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15 April 2014

Stevenson Welcomes Modern Apprenticeships Pledge

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has welcomed today’s announcement that Scotland’s highly successful Modern Apprenticeship programme is to be expanded with a new target that will give 30,000 young people a year the opportunity to achieve a high level vocational qualification within a real job.

Announcing the move, First Minister Alex Salmond told the STUC congress in Dundee that the target for new Modern Apprenticeship starts would increase year by year from 25,000 to 30,000 by 2020, with the additional opportunities focused on higher level apprenticeships.

The First Minister also highlighted how an independent Scotland would use its powers to benefit female workers in Scotland, including promoting female representation at senior management level; strengthening employment protection and transforming childcare to enable more female participation in the workplace.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“In these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever that young people are given the support they need to start their careers or undertake further training.

“The SNP Scottish Government has reversed the previous administration’s woeful record on apprenticeships and college places and provided vital options to young people. Young people and their parents will doubtless welcome this announcement and the positive impact it will have for thousands of people across Scotland.”

Speaking at the STUC Congress, First Minister Alex Salmond told delegates:

“During the last two years, the Scottish Government has led key initiatives – together with the unions, employers, business organisations, the third sector and the wider public sector - to promote both women’s employment and youth employment.

“Scotland currently has the eighth lowest rate of youth unemployment in the European Union. It is still far too high - but we have made significant progress.

“Our Opportunities for All guarantee means that all people between the age of 16 and 19 have a chance of employment, training or education. Sir Ian Wood’s Commission on Developing our Young Workforce is producing proposals which will align our education and training systems ever closer to the work place.

“We are ensuring that the great events of 2014 – the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, the year of Homecoming – leave a human legacy as well as a physical legacy. So far, more than 1,000 young people have participated in our employment recruitment initiative and the volunteering and training scheme.

“And we are delivering 25,000 modern apprenticeships a year, up from 15,000 when we took office. This policy has been an overwhelming success. 92% of people are still in work 6 months after they finish their apprenticeships.

“And it’s because of the success of our commitment – particularly to higher level apprenticeships – that I am announcing today that we will go further.

“We will create thousands of additional apprenticeship places by 2020 – focussed on the highest level jobs and highest level schemes.

“This expansion will take our total target to 30,000 modern apprentices each year – equipping even more of our young people with the skills that they need, for the jobs of the future.”

The First Minister continued:

“And just as we are promoting youth employment, so we are promoting women’s employment. Female participation in the labour market is now over two percentage points higher than for the UK as a whole – 65,000 women joined the workforce in the twelve months to January of this year.

“The percentage of women starting apprenticeships has risen from 27% to 42.9% since 2008/09.

“Angela Constance and Shona Robison have been proposed for promotion to the Cabinet because they are the best people to lead on policies which are crucial to Scotland’s future. Their appointment means that Scotland’s Cabinet has 40% female representation. For public appointments overall the figure has increased to 39%.

“This merit-based approach is the route by which we believe all boards – public and private – can achieve better representation of women. This is part of the inclusive society we will create with independence.

“We will also transform childcare – giving our children the best possible start in life, increasing female workforce participation, and generating the tax revenues for Scotland which flow from that, and which will make that transformation sustainable.

“There is a fundamental point here. It is unacceptable for the talents and expertise of half of our population to be underrepresented in the boardroom or in the workforce more widely. It’s an obstacle to prosperity and an affront to social justice.”

In February, figures for the first three quarters of the financial year showed that the Scottish Government’s target of at least 25,000 new MAs every year is well on course to be met this year with 19,124 Modern Apprenticeship starts. More information is here - http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Apprenticeship-numbers-rising-987.aspx

Currently, 77% of participants in the Modern Apprentice programme range from 16-24 years old, with 23% of participants being 25+ years old. More information on the Modern Apprenticeship programme is here -http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/statistics/modern-apprenticeships/
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