BUSINESS leaders in Hampshire have been airing their concerns directly to employment minister Mark Hoban.
The minister, who is also MP for Fareham, was in his constituency to talk about job creation and skills at an invitation-only event organised by the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.
Tackling youth unemployment, red tape in the workplace and welfare reform were among the issues raised by chief executives and other senior directors at the breakfast meeting at the Lysses Hotel.
Mr Hoban insisted jobs were being created despite slow economic growth.
He was keen to highlight the package of support available to employers through the government’s Youth Contract launched last April. The initiative is intended to help unemployed people aged 18 to 24 find work through apprenticeships and work experience placements.
Mr Hoban said employers could receive up to £2,275 when they take on a young person who has been out of work for six months or more.
He added: ‘The business case for taking on people who have been out of work for a long time is that they do return that investment. It’s good for the economy.’
Mr Hoban said the government’s aim was to tackle the regulatory burden, run a competitive tax system and improve skills. Those skills needed for business such as technical and vocational skills were a key priority, he said.
Chamber members also raised questions about pensions, wages and career guidance in schools.
After the meeting, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jimmy Chestnutt said: ‘Despite some encouraging labour market figures recently, we continue to see weak employment growth, especially in service and manufacturing, so we were very grateful to Mark Hoban for coming along to hear our questions and concerns face to face.’