Secure employment for young people gives them a firm foundation on which to build their lives. This is not simply a question of personal finances, there are clear benefits to health for individuals and a reduction in inter-generational social problems.
The cost to our society of not having employment opportunities for young people are all too familiar. The impact of the economic downturn of 2008 is being felt the world over and its effects are not unique to Scotland. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has highlighted that 75 million young people worldwide, including one in five young Europeans, are out of work and the ILO does not anticipate turnaround within the short-term.
On 20 December 2011, President Barroso urged European Union member states to develop youth jobs plans; increase the number of apprenticeships and traineeships; guarantee a job, education or training for young people leaving school; and re-direct Structural Funds to give priority to youth unemployment. This is the global context.
Increasing youth employment in the current economic climate is undoubtedly a complex challenge that has no single solution and will require a range of different approaches to address.
The Scottish Government is committed to doing everything in its power to boost youth employment. This strategy describes how we are supporting young people through an all-Government all-Scotland approach, where all those who can make a contribution across Scottish society are encouraged to do so.
We have put in place a range of initiatives, including providing almost 300,000 training opportunities since 2007 and we have committed to providing 125,000 new Modern Apprenticeships in the lifetime of this Parliament. This annual level of 25,000 is a record high.
By working together across government, across parliament and across Scotland we can help Scotland’s young people into work and ensure they have the opportunities that we all believe they firmly deserve.
The challenge that this strategy seeks to address is to provide, coordinate and support as many youth opportunities as we can to help more of Scotland’s young people into the workplace. Our approach to this challenge is designed to make a positive difference for young people in the short, medium and long term.
This strategy is a call to action, a catalyst for change, a stimulus for collaborative, innovative responses to supporting young people into employment. It is built upon three strategic themes –
• Adopting an all-Government, all-Scotland approach to supporting youth employment;
• Enhancing support for young people; and
• Engaging with employers.