Careers agency cuts damaging youngsters’ employment chances, warns Unison

Many pupils are being frozen out completely. Picture (posed by models): Neil Hanna
Many pupils are being frozen out completely. Picture (posed by models): Neil Hanna
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SWINGEING cuts at Scotland’s national careers agency is damaging the service it provides to youngsters seeking their first job and leaves many frozen out completely, union leaders have warned.

• 200 jobs at Skills Development Scotland have been replaced with web-based and telephone services with office hours and and staff cut

• Around 100,000 school leavers are offered careers advice through MY World of Work website

• Drop-in facilities are closing, leaving children with a lack of face-to-face advice opportunities

Skills Development Scotland has shifted much of its advice to youngsters online, but the “closure of offices and staff cuts” are taking their toll at a time of soaring youth unemployment, Unison Scotland has warned in a submission to MSPs.

“Our members are concerned changes are a response to budget cuts rather than to drive improvement in the service,” the union states.

“Crucial face to face interventions are being replaced by web based and telephone services.”

As many as 200 jobs have gone at SDS, the union says, while offices are being shut or hours reduced.

About 100,000 older school pupils are initially now offered careers advice through the MY World of Work website.

“We now have a largely website-only service for the majority of young people,” the submission adds, with many youngsters not even registered.

“Drop-in facilities for face to face advice and guidance across the country are now being closed. This is having a real impact on the quality of service we provide.”

The changes have also taken their toll on morale among advisors, according to the most recent staff survey.

“Staff feel deskilled and that their professional judgement is no longer required,” it adds.

Among the responses to the survey, were: “It has been a completely dictatorial creation of a new service delivery model which has been steamrollered into place.”

Labour’s skills spokesman Neil Findlay branded the plans “short-sighted.”

“The Scottish Government is cutting support for careers advice to young Scots at a time of rising youth unemployment,” he said

“About one-third of Scottish households do not have a computer; are the Scottish Government just going to leave the children in these households behind?

“The fact that Skills Development Scotland has been axing trained careers advisors under a voluntary severance programme during a time when we need to be up-skilling our young people is truly shocking.

“Online guidance is no substitute for face-to-face guidance. We need to help our young people to ensure they make the right career choices, the government’s strategy on careers is wrong.”