The analysis by Our Scottish Future claims that schemes set up by the UK and Scottish governments to support 18 to 24-year-olds into work are yet to have a major impact and warns of a youth unemployment crisis.
The report claims the UK Government’s Kickstart programme, which was designed to create 250,000 paid work placements for young people across the UK, has only created 4,400 job starts so far in Scotland – though the government states the number is 5,600.
Meanwhile the Scottish Government’s Scottish Young Person's Guarantee – launched last year and designed to ensure every 16-24-year-old was in work, education, training or volunteer work over the next two years as well as to create 24,000 jobs and opportunities – had, by June, only signed up 45 employers to partner the scheme.
While the report welcomes the funding and action by both governments – the Scottish Government’s £60 million scheme is to receive a further £70m according to the latest Programme for Government – it says “a lack of co-ordination” between the two is damaging their chances of success.
The paper says the official Labour Force Survey figure of 32,000 unemployed under-25s in Scotland also “significantly underplays the true scale of Scotland’s youth unemployment crisis” and warns the number will increase once furlough ends.
It argues: “In reality, we face perhaps a minimum of 42,000 unemployed young people across Scotland, up to a further 10,000 more classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training), with the potential for this to rise over 70,000 total in the coming months.”
The report recommends the Scottish Government examine the feasibility of a Scottish Public Sector Guarantee for every under-25-year-old without a job and that UK government departments, Scottish Government and local authorities convene a joint taskforce to set out a shared plan of action.
In the paper Glasgow University’s Professor Ronnie MacDonald, said: “Various high-profile government policy initiatives are not yet having the impact that was initially hoped for, nor acting with the urgency the crisis requires.
"The governments in London and Edinburgh must now come together to plan an integrated approach so that young people are not left behind once again.
“Our report sets out recommendations on how to do so – centred around a genuine Youth Jobs Guarantee which does what it says: guarantees that every young person who wants to work gets to work this autumn. We also call for reform of longer-term employment support.”
Scotland’s minister for Youth Employment Jamie Hepburn said the government was “determined to do everything we can” to support young people.
He added: “Latest figures show the proportion of young people participating in education, training or employment, is at a record high. However, it is crucial we continue to build on this, by providing a range of opportunities through our Young Person’s Guarantee.”
He said the government was also working with councils, the third sector and businesses to support the delivery of Kickstart and with the DWP “to understand the anticipated impact of the scheme’s closure.”
A UK Government spokesperson said it was “investing directly in Scotland’s communities” through its Plan for Jobs, the £21.7m JETS programme “which has helped over 4,000 Scots who lost jobs in the pandemic get back on the road to work.”
He added more than 5,600 young people have started Kickstart jobs in Scotland.