We noted with interest the latest The Scottish Government figures that almost 12,600 people have started a Modern Apprenticeship since April, three-quarters of whom were aged 16 to 24.
As part of the Scottish Government target of getting 30,000 people into Modern Apprentices (MA) by 2020 this is very welcome, and will go a long way in helping the next generation begin meaningful careers. More however must be done to get young people with disabilities and care experience into MAs, as the figures indicate that just 3.9 per cent of starts in 2015/16 had a self-declared disability.
The Scottish Government has pledged 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, standing at 8.6 per cent. This is something we will of course hold it to.
The rewards of getting these young people, many of whom boast excellent skills, into work are well worth it, with high 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.
We need greater support at school and a more proactive career service for those with disabilities but it is employers who can make the vital difference. So, we would urge Scotland’s employers to ‘look beyond 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.
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
Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations
Liz May, National Co-ordinator, Action for Sick Children Scotland