Scottish Government needs more powers to tackle youth unemployment says STUC spokesperson


By G.A.Ponsonby
A member of the STUC’s Youth Committee has called on the UK Government to hand over more powers to the Scottish Parliament in order to help tackle youth unemployment.
Georgina Wardrop, who today led a debate on youth unemployment at the STUC’s conference in Inverness, said she believed the Scottish Government was doing all it could to help tackle the problem but that it needed more powers.

Ms Wardrop, a former chair of the STUC’s Youth Committee, called for more to be done in order to help young people get into work.

The graduate, who has a first class honours degree, also called on the Scottish Government to address concerns over the quality of some apprenticeship schemes and highlighted the issue of ‘gender segregation’ which she said was leading to young women opting for lower paid vocations such as hairdressing, care and hospitality.

In her speech she said: “I do not appear on any government statistics for long term unemployment because I have managed from time to time to find short term employment, insecure and part-time.

“I am well qualified, I am not lazy and I have tried, and tried again, to secure full-time employment.

“It is time that government at all levels takes meaningful action to provide hope and avoid another lost generation.”

According to figures calculated by the Scottish Trade Union’s Congress, the number of young Scots claiming jobseeker’s allowance for over a year had increased from 415 in 2007 to 5,210 in 2012, a rise of over 1000 per cent.

The total claiming jobseekers allowance had risen from 19,245 to 43,685 over the same period – up almost 130 per cent.

Interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland, the young graduate attacked the UK coalition Government’s economic strategy and said:

“There needs to be more meaningful action by the UK Government and I do believe that nothing less than a wholesale revisit of its economic strategy is required, because what’s happening just now is clearly not working for us.”

However pressed on whether the Scottish Government could do more she replied: “I just do feel that the Scottish Government are limited in their powers right now.

“Obviously we are having a huge recession within the UK and it needs to come from the UK Government.

“I just don’t see how the Scottish Government with the resources they’ve got can actually sort this problem out.”

Ms Wardrop added: “I don’t think this is something that is the blame of the Scottish Government in particular … it is something that is more wholesale, more UK wide.”

A Scottish government spokesman said it was “committed to improving the employability of all Scotland’s young people and has guaranteed every 16-19-year-old, who doesn’t already have one, a place in education or training through Opportunities for All.”

He added: “This comes on top of confirmation by the first minister that we have delivered a record 25,000 Modern Apprentice opportunities this year.

“We have already confirmed that Scottish government funding will support around 1,000 disadvantaged young people into jobs, provide opportunities for up to 2,500 young people linked to major events as well as targeting a share in areas with particular need.

“We continue to work with employers, local authorities and third sector partners to secure the best opportunities for all our young people.”

Official figures show Scotland’s economy is currently outperforming that of the UK in terms of those in work.  Scotland also currently has an unemployment rate of 8.1% against a UK wide figure of 8.3%.

In the last quarter Scotland accounted for one third of all of the newly created UK jobs for the period.

Hear the full interview (1 hr 33 mins):