Letter to the Media - Employers need to 'look behind the label' as we mark Scottish Apprenticeship Week

Published on February 29, 2016

This week marks Scottish Apprenticeship Week. While we are keen to highlight the positive work the Scottish Government has done to get those young people with disabilities and care experience into Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), the figures indicate that just 0.41 per cent of starts in 2014/15 had a self-declared disability.

This is in the context of 8.6 per cent of the population in work in Scotland aged 16 to 24 who have a disability. We therefore welcome the government’s pledge to increase the proportion of MA starts for those with self-declared disability to match the percentage of disabled 16- to 24-year-olds in the population by 2021, and to increase the number of those with care experience in MAs.

The rewards of getting these young people, many of whom boast excellent skills, into work are well worth it, with higher loyalty and retention rates as well as contributing to achieving sustainable economic growth. Through developing the talents of all our young people we can create a more equal society.

In recent years the Scottish Government has taken a number of positive and significant steps for young people in these categories, through the likes of the Employer Recruitment Incentive, but based on these Modern Apprenticeship figures we clearly need to do more.

We need better buy in from employers as it is they who can make the vital difference. So, as we mark Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016 we would urge Scotland’s employers to ‘look behind the label’ when taking on a Modern Apprentice, or when looking at more general employment opportunities, and take advantage of the excellent skills offered by these young people.

Yours faithfully

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition:

Tom McGhee, Managing Director, Spark of Genius
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland
Sophie Pilgrim, Director, Kindred Scotland
Stuart Jacob, Director, Falkland House School
Christine Carlin, Chief Executive, Mindroom
Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations
Liz May, National Co-ordinator, Action for Sick Children Scotland

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