‘Help for young people must be a top priority’

THE news that the number of young people in Edinburgh who have been out of work for more than 12 months has quadrupled in the past year is deeply concerning.

Behind the bald statistics of long-term youth unemployment are young men and women being left out in the cold, their hopes dashed, their futures uncertain and at risk of becoming decoupled from the rest of society.

There is little sign that the national and international economic situaton is going to improve any time soon, but at local level the city council is involved in initiatives which are helping young people into jobs.

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Under the Edinburgh Guarantee, the council is committed to offering every pupil leaving school the opportunity to attend college, enter an apprenticeship or secure a job. These initiatives can change lives for the better and are having impressive results.

Practical grassroots help to give young people experience of the workplace and equip them with the skills they need to secure and hold down a job has to be a top priority.

Edinburgh’s troubled tram project may be the issue that dominates the headlines and the hot topic for debate in the Capital, but the council’s efforts to give the city’s young people a better future is far more important.

Airport best by bus

The rise in the number of passengers using public transport to get to the airport is to be welcomed and – you would hope – will only increase further when the tram finally begins operation.

This is good whichever way you look at it as it frees up congested roads, cuts delays for the rest of us and is obviously better for the environment.

But what about those who don’t have the option of gliding into Turnhouse while checking their e-mail for free on one of the admittedly impressive new airport buses?

Edinburgh Airport is now the busiest in Scotland and serves passengers around the country, many of whom only have the option of travelling by car. As it continues to expand, those who either have to or prefer to take their own transport must be catered for – and not met with punitive charges when they get there. The controversial “kiss and fly” tax may well have had an impact on some of today’s figures.

But that must not be taken as a green light to fleece motorists further. People should be encouraged on to public transport because it is a better option, not just because it’s cheaper.