IPPR Scotland: Jobs Guarantee Fund needed as 50,000 leave education in Scotland this summer

The government must introduce a new ‘jobs guarantee fund’ and expand apprenticeship, college and university places to protect the ‘COVID class of 2020’, according to research published today by IPPR Scotland.

IPPR Scotland: Jobs Guarantee Fund needed as 50,000 leave education in Scotland this summer

As we approach the end of academic year, the think-tank has released new figures which show that 50,000 people will leave education this summer in Scotland- enough to fill Hampden Stadium- entering one of the hardest labour markets Scotland has seen. They will join the 25,000 young people already unemployed in Scotland.

Researchers warn that young workers have already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 22% of Scotland’s total workforce were furloughed in April, but 41% of young people in work in Scotland were furloughed over the same period- this is because they are disproportionately concentrated in the sectors worst affected.

IPPR Scotland also analysed new data which found that under 30s are already experiencing increased financial worries:

  • 1 in 4 say that they are ‘just about getting by’ or experiencing financial difficulty
  • 1 in 5 expect to be worse off in the future, compared to just 7% of young people in Scotland a year ago

Job insecurity and financial strain could be having serious consequences for young peoples’ mental health. In 2017-19, 1 in 5 young people in Scotland reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression. But in April of this year, that had almost doubled, to approaching 2 in 5.

To protect a generation of workers in Scotland from the serious consequences of unemployment and financial insecurity, IPPR Scotland say that a jobs guarantee fund is needed urgently, whether across the UK or as a standalone Scotland programme.

The fund would subsidise wages, provide a mix of formal learning and mentoring, creating flexible part-time and full-time jobs. They say that further investment will also be required to boost education and skills opportunities through apprenticeships, college and universities.

Rachel Statham, senior research fellow at IPPR Scotland, said: “A jobs guarantee fund is vital to ensure Scotland can make a swift recovery from COVID-19. As the COVID class of 2020 enter the world of work this year, they will face the toughest labour market we have seen for at least a generation. Without decisive action, we risk casting some 50,000 education leavers adrift.

“The Scottish Government has done a good job in reducing youth unemployment since the financial crash, but all of that progress and more could be undone over the coming months. We know that experiencing unemployment creates scarring effects that can harm young people’s employment and earnings prospects far into their futures. We must do everything we can to prevent a surge in youth unemployment that harms a generation of Scotland’s young people.

“We need to see a jobs guarantee fund in Scotland. The UK Government should act to introduce one with urgency- but if they fail to do so, then the Scottish Government should look to step in.”

  • Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.
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