Youth jobless project ‘disappointed’ as SNP ministers snub reception

A RECEPTION being held this week to update supporters of a scheme to tackle youth unemployment has failed to attract the interest of a single government minister.

The Recruitwork project, which matches businesses with out-of-work youngsters, is backed by property and retail tycoon Sir Tom Hunter and the Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust.

But not one Scottish Government minister has accepted an invitation to attend Tuesday’s event, despite youth unemployment being high on the political agenda and being the last major topic debated in parliament before MSPs adjourned for the Christmas break. A report on its progress will be unveiled to 100 business leaders, young entrepreneurs, human resources professionals and other interested parties at the Edinburgh offices of law firm Morton Fraser. Hunter will speak at the event.

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Among others invited were enterprise minister Fergus Ewing, who has named youth unemployment as a particular concern, and Angela Constance who was appointed minister for youth employment only last week.

Her role was created as a result of lobbying by leading business and community figures following publication of an official report on the jobs crisis.

Currently there are 100,000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in Scotland, a situation described by Labour as a “national crisis”. Ewing made the issue a key part of his first speech to a business audience when he addressed the Scottish Business in the Community dinner in Edinburgh in June.

Recruitwork chief executive Niall Grant, who launched the initiative after attending the Hunter Leadership Programme, said he was disappointed at the lack of government interest. “We have invited several ministers but we have been told they are either busy or unavailable,” he said.

“We hope someone will attend. This is an opportunity to meet all those who are involved in tackling this issue in one place.”

In 2010 Grant won the Young Scot of the Year Award for Enterprise. He launched Recruitwork across the UK in September this year with the intention of “empowering businesses to connect directly with a younger generation.”

He said smaller firms were quite keen on the service but there was still a resistance among bigger firms to take it up.

Recruitwork is chaired by experienced head hunter Ewan Hunter who runs HunterSearch, an executive search business based in Edinburgh.