3. A Strong Start for Young People
Skills and Experience
Action 36 – Take action to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021. The Developing Young Workforce ( DYW) programme has achieved the headline target in year 3 of its 7 year programme and has reduced the level of youth unemployment, excluding those in full-time education, by 40 per cent. In addition official statistics for Jan - Mar 2017 showed that Scotland had the 3 rd lowest youth unemployment rate of the EU28 countries at 9.4 per cent. However, we are not being complacent and further progress is necessary.
The Scottish Government produces an annual report on progress with the DYW programme each year, the next is due in December 2017.
Action 37 – Help young people kick start their careers. The DYW programme is committed to increasing the numbers of young people developing employability skills and having relevant work experience, while still at school, to help them kick-start a successful career in their chosen field. To date, we have established the network of 21 industry-led DYW Regional Groups. We are also working towards reducing to 60 per cent the percentage of Modern Apprenticeship frameworks where the gender balance is 75:25 or lower by 2021.
As well as encouraging school/employer partnerships through the Regional Groups, "Marketplace" is now being rolled out. This is an online digital tool helping employers offer work inspiration activities - such as career insight activities and mentoring providing direct business insight - to young people in school or college more easily.
Action 38 – Widen access to university. The Scottish Government wants everyone to have an equal chance of entering university, no matter what their socio-economic background. It's commitment to free tuition is firm and unequivocal. Higher Education in Scotland is based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.
We are on track to meet our target that students from the 20% most deprived backgrounds should represent 20% of entrants to higher education by 2030. This equality of access should be seen in both the college sector and the university sector. To make this happen, we committed to implementing in full the recommendations from the Commission on Widening Access.
We have been making good progress and all five of the Commission's 'foundational recommendations' have either been delivered or are on track. This includes: replacing student loans with a bursary of £7,625 for 2017/18 higher education students with care experience; appointing a Commissioner for Fair Access, who has begun development of a Scottish Framework for Fair Access; and establishing an Access Delivery Group, which will coordinate and monitor the progress of implementation of the recommendations across all parts of the education system and ensure that students from the most deprived areas of Scotland are supported to achieve their aspirations into, through and beyond higher education.
New: We have committed to implementing the recommendations of the Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality; as outlined in her second report ' The Life Chances of Young People in Scotland' . We will start to implement these in 2018, the Year of the Young Person.
Financial Help and Other Support for Those Who Need It
Action 39 – Introduce a job grant for young people aged 16-24. This new grant is aimed at young people who have been out of work for six months or more. It will be a one off payment of either £100 or £250 for individuals with children and a provision of free bus travel for 3 months. In addition, we will pilot free bus travel for young modern apprentices in 2018-19. We are continuing to engage with stakeholders, including young people themselves, to develop the scope of the policy, defining the eligibility criteria to make sure the grant is accessible for vulnerable young people. This will help our wider aspiration to support young people achieve their potential and help them transition into employment.
Action 40 – Help young people age 18-21 with their housing costs. The UK Government has removed automatic entitlement to housing benefit from 18-21 year olds as part of £12 billion of cuts to social security over the period of this UK Parliament. In April 2017, the Scottish Government introduced a scheme to help those 18-21 year olds on Universal Credit who are not entitled to support for housing costs. The scheme allows young people in this situation to receive assistance through the Scottish Welfare Fund, so no young person is left without access to this vital support.
Action 41 – Help Young Scot make the national entitlement card smart-ready for 11-25 year olds. Work on this action has been mostly been in consultation with Young Scot and Transport Scotland, and is on-going. Consultation commenced in August on a proposed Modern Apprentice free bus travel scheme, which it is anticipated will utilise the smart National Entitlement Card ( NEC). The NEC board reaffirmed in August 2017 that all 11-25 year olds who want a smart card will be given one. This action is relevant to other actions around costs of the school day ( Action 30) and helping young people with work-related transport costs ( Action 39). We stand ready to help Young Scot wherever and however we can as they deliver on their attainment commitments to other policy areas. Transport Scotland will be supporting Young Scot on delivery of attainment transport pilots as they emerge during the coming weeks and months.