Council to guarantee real future for leavers

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ALL teenagers will have the chance to leave school with a job, work placement or apprenticeship secured in order to drive down youth unemployment to zero.

The council’s chief executive Sue Bruce today said it was “not beyond the realms of possibility” that every school leaver could be helped to find a “positive destination” to move into, instead of joining the ranks of the unemployed.

The call to combat the number of teenagers leaving school with nowhere to go comes after the Scottish Government published figures which reveal that 394 young people in Edinburgh left school this year without a positive destination – higher or further education, training or employment – to go on to.

While this was a significant drop from the 538 the previous year – and the lowest figure the Capital had seen in 13 years – council chiefs say it is “not good enough”.

City education leader Marilyne MacLaren said: “We are very pleased that we are making progress. But it’s not good enough. In school we can get them ready for work but if we haven’t got anywhere to send these youngsters to, we are just preparing them for a vacuum, so we really do need the private sector to work with us.”

The drop in youth unemployment this year has been largely put down to the “Edinburgh guarantee” initiative, which was launched earlier this year.

The scheme brings together employers and other organisations with the aim of creating jobs, training and education opportunities for school leavers. The council has now re-focused its efforts in getting these businesses on board in the hope that the figures can be driven down to zero.

Sue Bruce – who found herself unemployed for three months after she graduated – said: “We are looking for any opportunity that gives a positive destination for young people. A good proportion of youngsters are coming out of school with good qualifications, so they are not ending up without a positive destination because they haven’t done well, so we wanted to make a real concerted effort to help them.

“In a city with such diversity, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we could actually find an opportunity for everybody.”

Around 110 people attended a business breakfast yesterday – including representatives from JP Morgan, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, Standard Life and Lothian Buses – to talk about the Edinburgh guarantee scheme.

‘I didn’t know it existed’

MARK Reynolds was one of 3423 pupils who left school this year.

The former Balerno High pupil secured a placement with Impact Arts, a social enterprise which works in local communities using the arts, music, drama, dance and technology.

The 17-year-old said: “The arts is something I have always been interested in but I didn’t know anything like this existed in Edinburgh.”