Youth unemployment in Scotland at a five-year high
THE number of young people in Scotland who have been out of work and claiming job seekers allowance for more than 12 months has increased by more than 1,100 per cent in the last five years, according to new figures.
The latest Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) labour market report showed that in March this year 5,210 Scots aged between 18 and 24 had been receiving the benefit for more than 12 months compared to 415 claimants in December 2007 – a 1155.4 per cent rise.
While every other part of the UK has witnessed significant increases, the rise is sharpest north of the Border. Over the same period, there has been an average increase in claimant numbers of 745 per cent in the UK, with 17,750 Britons in the age group receiving the benefit for a year or more last month, compared to 6,550 in December 2007.
The STUC report, published today, showed that as of March there were 43,685 Scots aged between 18 and 24 claiming job seekers allowance, 127 per cent higher than the total of 19,245 in December 2007.
The STUC released the figures – based on data from the Office of National Statistics – ahead of a debate on youth unemployment at its annual congress in Inverness.
Stephen Boyd, the STUC’s assistant secretary, said: “The increase in the number of people unemployed for more than a year demonstrates the scale of the problem and it’s a message that’s in danger of being lost.
“We will be left with the human, economic, and social consequences of this decade for some time.”
Mr Boyd suggested that while the Scottish Government has taken encouraging steps to address the issue, fundamental change would only come from a change in economic policies at Westminster.
He added: “I think the Scottish Government’s Modern Apprentice scheme is making inroads at the margin, but at the moment, the economy is suffering from a major lack of demand, unemployment is high, and growth is nowhere near the level it was pre-recession.
“The UK government has to change economic policies to make a difference, because while the Scottish Government’s scheme is welcome, it’s not going to address the root or the scale of the problems facing Scotland.”
Official figures published last week showed overall unemployment in Scotland – which includes people out of work and not eligible for benefits – had fallen from 231,000 to 219,000 in the three months to February.
Despite that, the report said the STUC was still “extremely concerned about the state of the Scottish Labour market,” highlighting rising levels of unemployment amongst women and “persistently high” youth unemployment.
Ken Macintosh, Scottish Labour’s shadow cabinet secretary for finance, employment, and sustainable growth, said: “This is a shocking figure, but a reminder that one of Labour’s great achievements was virtually eliminating long-term unemployment.
“The politics of austerity have failed. Behind every statistic, there is the tragedy of a young person unable to work and having their life chances thwarted.”
He added: “We know the Tories are cutting too hard and too fast, but the SNP needs to do more to stop another lost generation in Scotland.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “This should serve as a reminder of how hard both the Scottish and UK governments have to work to improve this.”