Scotland Unemployment: ‘Government must act to stop 70,000 young Scots becoming jobless’, says think tank

The UK and Scottish Governments must develop a plan to stop as many as 70,000 young people in Scotland becoming unemployed, a think tank has said.

A think tank has said that around 70,000 young Scots could become jobless if the Government does not act (Photo: Lisa Ferguson).

A report by Our Scottish Future, which was set up by former prime minister Gordon Brown, welcomed work being done by both Governments but said a lack of co-ordination between the two was hampering the effectiveness of their schemes.

The 12-page report released on Thursday, said the current labour force figures – which claim 25,000 young people are unemployed – underestimates the scale of the problem, which will get worse after the end of the furlough scheme.

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“In reality, we face perhaps a minimum of 42,000 unemployed young people across Scotland, up to a further 10,000 more classified as Neet (not in education, employment or training), with the potential for this to rise over 70,000 total in the coming months,” it said.

The think tank recommends that a task force, including representatives of the UK and Scottish Governments and local councils, should be convened to tackle the issue, along with more incentives given to smaller businesses to take on apprenticeships.

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It also urges the Scottish Government to assess the feasibility of a “public sector guarantee” for those under 25.

A similar policy was touted in the Scottish Labour manifesto ahead of this year’s election.

The Scottish Government last year created the Young Person’s Guarantee, which would entitle people between 16 and 24 a job if they wanted it.

However, according to the report, only 45 companies have signed up.

While the UK Government’s Kickstart initiative, which funded jobs for people of the same age who are on benefits, has only benefited 4,400 people north of the border, as of July 27 this year.

A UK Government spokesman said: “The UK Government is investing directly in Scotland’s communities, levelling up and creating opportunities for all through our Plan for Jobs, including via the Jets programme which, with £21.7 million in dedicated funding for Scotland, has already helped over 4,000 Scots who lost jobs in the pandemic get back on the road to work.

“The Kickstart Scheme is also delivering vital jobs to help young people start their careers and more than 5,600 young people have started Kickstart jobs in Scotland.

“Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament has significant welfare powers and can top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments, and create entirely new benefits altogether.”

Jamie Hepburn, Scotland’s youth employment minister, said: “Latest figures show the proportion of young people participating in education, training or employment, is at a record high. However, it is crucial we continue to build on this, by providing a range of opportunities through our Young Person’s Guarantee.

“The guarantee looks to ensure every person aged between 16 and 24 will have the opportunity to study; take up an apprenticeship, job or work experience; or participate in formal volunteering.

“Implementing the guarantee is a collective endeavour involving an implementation group, led by Sandy Begbie, made up of partners from the public sector including local authorities and Department for Work and Pensions, third sector, and private sector.

“We continue to work with local authorities, the third sector and businesses to support the delivery of Kickstart and are working with DWP to understand the anticipated impact of the Scheme’s closure on young people.”

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