THE chief executive of Greggs has called for the Government to intervene and end the "tragedy" of youth unemployment.
Ken McMeikan has lent his support to a CBI bid to tackle the rising number of jobless people by putting pressure on ministers to offer a tax break for firms hiring young staff.
Business leaders say they have come together to press the Government “to make it clear that welfare is not a career path.”
A report published today by the CBI business group makes proposals to tackle the problem and builds on work led by Mr McMeikan in his role chairing a national steering group on ways to improve the economy.
Mr McMeikan told The Journal: “Youth unemployment is a particular tragedy of our time. It destroys hope and undermines confidence that the young have in themselves at such a formative age. For a parent it is heart-breaking to see your child feeling unwanted and unable to make a meaningful start to their adult life by gaining the independence, sense of value and financial security that having a job actually provides.
“The North East is a fantastic place to live but we have got to create more employment. There are no simple or quick-fix answers to creating jobs, if there were we would have done them by now.”
In its report the CBI calls for a tax credit to be handed to firms hiring anyone aged 18-24 who has been on benefit for six months and anyone aged 16-17.
Firms taking part would be handed a credit of £1,500 in the 12th month of their employment. The CBI says this would more than cover the amount employers spend on National Insurance in the first year of employment for most employees and cost around £150m per year.
The group’s look at the economy comes as youth unemployment continues to rise nationally, with tens of thousands of young adults claiming unemployment benefits in the North East.
The region has one of the highest rates in the country for children growing up in homes in which no adult works. Some 223,000 families are dependant on the state as a result, amounting for 24% of households in the region.