A Strong Start For All Young People
As many young people told us during the Fairer Scotland conversations, today's generation faces enormous challenges. A range of social security support has been withdrawn over recent years. Young people are not covered by key improvements to the National Minimum Wage. And a lack of social mobility remains a major problem. We are already investing heavily to support young people - for example, enhancing the Educational Maintenance Allowance and protecting the right to free university tuition. But we heard you loud and clear: we must do more, and we will do more.
Here are a range of key actions that the Scottish Government will take over this parliamentary term.
Skills And Experience
The right skills and experiences in training and the workplace are key to a strong start. We will invest in supporting young people to build high quality careers, focusing on both the vocational and the higher education routes.
We will take action to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021. This is the headline target of Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), our 7 year reform programme and we are already making progress - youth unemployment has decreased by 9,000 from our baseline figure of 52,000 in January to March 2014. To keep on track, we will increase the provision and uptake of vocational qualifications, a DYW priority which will help deliver work-based options in the senior phase. Key to our success is encouraging secondary schools and colleges to develop high quality and productive partnerships with employers, delivering a connected and labour market relevant offer for young people. We will also do more to promote the uptake of new opportunities so that more young people can benefit from the increased range of options on offer in the senior phase.
We will significantly increase the numbers of young people getting industry experience while still at school to help them kick-start a successful career in their chosen field. An important strand of the DYW programme sees Skills Development Scotland (SDS) working with partners to deliver Foundation Apprenticeships (FA), work-based learning opportunities for pupils in S4 and S5. The qualification takes two years to complete and is linked to one of six key sectors of the Scottish economy. Young people gain an industry-recognised qualification, work on real projects and broaden their career options for when they leave school. Employers get the opportunity to attract highly motivated and committed young people who are right for their business, ensuring they have the skills they need. Seventy-two pupils enrolled in Foundation Apprenticeships in 2014/15. In 2015/16, this increased to over 300 pupils and in 2016/17 there will be over 1,000 pupils recruited across all local authority areas in Scotland. We will increase this further in future years.
"YouthLink Scotland pledge to support the Scottish Government's aims of ensuring 'A Fairer Scotland for All' and 'A Strong Start for All Young People'. We will do this by continuing to support the significant contribution that youth work makes to equality and the realisation of young people's human rights. More specifically, in the coming year we will:
- Work in partnership with Education Scotland, to provide training to the youth work sector on the use of the 'Recognising and Realising Children's Rights Toolkit'. The toolkit supports the development of human rights based policy and practice.
- Provide support to the newly established Scottish Equalities in Youth Work Steering Group in their role to highlight and develop the contribution of youth work to equality, diversity and human rights
- Work in partnership with Zero Tolerance to roll out the 'Under Pressure' (Preventing Teen Abuse) training programme to the youth sector.
- Work in collaboration with the youth work sector and young people from across Scotland to research and promote the contribution of youth work to gender equality.
Youth Link Scotland
We will carry out a comprehensive review of life chances of older children and young adults, with particular emphasis on young people from poorer backgrounds. This was one of the key recommendations of the Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality. While huge progress has been made on understanding the needs of very young children, the evidence base on the needs of adolescents and young adults needs further development as does a clear sense of which interventions are most effective for this group. A review of evidence will be essential to shape future policy on this critical stage of transition from childhood to adulthood.
We will take action to widen access to university: our ambition is that any child born today should have an equal chance of entering university, no matter what their socio-economic background is. To achieve this, we are committed to implementing in full the recommendations from the Commission on Widening Access.11 These include implementing national and institutional targets, introducing a full bursary for young people who have grown up in care, and appointing a Commissioner for Fair Access to take the lead on these issues and make sure we deliver. And we will, of course, keep university tuition free.
"The Prince's Trust Scotland pledges to expand Mosaic, our new mentoring programme for BME young people who are growing up in the most deprived communities. Working with schools, we will link young people up with inspirational mentors who will act as role models. This will support young people to boost their confidence, aspirations and long-term employability skills."
Prince's Trust Scotland
Financial Help And Other Support For Those Who Need It
In addition to supporting young people with training and skills, we will provide a range of financial help for young people.
We will introduce a Job Grant for young people aged 16-24 who have been out of work for six months or more. The grant is worth £250 for those with children and £100 for those without. We plan to supplement this cash payment with free bus travel for a three month period. In addition, we will provide free bus travel for modern apprentices under 21.
We will ensure that support for housing costs is not taken away from young people aged 18-21. Having a sound, secure and affordable place to live is fundamental to enabling young people to realise their potential. The UK Government has said that automatic entitlement to housing benefit will be removed from 18-21 year olds as part of the £12 billion reduction in welfare spending over the period of this UK Parliament. Once the UK policy is announced, our response will ensure that the interests of young people aged 18-21 are protected.
Transport Scotland is working with Young Scot to make the National Entitlement Card smart ready for 11-25 year olds. This in turn should help with equity of access to public services such as transport.
"We pledge to use the Young Scot National Entitlement Card and its built-in smart-technology to connect young people to services and opportunities. There are already over 650,000 Young Scot cardholders in Scotland. We know that when we empower young people and give them access to opportunities - in transport, leisure, libraries, training or employability - great things happen. The smart-tech card will help Young Scot tackle inequality directly, making sure that no-one is stigmatised in the process, and supporting those young people in the greatest need."
Ryan McDonagh, Finlay Taylor, Shannon Goundry,
Young Scot (From left to right)