Angela Constance: We must unite to get young people into work
YOUTH employment has been fiercely debated in recent weeks. I am under no illusion that many of our young people are struggling, as they do in every period of economic difficulty, due to a lack of job opportunities. We need to offer our young people hope.
We are not alone. Levels of youth unemployment around the globe are high. However, despite not having the job-creating powers that an independent Scotland would have, I am determined to tackle the issue head on.
Since my appointment, I have funded a number of valuable projects around the country aimed at improving employability, joining up colleges with businesses and maximising the ability of the voluntary sector to open job prospects. On top of my initial £30 million budget, we are now considering how to spend a further £25m of European Structural Funds with further funding to follow. This year we exceeded our record target of 25,000 modern apprenticeships (MAs). We want to fund at least that many opportunities in every year of this parliament – and will work with employers to achieve this.
But this is not just about numbers and figures; it’s simply about ensuring our young people have the right skills to get into work.
We want our young people to see Scotland as the best possible place in the world to start their working lives.
Taking up an MA means that person becomes employed and can gain better skills, a recognised qualification and develop their confidence in the workplace. Completion of an MA is a valuable entry on any young person’s CV and can really kick off their career. Alongside their employers who work with the government to invest in MAs, they deserve a great deal more respect than they currently receive.
I am proud to be a part of fostering a new generation of talented and capable young Scots but to do so we need to pull together as a nation. We need an all-government, all-Scotland approach and the public, private and third sectors must be united in ensuring our young people are fully supported and can maximise their future job prospects.
• Angela Constance is youth employment minister.
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