By a Newsnet reporter
SNP MSP Adam Ingram has welcomed the launch of the Scottish Government’s new Youth Employment Strategy, Scotland’s ninth National Economic Forum, held today in Edinburgh.
The draft strategy, which consolidates and builds on the work already being done by the Scottish Government to create jobs and help young people into work, was launched by First Minister Alex Salmond and the UK’s first dedicated Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance, who both took part in a face-to-face with young workers.
Mr Ingram, the MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley and a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee, said:
“The SNP government has already it absolutely clear that ensuring that our young people have hope for the future is at the top of their policy agenda and that has been underlined by the joint presence of the First Minister and the Youth Employment Minister today.
“There is no doubt that young people entering the job market in Scotland have been hit by the economic crisis, but the SNP government is committed to using every power at its disposal to ensure that there is no lost generation created here.
Mr Ingram described the Youth Employment Strategy as a “comprehensive, cohesive approach” that he said would allow the creation of as many jobs for young people as possible, he also highlighted the 46,000 training places and 25,000 apprenticeships being created every year by the SNP.
He added: “I particularly welcome the proposal to provide intensive support and, where necessary, financial assistance for the most disadvantaged and potentially disengaged young people. This is a commitment which demonstrated that we are determined to ensure that no young person, no matter what disadvantaged they face, is left behind.”
Angela Constance who will be driving the initiative said it was vital to ensure that government influence was used across all sectors to ensure opportunities were created for young people. Ms Constance also highlighted the importance of engaging with young people, the education sector and the business community, saying “we need an all-government all-Scotland approach”.
Responding, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Youth Employment, Kezia Dugdale MSP, said:
“Scotland is in the grips of a national youth unemployment crisis and with no less than eight government Ministers in attendance it is clear the SNP government are keen to show they are taking this problem seriously. Unfortunately, warm words don’t create jobs. The SNP must now walk the walk, as their efforts will ultimately be judged by Scotland’s young people on whether it delivers the jobs and opportunities they so desperately need.
“Our colleges play a key role in skilling-up our young people so they are ready to work. The SNP government must accept that its 20% cuts to Scotland’s colleges are counter intuitive to efforts to tackle youth unemployment.
“Angela Constance has a budget of £30 million to tackle youth unemployment, but it will be wasted if it is spent as pocket money press releases introducing one-off new projects. We need to focus our energies on what works and invest in it.”
The Scottish Government’s draft Youth Employment Strategy can be read at http://www.employabilityinscotland.com/draftyouthemploymentstrategy.aspx