|Printable version||E-mail this to a friend|
Extra support for school leavers
Vulnerable school leavers are to get one-on-one help to find the right employment, training or education opportunity.
Activity Agreements - signed between a young person and an advisor to undertake a programme of learning and support to help them become ready for further study or work - are to be rolled out throughout Scotland.
It follows a successful pilot over the past two years that has seen hundreds of vulnerable young people - such as those with persistent truancy or low attainment problems - turn their lives around and return to learning or enter the world of work.
Announcing a £4 million investment to support roll-out of the scheme at the Youthlink national conference, Skills Minister Angela Constance said:
"The economic crisis and recession of the past two years impact on all of us, but they have had a particularly damaging effect on our young people. Today's announcement continues this Government's long standing commitment to providing more choices and more chances to those who leave school as early as they can.
"Activity Agreements have been proven to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable young people by offering a tailored package of learning and support, which responds to an individual's needs and interests. More than 1400 young people have taken part in the pilots, undertaking a tremendous variety of activities, from sports to cultural activity, from self-confidence to work tasters.
"Rolling out Activity Agreements is the best way of engaging and supporting our most vulnerable young people through this difficult transition. Youth workers have a key role to play in this and I am grateful for the crucial support of Youthlink throughout the pilots.
"But activity agreements are just one of many Scottish Government measures that are ensuring all young people get the support they need - for as long as they need it - to get into sustainable employment."
Jim Sweeney, Chief Executive of YouthLink Scotland, added:
"We have been delighted to work with the government over the past year in helping support the 16 plus pilot initiative and are happy to continue our involvement.
"We look forward to Youth Work organisations and services in all 32 local council areas playing a significant role in helping our young people achieve positive destinations in partnership with other stakeholders."
Today's announcement follows yesterday's labour market statistics which showed that Scotland's youth unemployment rate remains lower than the UK average. Overall, Scotland's unemployment rate fell by 0.6 percentage points to 8.1 per cent during the three months to January 2011. In comparison, the UK unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 8.0 per cent during the same period.
Starting in June 2009, the Scottish Government piloted Activity Agreements in ten local authority areas - Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire. The pilots involved local authorities and their partners improving the range of opportunities available to young people - mainly 16 and 17-year-olds - through community and third sector organisations; improving the support, advice and guidance that vulnerable young people could access and offered a financial incentive to young people to put this type of learning on an equal basis with school or college.
Other measures in this year's budget to tackle youth unemployment include:
- Investment of a further £11.5 million to create 25,000 modern apprenticeship places - a record high for Scotland
- 7,000 flexible training opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) - 2,000 more than originally planned in the draft Budget
- Protecting the total number of core university places and invest £8 million for an extra 1,200 college places
- Investment of an additional £15 million across 2010-11 and 2011-12 in funding for college bursaries
- Maintaining the educational grants for pupils and college students most in need (Educational Maintenance Allowances (EMAs)) which were cut south of the border
- £10m to deliver the Community Jobs Scotland programme in partnership with the Third Sector, providing new support for 2,000 unemployed people across Scotland
- Additional investment of £5m to support the extension of the Employer Recruitment Incentive to deliver up to 5,000 new jobs for individuals aged 18+, who have been unemployed for six months or more and who are participating in the Training for Work programme.
The Scottish Government's innovative Engage for Education site allows users to read blogs from Ministers, post comments and get involved in workshops on issues relating to education.