BUSINESSES across Edinburgh are being urged to take on interns and school leavers to prevent a youth unemployment crisis, as new figures revealed a huge rise in the number of young people out of work.
Firms are being asked to hand those without a higher education course the chance to learn on the job as part of an extension of the Edinburgh Guarantee scheme.
At a major conference in Edinburgh yesterday, attended by deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, hundreds of delegates from city firms heard the economic recovery lay with the private sector, with a pressing need to invest in the city’s young people. The plea came as it emerged that long-term youth unemployment for those aged 18-24 has soared by 212 per cent in Edinburgh in the past year.
At least 410 jobseekers of that age have been out of work for more than one year, with Edinburgh South West seeing an increase of 250 per cent in just one year.
Edinburgh City Council has announced it will take on 50 Modern Apprentices for school leavers without a college place and a further 80 spaces on the Inspiring Young People scheme, which provides six-month paid places with a local firm. However, hundreds of similar places will be required, with the private sector being urged to get on board the scheme.
Among those speaking at the Strategy for Jobs conference was Sandy Begbie, group operations officer at Standard Life – which already takes 20 interns per year under the Edinburgh Guarantee. He said the move was a significant investment and that there could be a “minefield of bureaucracy” for smaller firms, but that it could make a difference to the lives of young people.
Mr Begbie said: “We’re bringing in kids and giving them six months work experience and I would urge other companies to work with the council to do the same.”
Anna Louise Simpson, founder of the specialist tea company Mama Tea, urged small firms to take on even a single intern.
As the Evening News reported yesterday, city leaders have set a target of 20,000 new jobs to be created by 2017, with cutting down youth unemployment among the key priorities.
STURGEON CONFIDENT OF RECOVERY
DEPUTY First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used the first speech in her new role as Infrastructure Secretary to speak of her confidence that the city economy is well placed to weather the economic storm.
However, she also warned that Scottish cities would have to work closely together to continue to attract major firms and jobs to Scotland.
She said: “The Scottish Government’s priorities are very clear, supporting businesses, support communities and jobs and supporting growth. “Edinburgh is a prosperous city with a diverse economy, and I have spoken about the strengths of financial sector, tourism and education. It’s not a large city though. Taken together, all of Scotland’s cities and their regions are only as large as Greater Manchester, about 2.5million people.
“While our cities will continue to compete with each other, it is absolutely imperative they find ways to build on each other’s regional strengths so they can develop complementary offerings and compete together internationally.
“The Scottish Cities Alliance provides a really exciting opportunity to deliver new jobs, new businesses and new investment for Scotland and key to its impact will be the capacity to deliver those opportunities at scale.”