New minister for ‘Neets’ to be appointed at Holyrood
THE Scottish Government is to appoint a dedicated minister for youth employment in an effort to tackle the rising number of young people who are out of work.
First Minister Alex Salmond announced the move yesterday after Labour claimed Scotland was in the midst of a “national crisis” with 100,000 young people aged 16 to 24 unemployed.
The ministerial post was a recommendation of a report by the Smith group of industrialists, including Lord Smith, Sir Tom Hunter and Jim McColl. Their report last week called for drastic action to save Scotland’s “lost generation”.
Mr Salmond said the new minister would be backed by £30 million funding.
The First Minister said: “The £30m announced today will be invested in helping Scotland’s young people into training, work or education to secure a stronger workforce for the future.
“I have asked the finance secretary and education secretary to begin discussions with local authorities, the third sector, college sector and private sector employers as to how this funding can be best used to ensure a reduction in youth unemployment across the country.
“The Scottish Government has listened to views from across the chamber and agrees with many of the Smith group’s recommendations and will establish a dedicated ministerial portfolio with a priority to promote skills and employment for young people.”
The Smith group argued for such a post to be established in its report, which said youth unemployment was already a problem before the banking crisis in 2008 and would “remain a serious national issue” for some time.
Lord Smith, who led the group, said he was “absolutely delighted” the new ministerial position was being created.
He added: “I also strongly welcome that a further £30m in funding will be committed to helping Scotland’s young people into training, work or education to secure a stronger workforce for the future.”
Labour leader Iain Gray welcomed the announcement, saying that Mr Salmond seemed to have “finally got the point” on the issue.
“Youth unemployment has doubled under the SNP since 2007 and there are now over 100,000 young Scots out of work, and the rate is the highest in the UK,” he added.
“The SNP have to realise that it is time for an emergency response.”
During the debate he said that the 100,000 16- to 24-year-olds out of work was the “highest figure ever recorded” for this age group.
He added: “This is a national crisis – a crisis for Scotland – because of the profound threat it poses to the future prosperity, future equality and future fairness of our society.”
Conservative MSP Liz Smith added: “There can be no doubt whatsoever that rising unemployment is a very serious issue. We hear that no fewer than 100,000 young people are unemployed in Scotland, so the stakes are high.”
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Monday 20 May 2013
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