Edinburgh school leavers left lagging behind

CITY school leavers continue to fall behind the national average in terms of numbers going into work, training or further education, new figures have revealed.

Although the Scottish Government welcomed new statistics from Skills Development Scotland which showed that a record 89.9 per cent of school leavers across the country were going into “positive destinations” upon leaving school, concerns have been raised about the situation in Edinburgh.

Worrying figures show school leavers going into further education (24.7 per cent), training (4.3 per cent) and employment (17.7 per cent) in the Capital are behind the Scottish averages of 26.8 per cent, 4.6 per cent and 19.8 per cent respectively for 2011-12.

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This was a decrease on 2010-11, when 25.7 per cent of school leavers went into further education, 5.3 per cent opted for training and 18.7 per cent secured employment in the Capital.

Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said: “Any improvement of opportunities for young people in Edinburgh is to be welcomed, and this is in no small part thanks to the work of Edinburgh council and its Guarantee programme.

“However, I’m still concerned that the Youth Employment Minister continues to be complacent over the figures. Thanks to local intervention, some of these are heading in the right direction, but the figures remain too high and beg the question as to why Edinburgh is falling behind.”

Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, pointed out that the Edinburgh Guarantee – which aims to give paid internships to the 300-400 school leavers who would otherwise go straight into unemployment each year – has helped more than 1000 young people find work or trainee positions since it was set up.

He said: “Edinburgh’s performance is continually moving in the right direction and we have the highest number of school leavers going into positive destinations than we have had for the past ten years.

“We are pleased that despite the difficult times, the number of young people finding work or further education is up.

“However, we are not without our challenges and we aim to improve prospects for all our young people. We have invested a further £1 million into the Edinburgh Guarantee for the coming year and will work hard to tackle inequality and support partner organisations such as LEAPS [Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools] in the good work they do in relation to further education.”