By Cara Sulieman
THE SCOTTISH Government was accused of failing the country’s young job seekers yesterday.
And Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray called for them to set up a hotline to help.
Gray said that he had received letters from young apprentices in all over the country struggling to find work and the problem is a lot bigger than he had initially thought.
He said: “I have now discovered there are 800 other young people in exactly the same position.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg.
“The SNP response is an example of their terrible complacency. The system is not working.
“Just look at the figures – over 800 apprentices made redundant and more than half without a new placement.
“That is why I have called for a dedicated helpline to be set up immediately.”
“A lot of these 833 jobs were in the construction industry.
“In one or two years when the economy picks up there will be a need for joiners, builders, brickies and if we don’t find a way for these young people to complete their training then there will be a shortage of skilled workers.
“But the First Minister has not grasped the scale of the problem.
“The system the First Minister has put in place to deliver the Apprentice
Guarantee is not working.”
With him was Oliver Beatson, 19, is just one of over 800 trainees who have been made redundant – with over half of them yet to find alternative employment, according to Gray.
Struggling to find work
Oliver, from Edinburgh, was given his notice from construction firm Sharkey at the end of February and has been struggling to find work since then.
He said: “I lost my job because there just wasn’t enough work coming in. I wasn’t feeling too good about it.
“I was always interested in that type of work and I really enjoyed it.
“Since then I have been trying to get something to keep me going, handing my CV into bars and shops for part time work.
“I’ve had to sign on to the dole to be able to keep myself going.”
SNP hit back
When Oliver couldn’t find help to get another placement or training, he contacted Iain Gray.
But the SNP have hit back – claiming that there is already a network of help and advice in place for young apprentices.
They have said that there is a dedicated helpline already in place and Skills Development Scotland are working to try and find replacement jobs for anyone made redundant.
Kenneth Gibson MSP, said: “Skills Development Scotland keep a database of apprentices made redundant and support them to find new jobs and continue their training.
“Staff work hard to find vacancies for apprentices working with skills councils and trade bodies.
“Iain Gray has failed to do his homework once again.
“Labour should join these constructive efforts and acknowledge the progress we have already made.”
Oliver is thinking about the future and considering going into a new line of training.
He said: “I am thinking of applying for an HNC in computing and would want to go on to do an HND and go to university.
“But I would take a job tomorrow if I was offered one.”
The helpline number is through learndirect on 0808 100 1855.
Edinburgh Napier University
A mentoring programme, Towards a Confident Future, matches students up with local businesses so that they can learn new skills and improve their employability.
Principal & Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Joan Stringer, said: “The Confident Futures programme has been a great success since we started it in 2006 and we are delighted that we will be able to extend the programme to enable other students to benefit and gain the necessary skills to be a confident and ready for employment, all so essential, especially in the current economic climate.”