The history and politics of the Youth Opportunities Programme 1978-1983
The purpose of the thesis is to analyse the function fulfilled by the Youth Opportunities Programme (1978-1983) in its wider political, economic and historical context. There are three main sections to the work. The first establishes the context from which the Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP) emerged. This includes: an analysis of the origins and early development of the Manpower Services Commission (MSC); an historical account of government policy and special measures for the relief of unemployment; and a description of the circumstances and manner in which these elements came together in the development of the MSC's special measures policy, leading to the launch of YOP in April 1978. It is concluded that the initial role of the programme was essentially that of a palliative in the context of the Labour Government's social contract relationship with the trade union movement rather than being a positive element in the MSC's development of a comprehensive manpower policy. The second section is concerned with the actual development and performance of the programme in relation to its original objectives. This includes national level analyses in terms of both quantitative and qualitative objectives, and the conclusions of a case study conducted in the Portsmouth Travel-to-Work Area. The third section examines the significance of the divergences revealed between objectives and results, both in the context of contemporary political and economic developments, and also in a wider historical context which includes the initial progress made by YOP's successor, the Youth Training Scheme (YTS). It is concluded that, although YOP continued to act as a palliative, it developed beyond this towards a new form of active manpower policy consistent with a monetarist macro-economic context. On the basis of this analysis, alternative scenarios for the future are briefly considered.