BUSINESSES in Milton Keynes were urged to take on apprentices or risk a lost generation when the economic recovery takes hold.
John Cridland, director general of business pressure group the CBI spoke out at the UCMK annual lecture in the city on Wednesday.
Mr Cridland said: “I would urge businesses to take on their first or an extra apprentice and not just the young, older workers, too.”
Speaking on the subject of 2011 – Good Year or Bad Year for Britain’s Economy, Mr Cridland said it would take Britain’s economy until 2012 to get back to the size it was in 2008.
“We will have had five tough years,” he said, adding that unemployment will continue to rise. Sixteen-to-24 year olds face a jobless rate of around 20 per cent.
Dr Philip Smith, chairman of lecture organisers Milton Keynes Business Leaders, said: “I am concerned about the 20.5 per cent rate of unemployment for 16-24-year-olds.
“If we do not get to grips with it, the problem of youth unemployment is going to be with us for some time.”
Mr Cridland told an audience of about 100 business, academic and community leaders that the economy faced a ‘new dawn’ but one that had a ‘nasty hangover’ from bingeing on cheap credit.
But he added that he did not support calls for public sector cuts to be reduced. “There should be no plan B,” he said.
> The MK Business Leaders second annual lecture was sponsored by Milton Keynes-based business services firm PwC, who donated £1,000 to Willen Hospice.