Young people play a vital role in delivering our ambition for Scotland. We want to create a more successful country, by supporting young people to achieve their potential and reduce inequality. We are committed to supporting them to make their contribution to sustainable and inclusive growth, as well as a better and fairer society. The Young Person's Guarantee is one way in which this can be achieved and I am grateful to Sandy Begbie for his continued efforts in playing a pivotal role to implement a Young Person's Guarantee for Scotland.
The last 16 months have been exceptionally challenging and although no one has been left untouched by the pandemic, there is no doubt that younger people have faced difficulties. We have seen the employment rate for young people fall to its lowest level since the Annual Population Survey began in 2004, and we further know that young people are more likely to be supported through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. While working to address these impacts is absolutely necessary, I have also been clear that the Young Person's Guarantee will not be a short-term intervention in response to COVID-19. Following Sandy's valuable direction, the Scottish Government officially launched the Young Person's Guarantee in November 2020 and we have been working with a range of partners to deliver on our shared ambition. It is clear that we must work together to ensure that every person between 16 and 24 has the opportunity of a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training programme or volunteering.
Young people themselves have responded well to the challenges of the last 16 months often demonstrating great flexibility, ingenuity and resilience. So too have our teachers, lecturers, trainers, key workers, delivery partners and employers. However, it remains crucial that we continue to build on this, by providing a range of opportunities.
We have started from strong foundations with the Developing the Young Workforce programme, which is designed to strengthen partnerships between education, employers and the skills system; collaboration with local government; services from Skills Development Scotland (SDS); and, world-class universities and colleges. In our First Steps publication, we outlined what immediate action needed to be taken to deliver on our commitment to young people, reiterating our promise to tackle youth unemployment and improve the lives of young people. Building on our significant core investment to the various component parts of the Young Person's Guarantee, we are also investing an additional £70 million to support:
- local partnerships to provide training and employer recruitment incentives;
- colleges to deliver around 5,000 more short, industry-focussed courses;
- the continued rollout of new School Coordinators through Developing the Young Workforce; and,
- a new graduate internship scheme, increased volunteering capacity and third sector programmes.
I am delighted to say that we have delivered on those commitments and I am grateful to all partners and stakeholders who have played their part in making this happen. However, it is only through our continued, collaborative efforts that we will make the enduring and sustained changes to the landscape for young people that will help them to achieve their potential.
There is a range of other exciting work underway, with a number of key milestones to be achieved over the coming year. This publication is accompanied by the Key Performance Indicators, which as part of the broader Measurement and Evaluation Framework, will support our understanding of impact of the Young Person's Guarantee across a range of economic, education and equalities outcomes. I look forward to welcoming Grahame Smith's final report from the Career, Information, Advice and Guidance Review, due at the end of the year, which will help shape future improvements to these crucial services. The Young Person's Guarantee will continue to be driven by the needs of young people, which is why we are working with Young Scot and partners to take forward the Leadership Panel. The Panel will help shape the future direction, ensuring youth engagement and leadership are embedded in the implementation and future decision making.
As we move forward, the Young Person's Guarantee will look to provide a synergy between young people, employers and providers with the skills needed for Scotland's future, including an inclusive and environmentally focused economy as we work towards our net zero ambitions. However, getting young people into work and retaining jobs are not enough. The guiding principles of fair work are central to the Young Person's Guarantee and our economic recovery, and they must be a hallmark of our wellbeing economy. Employer engagement has been built around five commitments, which have been developed in partnership with business, ensuring challenging but proportionate commitments to improve the lives of young people. The recent OECD review of Curriculum for Excellence acknowledged efforts to promote and develop vocational education, including strengthening partnerships between schools, colleges and employers to cater more efficiently to learners' needs, linking with the needs of the economy. Whilst much has been achieved, there is undoubtedly more to do as we develop a progressive skills and careers agenda for young people.
In this parliamentary term, we want COP26 to leave a legacy of green opportunities, and will use this opportunity to connect young people with nature based employment or education. Similarly, delivery of the Young Person's Guarantee will support more young people, particularly young women, to pursue careers in farming and land management. I am also fully aware of the need to continue our strategic collaboration with local government to share best practice and strengthen local partnerships delivering the Young Person's Guarantee right across Scotland. This is in addition to working closely with our partners in further and higher education in continuing to create valuable opportunities in our colleges and universities. It is crucial to ensure that equality and inclusion remain central to the Young Person's Guarantee, which have been recognised by the interconnected principles and policies, and provides a framework to support those who need it most.
This publication sets out in more detail how the recommendations within Youth Guarantee - No-One Left Behind: Initial Report have been taken forward, and what the key next steps are for delivery. The initial report successfully outlined the approach we need to take as partners to ensure that young people can realise their potential through the Young Person's Guarantee. It is inspiring to see that this ambition is shared right across Scotland, and I look forward to continue working closely together to deliver a real and lasting impact for our young people.
Jamie Hepburn MSP
Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training