The United Nations General Assembly designated 15 July as World Youth Skills Day; a date which offers the opportunity to highlight the importance of equipping young people with the skills and knowledge they need to enter the world of work.
I believe that investment in our young people is money well spent, so I warmly welcome the recent announcement by the Scottish Government of an additional £3.8 million of funding for Modern Apprenticeships (MAs).
Over the past few years the number of young people completing work-based training has increased, so I was pleased to be invited by Skills Development Scotland to meet with a number workers in East Renfrewshire who are training as Modern Apprentices.
During a visit to Enchanted Forest Nursery in Thornliebank I had the chance to discuss the benefits of MAs with nursery workers training in the child care sector.
I was given a tour of the nursery facilities by Manager Lynne Carruthers and Group Early Learning Manager Lisa McGarry.
They introduced me to a number of trainees undertaking their Modern Apprenticeships and I also met with several staff who have been given permanent positions after completing their apprentice training.
The young workers I spoke with said that they really value the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience as well as the qualifications they need to pursue their chosen careers.
Modern Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of sectors and are a key part of the SNP’s successful youth employment strategy.
Indeed, the Scottish Government has exceeded its target of 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships a year every year since 2011/12, with a commitment for the number of MAs available to increase to 30,000 by 2020.
Figures from Skills Development Scotland show that in East Renfrewshire there has been a 38.9 per cent increase in the number of people starting Modern Apprenticeships over the past 8 years.
This is good news as it shows that more young people in the area are being given the opportunity to get into work, learn new skills and secure a better future.
The Scottish Government has set a target of reducing youth unemployment by 40 per cent by the year 2021. It’s an ambitious aim, but an achievable one — and continued growth in the number of available MA training places will be integral to improving employment opportunities for many young Scots.
A survey last year found that 92 per cent of people who complete their Modern Apprenticeship go on to be in employment six months later.
This shows that MAs are a great way to get that first step on the employment ladder – offering on-the-job learning, practical experience and industry recognised qualifications.
If you’re an individual interested in training opportunities, or a local employer looking to take on a Modern Apprentice, then further information is available online from Skills Development Scotland: www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk.