James Alexander: Go for growth or a generation of young will suffer
AS figures last week showed starkly, more than any other group, young people in Scotland currently face a tough time in the labour market.
Nearly a quarter of young Scots are looking for work, while those who are in employment find their hard-earned qualifications are not being put to good use in the workplace.
This is not only a tragedy for the young people concerned; it is also a serious problem for the economy of Scotland. The solution to tackling this serious problem of youth unemployment and under-employment and to avoid a lost generation of young people with no jobs, no hope and no aspiration is a return to economic growth.
For many years, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) has worked with civic and business Scotland to promote the economic agenda and develop the policies and priorities needed for growth. In dialogue with politicians in Holyrood and Westminster, we have highlighted the key actions we believe are essential to return Scotland to economic growth and create a prosperous nation that provides opportunities for all of Scotland’s young people to achieve their potential.
SCDI believes that future growth will come from innovation, investment and internationalisation – as such, Scotland particularly needs to stimulate business growth and entrepreneurship, improve our connectivity, unlock opportunities in our energy sector and cities, apply additional capital resources to develop our key infrastructure, and focus on doubling the value of our exports by 2020.
Finally, it is essential that the skills sector plays its role – young people must receive the skills required by employers. This doesn’t just mean the academic expertise needed to perform a role, but the commercial and workplace skills essential for success in employment. Entrepreneurship, team working, leadership and communication are all vital skills. Employers and learning providers need to work in partnership to deliver these.
If we don’t work together and focus our efforts on growth now, our young people will live to regret our loss of focus.
• James Alexander is senior policy and communications manager SCDI.
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