Nicola Sturgeon admits ‘much more to do’ as FM

Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs. The First Minister marks 100 days in post today. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs. The First Minister marks 100 days in post today. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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NICOLA Sturgeon marked her 100th day as Scotland’s First Minister with a pledge to “haul down the ­barriers” in male-dominated industries, as she unveiled a campaign aimed at promoting modern apprenticeships for women.

Ms Sturgeon said she was proud of her achievements in office but admitted there was “much more to do” as yesterday she reached the milestone in her role as Scotland’s first ever woman First Minister.

She made the remarks at the launch of the “You Work, You Learn, You Earn” campaign, aimed at encouraging young women to train for roles ­traditionally regarded as male- dominated, as part of the government’s modern apprenticeships scheme.

Ms Sturgeon said some of her key achievements included appointing a cabinet with more women ministers, who now hold 40 per cent of ministerial roles for the first time.

She also highlighted SNP government policies such as a bill to stop Scots being pursued for outstanding debts from the controversial poll tax more than 20 years ago, the launch of a consultation on land reform and agreeing the delivery of votes for 16- and 17-year-olds in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am very proud of the work myself and my team have done so far – but I am also clear that we have much more to do.”

“Everything I have learned over the first 100 days has made me more determined than ever to make Scotland a better, fairer, more prosperous place for us all to live and work.”

Nicola Sturgeon

However, the First Minister said her government now wanted to end “preconceived notions” about career options open to women, as she launched the apprenticeships yesterday during a visit to pharmaceutical company ­GlaxoSmithKline in Irvine, North Ayrshire.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government wanted to break down barriers in sectors such as science and engineering by encouraging more women to enter such professions.

She said: “Economic growth is crucial to any country and in Scotland we want to see growth that is balanced and involves everyone, which is why we want more women to enter the ­labour market. One way of stimulating that growth is by addressing the gender gap in modern apprenticeships. For too long, certain industries have been dominated by men, but we want to haul down the barriers, real and perceived, that have restricted women from entering these sectors.”

The Scottish Government said 41 per cent of the modern apprenticeship starts last year were by women and that the new campaign, delivered by Skills Development Scotland, will use three female role models to inspire others to follow this career path. Ms Sturgeon added: “It is important that our young people see the full range of options available to them.

“I want young women to be inspired to be mechanics, scientists or look at engineering as an option. This campaign will focus on removing those preconceived notions and will encourage young women to follow a career path which ­excites them.”

But Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy said the First Minister’s report card would read “must do better, particularly on the NHS”.

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