A jobs guarantee for young people to help in the coronavirus recovery will be funded by £60 million from the Scottish Government, the Economy Secretary has said.
Speaking in Holyrood on Wednesday, Fiona Hyslop told MSPs the programme, which was recommended by the Scottish Government’s advisory group on economic recovery, will be backed by a portion of a £100 million fund announced last month.
Tesco Bank chief transformation officer Sandy Begbie, who helped to design a similar scheme in Edinburgh, has been asked to put together an implementation plan.
It is hoped the programme will “keep young people in work, to encourage employers to recruit more young people and ensure our education system prepares young people for future work opportunities”.
She said: “I can announce today that the Scottish Government will be committing £60 million of the £100 million employability fund to support Scotland’s youth guarantee. targeted at those in need of support.
“The young people who will make up our future work force are among those who have been hit hardest by this pandemic.
“We must support our young people – I want to send a clear message to them today.”
Ms Hyslop added she is willing to work with opposition parties from across the chamber and that the recovery gives Scotland an opportunity to “do things differently, to rebuild our economy with wellbeing and fair work at its heart”.
She said: “We need a national endeavour, working with partners from across the economy and society to deliver on the recommendations for recovery – we need everyone to play their part.
“I reiterate my offer to work constructively with MSPs as part of that national recovery work.”
Scottish Tory economy spokesman Maurice Golden said the plan lacks the necessary detail.
He told Ms Hyslop: “The Government’s response contains much to welcome – talk of a green recovery, addressing rising unemployment and focusing on the wellbeing of our citizens.
“But the detail on how to accomplish any of that is still missing and I say that because we need urgent action to prevent this crisis becoming a catastrophe.”
He added: “We need to see the practical long and short term policy steps, a common thread across every section of the plan.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard described the current jobs market as “nothing short of catastrophic”.
Mr Leonard said: “On the day when the UK economy is officially defined as being in recession, what is required to avoid a prolonged slump is a radical approach, including a radical use of the powers of this parliament.
“And that means we need public investment in infrastructure and education.”
Scottish Greens MSP Andy Wightman said the Scottish Government’s proposals are “tinkering at the edges”.
He added: “In other words there’s little that is genuinely new that matches the scale of the crisis.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The strategy must be to make sure we have that transition from one type of economy to the next, while making sure we protect individuals from the worst of the recession.”