By Matthew Barrett
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Chris Grayling has done the media rounds this morning, reacting to news about unemployment – the figures for which showed that the number out of work rose by 114,000 between June and August to 2.57m, and that youth unemployment rose by 74,000 to 991,000 – a record high.
Grayling told John Humphrys on the Today programme that the government is very concerned about youth unemployment, and announced a new scheme on the programme:
"For example, for young people today we are launching out new sector-based work academies, part of a programme that will offer 350,000 places for young people to get support back into the workplace over the next two years. All the people I talk to express concern about youth unemployment and we want to see young people getting into the workplace as soon as possible. We have created 100,000 new apprenticeships since the elections. The combination of our work experience programme and the sector-based work academies… it’s all designed to give people under 24 who have not been in employment the chance to take that first step into the workplace, to show an employer what they can do and hopefully then move on into an apprenticeship."
Mr Grayling then appeared on BBC Five Live:
"…our goal, the programmes that we've put together, are all designed to help young people get into the work place for a period of time, for a period of work experience and training, so that they can show employers what they can do. I think that the key thing for any young person is to employment, and what we're all about with the support we're providing, is to help them take a first step on the employment ladder. … One of the constant complaints from young people is the old adage: if you can't get a job, you can't get experience, but you can't get a job unless you've got the experience."
Finally, Grayling stepped in front of the cameras, telling BBC News that the figures are "not at all positive. I think what we're now seeing, I'm afraid, is the impact of the international financial crisis, the troubles in the eurozone on the economy in this country."
He expanded on this European point:
"We have already seen big drops in growth in countries like France and Germany. We know there has been a fall off of economic activity in the United States. We are not immune from those changes, although we are not part of the eurozone, inevitably we are affected. If you look at what Sir Mervyn King said last week, we are in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, possibly ever. … If you look at our position today compared with some of the countries in continental Europe, like Greece, like Portugal for example, these are countries running a lower budget deficit than we are. The only reason we have retained the confidence of the financial markets and are not in the same position is because we have set a clear direction to reduce the deficit. If we hadn’t done that business confidence would be disappearing before us and we would see unemployment rise much faster than it has. In order to retain the stability of our economy it is absolutely essential that we deal with our deficit."