City’s work cut out with hit job scheme

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City council chiefs have been bombarded by interest from Edinburgh companies wanting to offer job placements to young people who cannot find work.

The council initially aimed to provide around 100 placements for people that are not in education, employment or training (NEETS) under chief executive Sue Bruce’s innovative £750,000 “Edinburgh guarantee” scheme.

It has now emerged about 500 people are expected to be given internships or placements in the first year of the scheme after interest from major Edinburgh employers including NHS Lothian, Royal Bank of Scotland, BT, Standard Life and JP Morgan.

The figure is equivalent to one placement for every young person who has been unable to find a “positive destination” after leaving school last year.

The council is set to apply for more funding to expand its own placements.

Councillor Tom Buchanan, the city’s economic development leader, said: “Edinburgh’s young people have a vital role to play in the economic future of our city but times are tough and opportunities are harder to come by now than a few years ago.

“Every school leaver deserves an opportunity to work so we’ve been working hard with private and public sector organisations across Edinburgh to secure a range of high quality opportunities that will help many young people become part of Edinburgh’s pool of talent.

“The support and interest so far, from across the sectors, has been fantastic and we are seeing some great opportunities emerging. Edinburgh depends on its young people so we’re determined to keep pushing for more success.”

Figures from last September showed that 17.5 per cent of 2009/10 school leavers had failed to find a “positive destination” such as education or employment – amounting to a higher proportion of school leavers than any other council area in Scotland. An update in March found the figure had dropped to 17 per cent, still well above the Scottish average of 14.8 per cent.

The council planned to provide apprenticeships for around 50 people, as well as training support for another 80.

Employers that sign up to the scheme have to agree to pay the minimum wage for under 18s, which is equivalent to £3312 for a six-month placement.

Graham Bell, a spokesman for the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “This will address [the problem of people being unable to find a job or college place after leaving school] and it is an excellent response from the public and private sector organisations.

“The biggest impact of the economic downturn has been the effect on young people and if we do not feed good young people into work we will be short of people with the right skills when the recovery does come.”

mblackley@edinburghnews.com