Unemployed youngsters in Cornwall will be stripped of benefits if they fail to improve their maths and English skills under the latest Government scheme.
Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, said 18 to 21-year-olds who left school without a grade C at GCSE will be put on compulsory training courses as soon as they claim Jobseekers’ Allowance.
The scheme will be piloted in Cornwall and other areas and signals a desire by the Liberal Democrats to be seen as being tough on welfare in the run-up to the next election.
Mr Clegg said: “From day one of signing up for unemployment benefit, these young people will need to show they have those maths and English qualifications that every job demands.
“If they don’t, their adviser will get them on that training immediately to ensure that if you’re not earning, you’re still learning.
“We’re looking at using the latest online learning technologies, so you can fit this training around the other responsibilities in your life.
“If you don’t do this training, you won’t get your Jobseekers Allowance.”
The latest figures show more than 73,000 teenagers in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall are not in education, employment or training – or so-called “Neets”.
If the pilots are successful, Mr Clegg wants to see them rolled out across the country.
For the first time Jobcentres will also be told to help 16 and 17-year-olds looking for work.
At the launch of the scheme at a school in South West London Mr Clegg told pupils: “‘You’ll, finally, have someone there you can talk to about your options and who can give you information about different schemes like Apprenticeships and Traineeships and help you apply for jobs or training places.”