UNISON Scotland has called for direct Scottish Government intervention to stop over 100 jobs being cut at careers agency Skills Development Scotland (SDS) in the face of a mounting youth unemployment crisis.
The union has reacted with shock and anger to the announcement of over 100 redundancies in the frontline Skills Development Scotland workforce. At a time when unemployment in Scotland stands at 231,000 and youth unemployment is standing at 88,000 amongst 18-24 year olds, Skills Development Scotland, whose staff provide vital face to face careers advice and guidance, has taken the decision to further reduce its workforce.
UNISON Regional Organiser Gerry Crawley said: “For the second time in only 12 months Skills Development Scotland have announced large scale redundancies. In March 2011, one in eleven of the workforce were made redundant. Now, in March 2012, one in ten of the remaining workforce are going to be made redundant. At a time of unprecedented youth unemployment in Scotland, there is more need for direct face to face careers advice than ever before. UNISON Scotland is deeply concerned at the level of cuts taking place at Skills Development Scotland and the direction of travel that the organisation is taking in ‘modernising’ its workforce.”
At the start of February 2012 the new Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance unveiled the Scottish Government’s youth unemployment strategy.
As part of the launch Ms Constance referred directly to Skills Development Scotland as one of the agencies that would assist in getting young people back to work.
The Minister stated then that all partners across the public and private sectors need to be “on the same page, pointing in the right direction ensuring we are all standing shoulder to shoulder to provide a national response to what is undoubtedly a national challenge in terms of rising unemployment.”
Just a few weeks later SDS, one of the key agencies which the Government expects to tackle youth unemployment, is itself to be decimated.
Mr Crawley said: “UNISON Scotland agrees that there is a national challenge in terms of rising unemployment and rising youth unemployment. How can the Careers Service and Skills Development Scotland deliver the required face to face intervention with these job cuts happening again? Not once, but twice in one year the frontline services have been cut. It is unacceptable. The Scottish Government needs to invest and restore the staffing levels in Skills Development Scotland. The right hand and the left hand need to work in tandem to get Scotland’s youth back into work.”
“How can the Careers Service and Skills Development Scotland continue to improve the service when their own job losses over the past year have seen a reduction of over 200 frontline staff? The Scottish Government needs to intervene and stop this happening at Skills Development Scotland as it’s a public service that is desperately needed at this time.”