The SNP and Labour have pledged to expand the job opportunities for young people if elected to office at the Scottish elections in May this year.
The SNP pledge follows the announcement in last week’s budget of a guarantee of 25,000 apprenticeship places each year of the next four years. The party have also announced an expanded programme to help even more young people into work with 25,000 training places under their £40 million Youth Employment Scotland (YES) proposals.
The £40 million Youth Employment Scotland package was announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney and Skills Minister Angela Constance as they met apprentices with the Edinburgh Construction Group at their workshop in Leith.
Youth Employment Scotland includes:
• 25,000 apprenticeship places a year – for the next four years
• £20 million of extra investment in training for work places – ensuring 25,000 places for young people struggling to get into work
• Record support for bursaries by continuing the £10 million of additional funding this coming year to provide 50,000 bursaries a year for the next four years
Mr Swinney insisted a start in life was essential for young people and promised to make youth employment a key priority to ensure that Scotland didn’t endure another ‘lost generation’.
Mr Swinney said: “Ensuring our young people have the jobs and opportunities they need to get started in life is essential.
“88,000 young people are struggling to find work as a result of the recession. The SNP in Government has taken action by increasing apprenticeships and expanding college places to help our young people. At the coming election we will do more.
“Youth Employment Scotland will see a re-elected SNP government extend our policy of 25,000 apprenticeships a year from next year to the next four years. We will also expand training places that get young people into work with a £20 million investment to provide 25,000 training for work places in each of the next four years. These places will give more young people the chance to learn a trade, to pick up skills and to prevent today’s young people another lost generation
“As a Scottish Government working for Scotland getting Scotland’s young people into work is a key priority for the SNP.”
SNP MSP Angela Constance, Minister for Skills and Further Education who joined Mr Swinney to meet the young apprentices added: “Today we are not only extending our support for apprenticeships to a full four years we are introducing new training places and I can confirm we will guarantee the additional funding for bursaries not just for next year but for the full four year parliament.”
“I want to see young people saying YES to job opportunities and employers finding a workforce they can say YES too.
“The SNP will deliver practical on the job training for our young people not empty promises.
“With a record 20,000 apprenticeship places last year in everything from construction to retail to life sciences and renewable energy, more support for college students than ever before and investment in training programmes that support young people into work the SNP is a government working for Scotland to get Scotland out to work.”
Labour’s Scottish Future Jobs Fund
Meanwhile Labour’s finance spokesman at Holyrood Andy Kerr has pledged support for 10,000 placements for young people unemployed for six months or more. Mr Kerr promised that, if Labour won in May, a Scottish Future Jobs Fund would provide a “partnership” with Scottish businesses and the scheme would be open to any Scottish business prepared to take on a young person.
Mr Kerr said that the first vacancies will be advertised within 100 days of Labour taking office.
Mr Kerr said: “I want a partnership with Scottish business to help create 10,000 jobs and save a generation of young people from being thrown on the scrapheap. We cannot allow the mistakes of the 1980s to be repeated.
“Young people have been the biggest victims of the recession and the number of 18 to 24 years old who have been unemployed for over six months has more than doubled in the last two years.
“That is why Labour will make our efforts to tackle youth unemployment the defining feature of the election campaign. We will cut through red tape and give small businesses more support to take on youngsters.
“The first vacancies from the Scottish Future Jobs Fund will be advertised within 100 days of a Labour government taking power in Scotland and my pledge is that it will also be open to business.”