European Commission funding to help tackle youth unemployment in Scotland needs careful consideration before being spent and should be focused on employability skills, recruiters say.
The £60m in funding, from the commission’s Youth Employment Initiative and announced on Sunday, will be split between the Scottish Funding Council and 13 local authorities in South-West Scotland, where youth unemployment is highest.
Glasgow-based Alan MacKenzie, finance director at medical recruiter H1 Healthcare but voicing his own opinions, told Recruiter there “appears to be broad consensus that inadequate training or the lack of training in general is one of the main reasons why young people struggle in their search for employment”.
He said apprenticeships “no doubt represent the best solution” as they both provide a pathway into employment and give apprentices appropriate and relevant skills.
The funding could also be used to encourage young people to stay in education and give access to non-academic, practical skills training with input from local employers who could also be financially incentivised to create apprenticeships, he added.
Simone Lockhart, managing director – Scotland for recruiter Search Consultancy, said early access “to experiences of the pathways to employment” was important so young people and their families can make informed decisions.
Lockhart is also chairman of the Glasgow branch of Career Ready, which works with education providers and employers to get students employment ready.
Michelle Minnikin, the new recruitment manager – strategy at software development consultancy Scott Logic, which has a Scottish base, agreed. She told Recruiter: “It’s important money isn’t simply thrown at the problem without a thorough strategy behind it.
“Schemes such as this should aim to ensure young people don’t lose confidence and are able to maintain up-to-date interpersonal skills that are so crucial to employment at every level.”
She added longer-term success could be guaranteed if local businesses are consulted to ensure the young people are being given appropriate routes into employment.
Shan Saba, business development director at Scottish recruiter Brightwork, says his firm has consistently encountered problems with labour shortages at the same time as high unemployment.
“Private sector employers must embrace these schemes and work with all the public bodies in order to give young people a chance to build a skill base and work ethic and not be solely focused on short term returns,” he added.
In welcoming the investment, Scottish cabinet secretary for fair work, skills and training Roseanna Cunningham said in a statement the overall youth unemployment level fell to its lowest September-November figures since 2006, according to recently released figures.
“However, we will not be complacent or lose sight of the fact that, just a few years ago, the global financial crisis saw youth unemployment in South-West Scotland rise to over 25%, an unacceptable level.”
A Scottish parliament spokesperson told Recruiter the money would be available from April.
The Scottish Funding Council and the 13 local authorities have until December 2018 to spend the money.
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