4. Young people
"a strong focus on supporting young people to realise their potential, including support for their health and wellbeing, access to housing, skills development, employment and incomes"
'Doing Politics Differently'
Summary of recommendations
Recommendations 33 – 37 are themed as 'Young people'. These include proposals on the provision of mental health care services, the need for affordable accommodation and ensuring better employment opportunities for young people.
It is significant that the Assembly identified a focus on young people as a specific theme in its recommendations. The transition from school or other education into adult life and work, and independent living, brings a range of challenges. Public services can seem focussed on school age young people and children, or provided generally for the adult population as a whole.
The pandemic has highlighted the issues that face young people. There has also been a particularly severe impact on young people, whether in education, transition from education into work, or in employment in sectors badly affected by the pandemic and the measures taken to counter it.
On apprenticeships and training (recommendations 35) the government has set out plans for the Young Person's Guarantee which gives every young person who wants it the opportunity to study, take up an apprenticeship, job or work experience, or participate in formal volunteering. The government is providing a further £70 million this year for the Young Person's Guarantee, which, combined with £60 million for 2020/21, will aim to support at least 24,000 new and enhanced opportunities, across a range of sectors and projects. This includes 11,000 employment, education and training opportunities through local employability partnerships, 9,000 additional places in colleges and 2,600 opportunities for vulnerable and care experienced young people. In addition, the funding will connect over 1,000 disabled young people to fair work, education and activities designed to ensure a successful transition into adult life and work, and support up to 500 graduate level placements of between 6 and 12 months to support progression into sustainable, graduate level employment. Apprenticeships are a key part of the Young Person's Guarantee; the government will maximise apprenticeship opportunities, building back up to 30,000 starts and assess demand to see how much further to go.
On opportunities for young people to access extra-curricular activities, including sports and the arts (recommendation 37), the Programme for Government sets out plans to:
- double investment in sport and active living to £100 million a year by the end of the Parliament, ensuring more people can enjoy active lives in the recovery, improving physical, mental and social health
- ensure that Active Schools programmes are free for all children and young people by the end of this Parliament, to provide opportunities for more children and young people to take part in sport before, during and after school
- invest in cultural and creative programmes, including Sistema Scotland and the Youth Music Initiative, which help young people grow confidently as citizens, foster wellbeing and support attainment
On young people's mental health (recommendation 33), the Programme for Government sets out a range of measures on mental health services, including a commitment to work with health boards to ensure at least 1% of all frontline NHS spend goes on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by the end of this Parliament as well as increasing the availability of preventative and early intervention services. In 2021-22 an additional £40 million has been allocated from the £120 million Mental Health Recovery and Renewal fund for CAMHS. The Covid Recovery Strategy also commits to provide an additional £15 million to local authorities in 2021-22 to deliver locally-based mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people aged 5 to 24, and to developing a Student Mental Health Action Plan.
On affordable housing (recommendation 34), the Programme for Government sets out the government's long-term housing strategy Housing to 2040 and current plans, including delivering 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032, with at least 70% for social rented sector and 10% in remote, rural and island communities. The policy is not targeted by age so it will benefit young people along with others in the community. Also relevant to this recommendation are the government's measures to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping and the forthcoming Rented Sector Strategy, including a national system of rent controls and a new deal for tenants. Specifically for young people, there will be a rent guarantor for estranged young people and legislation will exempt young people from Council Tax until they reach the age of 22.
Another specific recommendation is to raise the minimum wage for young people aged 16-24 to a national living wage (recommendation 36). This is currently a reserved matter, and the Scottish Government supports the devolution of powers over employment law, including the minimum wage, to the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government is fully committed to promoting Fair Work practices throughout Scotland and will continue to press the UK Government for the full set of powers around employment law to allow the government to fully deliver its Fair Work ambitions. Furthermore, the government has encouraged the abolition of the apprentice rate and a move towards the 'real' Living Wage of £9.50 per hour for all workers.
The recommendations of the Assembly on young people call for the needs of this group to be considered in a more integrated way. There is already work across government to support care experienced young people, aligning work in health, education, justice, care, communities and the economy. There is also a commitment to develop a School Leavers' Toolkit providing practical information about budgeting and finances, as well as guidance for school leavers on how to exercise their full democratic rights as citizens.
To follow up the work of the Assembly and its recommendations on young people, and to ensure young people have a full voice in the issues that affect them, the government will introduce a brand new Citizens' Assembly for under 16s, so that the generation who will grow up with the consequences of the decisions taken now can be involved in making them.
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