Monday marks the beginning of Scottish Apprenticeship Week and given this we are delighted to note the Scottish Government’s recent pledge of £500,000 to support apprenticeship opportunities for under-represented groups such as care leavers and those with a disability, something we have been campaigning on for some time.
Figures from Skills Development Scotland show that north of the border less than 0.4% of those in a Modern Apprenticeship (MA) have a declared disability. Yet approximately 8% of the 16-24 year old target population is disabled. In comparison, figures from the Skills Funding Agency in England indicate a figure of 8.7% of those in MAs have a disability.
In addition to this group care leavers experience some of the poorest educational and employment outcomes of any group of young people, with one in three unemployed 9 months after leaving school.
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.
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 figures we clearly need to do more. We need better buy in from businesses and employers as it is they who can make the vital difference. And we also need the Scottish Government to set realistic targets for care leavers and those with a disability undertaking MAs, as recommended by the Wood Commission.
As we mark Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2015, we would urge Scotland’s employers to look beyond the label when taking on a Modern Apprentice and take advantage of the excellent skills offered by many of 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