November 8th, 2010


Many readers will have grown up in a time when their working life would have been mapped out for them the day they left school.

Whether it be in the shipbuilding, engineering or electronics industry, young people had opportunities to get into work and enjoy job security.

Times have changed though and things aren’t so straightforward for young people as many of the big employers moved on.

The Thatcher years consigned a generation of young people to the employment scrapheap and our communities have paid the price.

While tremendous progress has been made to recover those lost years, challenges remain in creating opportunities for young people.

Given the cuts in higher education, the slump in the construction industry, the contraction of the public sector and cuts to nursing and teacher posts, that challenge is set to get even tougher.

To stop young people falling into the unemployment trap, Inverclyde has led the way in creating these opportunities with the country’s best performing Future Jobs Fund.

This takes 18-24 year olds who have been stuck on Jobseeker’s Allowance and creates six-month job placements for them.

Jim Bristow and the team at the Community Development Team have taken 272 youngsters in the space of a year and handed them the experience, skills and confidence boost to help them find longer-term employment.

Despite this resounding success, the Future Jobs Fund did not survive the Chancellor’s axe as the Tory-led coalition announced its emergency budget in the summer.

This was typical of a government who famously uttered the phrase unemployment is a price worth paying.

But in Scotland, we do not have to accept those decisions, that is why people voted for a Scottish Parliament – Scottish solutions to Scottish problems.

Andy Kerr, the Labour finance spokesman, has pledged to re-instate this valuable scheme next year if it is in his power. The challenge to the Scottish Government is what are you waiting for?