possibility of a bright future.
“Let’s use apprenticeships in a way that makes more sense. They should be targeted at the younger end of the age scale. Surely having 4,000 apprentices over the age of 60 has devalued the brand.
“Elected representatives must stop using jobs as a political football. All parties should work together. This subject is too crucial to be treated lightly.
“Only then will we be ready to take advantage when better economic times arrive.”