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UK-Scottish Government Jobs Support Needed for 70,000 at Risk Young Scots

The UK and Scottish Governments must work together to prevent as many as 70,000 young Scots falling into unemployment, a new report by Our Scottish Future declares today.  

Published a year on from the Scottish Government’s Young Persons Jobs Guarantee, the paper finds that ambitious plans by both governments to support 18-24 year olds into work are yet to have a major impact on the ground.

On the UK Government’s Kickstart programme – which was designed to create 250,000 paid work placements for young people across the UK – the paper finds that only 4,400 job starts have so far been created across Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s own Scottish Youth Guarantee – which was designed to ensure every 16-24 year-old was in work, education, training or volunteer work over the next two years – is pledging to create 24,000 ‘new and enhanced’ jobs and opportunities for young people but, as of June, had signed up only 45 employers to partner the scheme.

It welcomes the funding and action by both Governments but says poor implementation and a lack of coordination between the two is damaging their chances of success. 

Despite high numbers of vacancies, it is feared that young people are not getting into work because they lack the qualifications or skills to pick up available opportunities. 

The paper says the official figure of 41,000 unemployed under 25s in Scotland “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 50,000 unemployed young people across Scotland, with a further 10,000 economically inactive searching for work – bringing the total NEET (not in education, employment or training) to 60,000, with the potential to rise over 70,000 in the coming months.”   

It recommends that:   

  • Scottish Government should examine the feasibility of a Scottish Public Sector Guarantee for every under 25 year old without a job   
  • UK Government departments, Scottish Government and local authorities convene a joint taskforce to set out a shared plan of action   
  • Scottish Government and local authorities are given Kickstart funds directly to aid implementation   
  • Kickstart is extended to September 2022   
  • SMEs are given more incentives to hire young people on apprenticeships   
  • A long term overhaul of Scottish youth opportunities   

The paper is the first publication of the newly formed Our Scottish Future Economy Commission, chaired by Glasgow University’s Professor Ronnie MacDonald.   

Writing in the foreword to the paper, Professor MacDonald says: “As our report shows, various high profile Government policy initiatives – from Holyrood’s Youth Jobs Guarantee, to Westminster’s Kickstart programme – 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.” 

Existing data has already shown that young Scots are nearly twice as likely to have been furloughed over the last 15 months and are two and a half times as likely to work in sectors which have been hit hardest by the pandemic, such as hospitality and retail.

Today’s paper concludes:  “This political will is to be welcomed, as are the significant resources that have been allocated. However, the roll-out of job support programmes has not made sufficient inroads to tackle the scale of the crisis we face in Scotland. It is due to poorly designed policies, a lack of consultation with business and enterprise, administrative bureaucracy driving delays, and – above all – the absence of genuine coordination between UK and Scottish government.”

Our Scottish Future is a campaign set up to promote greater cooperation across the United Kingdom. It has set up four Commissions on the economy, the environment, poverty and healthcare to highlight the need for greater cooperation and to make recommendations on how to deliver a more coordinated approach.   

1. Figures on the UK Government’s KickStart programme are here: 

Written questions and answers – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament 

2. This week’s Programme for Government committed to “continue to invest” in the Young Person’s Guarantee and aims to provide 24,000 “new and enhanced jobs, skills and training opportunities.” 

In response to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre, the Scottish Government has stated that “As of 1 June, there were 45 employers signed up to the Young Person’s Guarantee and we are continuing to engage with employers to encourage further sign up.” 

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