A Scottish Government minister is writing to more than 30,000 firms and professional bodies in a bid to boost the number of young people in work.
Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance is urging bosses across the country to “think about what they can do to help unlock the potential of our young people”.
Almost one in five (19.1%) people aged 16 to 24 were out of work in Scotland in the period November 2013 to January 2014, official figures show.
Ms Constance was speaking as she visited supermarket giant Sainsbury’s Longstone store in Edinburgh, where the firm recruited 19 workers from local schools and has also helped 200 students from nine schools with interview skills and CV writing.
She said: “The latest labour market statistics, while painting a continually improving picture for the wider economy, were clear evidence that we need to maintain our focus on youth unemployment in Scotland.
“We are not alone in this regard both within the UK and Europe, but behind every statistic is a young woman or man out of work and this Government is determined to do more.”
While she said there had been “some very encouraging signs over the last 18 months”, she added that with business confidence improving she wants “more young people finding the jobs that allow them to make a full contribution to our economy”.
Ms Constance continued: “In recent months I have been asking employers to make young people their business, and levels of engagement and interest from the companies I have spoken to has been very high. Today I want to tell businesses across Scotland that hiring a young employee not only makes good business sense, but is very easy to do.
“The letter I am sending out today tells employers about the help they can get and the value young people can bring to their business. While Scotland’s economic recovery continues, Scotland has a talented pool of enthusiastic young people with so much to offer that can help businesses grow, and today I would urge employers who can to use the help available and make an offer of work to a young person.”
Jacki Connor, retail and logistics HR director with Sainsbury’s, said young people made a “fantastic contribution” to the company, with more than a third of staff in Scotland under the age of 25.
She added: “Retail is an exciting, fast-paced career choice and we are committed to helping young people develop long, varied and successful careers.”
Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Investing in young people has proven to positively contribute to the growth of small and medium sized businesses.
“The dynamism and confidence of Scotland’s young people brings innovation and entrepreneurial flair to a business. Let’s make young people our business and enable Scottish businesses to grow, prosper and compete globally.”