As a coalition we are greatly encouraged by the Scottish Government’s recently published Procurement Reform Bill, proposing new laws designed to improve the way the public sector buys goods, works and services.
The bill proposes the substantial expansion of the use of so-called “community-benefit clauses” in higher value contracts.
Such clauses can bring extra benefits to certain groups when drawing up procurement contracts, in the case of the bill helping to promote training, apprenticeships and opportunities for disabled people and the long-term unemployed.
One key grouping which is adversely affected by economic recession and youth unemployment are those young people with disabilities.
Less than a quarter of all those aged 16 and over with learning difficulties or disabilities are in employment and fewer than 1 per cent of apprentices declared a disability.
That said, we are greatly encouraged by the Scottish Government’s actions in trying to get this group into training and employment, as evidenced in this bill and other measures.
The rewards for getting these young people, many of whom boast excellent skills, into work are well worth it, potentially addressing gaps in the labour market created by skills shortages and delivering higher loyalty and retention rates, as well as a strong work ethic.
Through measures such as the Procurement Reform Bill, we can continue to remove the stigma that has beset many of those with learning difficulties and disabilities, getting employers to see beyond the label to the individual.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition:
Spark of Genius
Who Cares? Scotland
Falkland House School