Youth unemployment in Scotland’s rural areas came under the spotlight at a seminar convened by the Secretary of State for Scotland in Hawick today (1 September).
In the second in a series of Scotland Office seminars dealing with youth unemployment, Michael Moore emphasised the need for Scotland’s two governments to work together to tackle the issue. An audience of more than 60 stakeholders from government, local government, business bodies, local firms and employability organisations attended the event.
The Minister said:
“I wanted to hold the second seminar in a rural part of Scotland to explore the different labour market challenges facing young people. You’re here because you care about the job prospects of young people in the Borders. Both Governments need to work harder together to ensure the best use is made of our respective resources. Key partners need to collaborate more effectively to support young people into employment.
“Employers need to think about what they can do to ensure that young people get the chance to experience work to enable them to be more employable.”
Youth unemployment is a serious issue across Scotland. The Borders has experienced a drop in employment rates over the two years to 2010, creating a challenging economic situation for young people entering the labour market.
Drawing on UK Government research and statistics, Michael Moore stressed to participants:
“The reality is that very few employers in Scotland recruited young people in the last two to three years. Small businesses regard recruiting young people, particularly inexperienced young people as high risk.
“Employers most often cited lack of work and life experience as the main reason for poor readiness for work. These, of course, are skills which are best developed in work which is why giving young people the chance of work experience is so important.”
The UK Government is committed to improving the work readiness of young people in the Borders and across Scotland. The Government’s Work Experience scheme is giving young benefits claimants a two to eight week placement with an employer at no cost to the employer. Borders employers including Hawick Knitwear, Lochcarron Knitwear, Plexus, NHS Borders, Marks and Spencer and Asda are working with Jobcentre Plus to offer work experience to young people.
After the seminar Michael Moore met 12 young people to discuss their experiences of unemployment and their search for work.
The first Scotland Office seminar to explore the different labour markets challenges facing young Scots was held in Irvine on 19 May. A further seminar will be held in Falkirk and the lessons learned from the seminar series will be taken into an action-focused national convention in Dundee.