Over the past eleven years we’ve taken action to help young people get into work. We have met our target to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent, four years ahead of schedule.
But there’s much still to do to ensure young people can find good, well paid, work.
Here’s how we’re doing that.
A guarantee of work, learning or training
We have an explicit commitment to a place in learning or training for every 16 to 19 year old who is not currently in employment, education or training.
Since the SNP came to office over 230,000 young people have had the opportunity to undertake a Modern Apprenticeship – earning a wage, gaining new skills and recognised qualifications.
And we are on track to achieve our ambition to deliver 30,000 new apprenticeship starts by 2020.
Maintaining training and support
We will maintain at least 116,000 full-time equivalent college places each year, and make it easier for young people to progress from college to university.
We will protect Educational Maintenance Allowances for nearly 60,000 school and college students.
We will also retain student bursaries, including for student nurses, review student funding, and protect free university education.
Fair Work First
We will adopt a new default position of Fair Work First.
This means Fair Work criteria, including the living wage, action on gender pay, investment in skills and training, no exploitative zero-hours contracts and genuine workforce engagement, will be extended to more contracts and government support grants.
A new Jobs Grant
We will use new powers over social security to provide people aged 16 to 24, who have been out of work for six months or more, with a Jobs Grant. To help them with the cost of getting back into work, they’ll receive a one-off payment of £100 or £250 if they have children.
Help with travel
People looking for work and receiving Jobseekers Allowance benefit from up to two free rail tickets a month for interviews – and a free monthly season ticket when they get a job.
And we’ll provide free bus travel for three months to young people eligible for the new Jobs Grant.
Minimum Wage is reserved to Westminster. Our MPs will fight for a real Living Wage of over £10 by the end of this Parliament for all workers aged over 18. We believe that the rate paid to 16 to 18 year olds and apprentices should increase in line with changes to the rate of the real Living Wage.
The SNP Scottish Government is also using all the powers at its disposal to make pay fair:
- Since 2011 all staff covered by the Scottish Government pay policy – including NHS staff – have been paid at least the real Living Wage
- We are providing councils with funding to pay social care workers the real Living Wage
- Staff working in nurseries delivering our childcare expansion will get at least the real Living Wage
- There are now just under 1300 living wage accredited employers in Scotland. We’re leading the UK, with more than a quarter of accredited real Living Wage employers in the UK based in Scotland.
Whilst employment law is reserved to the UK Government, we are using all levers at our disposal to promote Fair Work and to tackle worker exploitation.
Exploitation of workers through zero-hours contracts, unpaid trial shifts and workplace discrimination is not welcome in Scotland and our SNP MPs will keep fighting for a fairer deal for workers.
Only the full devolution of employment powers will allow the Scottish Parliament to provide long term guarantees and help deliver our progressive fair work agenda and we will continue to press the UK Government to devolve these powers.