More Capital school leavers beating the dole queue

MORE city school leavers are going into work, training or further education, new figures have shown, but hundreds continue to join the dole queue.

Of the pupils who left schools in the Capital in December 2010 and May 2011, more than 86 per cent were in a “positive destination” by March this year – compared with 83.1 per cent last March for previous leavers.

Eleven of the city’s 23 secondary schools were above the national average figure. Of these schools, four had ten or fewer youngsters still unemployed in March this year – Balerno, Boroughmuir, St Augustine’s and St Thomas of Aquin’s.

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The highest number of youngsters – 27 – who were out of work were former pupils of Leith Academy.

A total of 394 pupils who left school in December 2010 and May 2011 were unemployed in September last year, which reduced to 197 pupils – 120 boys and 77 girls – in March. Many of them were from the most deprived areas of the city.

The Edinburgh Guarantee scheme, which finds paid internships in the public and private sectors for school leavers unable to find a job or university course, contributed to the increase in the number of youngsters starting work.

Support provided by the scheme includes 20 six-month paid placements at Standard Life, 13 jobs with Balfour Beattie, sub-contractors at Quartermile, and four paid placements and four modern apprenticeships at John Lewis, as well as 50 modern apprenticeships and 80 training places at the city council.

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Paul Godzik, the city’s education leader, said: “The Edinburgh Guarantee is delivering real progress and I’m delighted that Edinburgh continues to improve on making sure young people find work, training or further education when they finish school.

“We still have a way to go but things are definitely improving. The council is totally committed to building on the success of the Edinburgh Guarantee and I would like to thank all those involved for their efforts and encourage them to keep up the good work.”

Since its inception, the Edinburgh Guarantee has created 621 opportunities, including 192 jobs in 2011 and 98 to date this year.

Cameron Rose, leader of the Conservative group on the city council, said more work had to be done.

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He said: “I welcome the improvement but there’s a long way still to go. The Edinburgh Guarantee is a welcome source of positive destinations, although there were very substantial levels of apprenticeships and employment for school leavers guaranteed by the outsourcing models which were dropped by the SNP and Labour five or six months ago.

“I’m pretty sure that the Edinburgh Guarantee has not made up the shortfall that was promised then. The outsourcing models would have involved a number of different streams, and those companies were guaranteeing to provide a very significant number of apprenticeships and positive destinations, but that was all lost. The Edinburgh Guarantee is only beginning to make up some of that.”

Business across the Capital were urged to take on interns and school leavers during a summit in the Capital last month.

At the Strategy for Jobs conference, Sandy Begbie, group operations officer at Standard Life, said the Edinburgh Guarantee 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.

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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.

A further report on the progress in improving positive destinations is due by January next year.