Over the past ten years we’ve taken action help young people get into work. We have met our target to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent, four years ahead of schedule, with a rate that is amongst the lowest in the EU.
But there’s much still to do to ensure young people can find good, well paid, work.
Here’s how we’re doing that.
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 220,000 young people have had the opportunity to undertake a Modern Apprenticeship - earning a wage, gaining new skills and recognised qualifications.
Over the next year, at least 28,000 new apprentices will be trained, with more support for rural areas and key sectors. And by 2020, a further 30,000 opportunities will be available every year.
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.
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.
We are also extending free bus travel to everyone under 21 in a Modern Apprenticeship. 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
✔️ To promote the Living Wage in all sectors, we will seek to double the number accredited employers in Scotland from 500 to 1,000 by Autumn 2017
Employment law is reserved to Westminster. SNP MPs are fighting for a fairer deal for workers. We’re calling for a ban on exploitative zero hours contracts. Stewart McDonald MP is taking forward a Bill that, if passed, would bring an end to unpaid ‘trial periods’, which are often exploitative to young people in particular. And, Chris Stephens MP will also introduce a Fair Rights at Work Bill at Westminster that would put in place workplace protection for gig economy workers.
In government, we don’t directly employ anyone on zero hours contracts. We’ve also introduced new guidance to ensure that companies bidding for public sector contracts don’t use exploitative zero hours contracts. And we’re encouraging businesses to commit to not using exploitative contracts through the Scottish Business Pledge.