Mike Crockart: Employers now have big incentive to take on youngsters

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Unemployment in Scotland fell by 19,000 over the last quarter. The Scottish unemployment rate now stands at 7.6 per cent, below the UK average of 7.8 per cent.

In the UK as a whole, the number of people out of work fell by 82,000 between August and October to 2.51 million.

The national fall was driven by the biggest drop in youth unemployment on record. As a Government, we have invested £1 billion into the Youth Contract, a package of measures aimed at helping young people to get ready for and find work.

On December 17 the Government announced an extension of the wage incentive scheme which forms part of the Contract. Wage incentives allow employers to claim up to £2275 when they take on a young person who has been out of work for some time.

In Edinburgh, through the city council’s Guarantee scheme, we are matching school leavers anxious for work with employers willing to help them to get the experience they need. This is in addition to the places secured through the Youth Contract.

I know from my campaign to find 100 local training opportunities for 100 young people that there are a lot of employers keen to take someone who simply cannot afford it. So with wage incentives now available nationwide after six months, I hope we can help even more young people in Edinburgh to find work.

The extension of wage incentives shows the Government’s determination to support Scotland’s young people in today’s challenging job market. If you’d like to join me in doing that, then email me at mike.crockart.mp@parliament.uk.

• Mike Crockart is MP for Edinburgh West