A generation lost; a generation scared and wasted youth. These are just some reactions to the news that youth unemployment has risen to 853,000 in the last year.
These latest figures published earlier this year show that current levels of youth unemployment is at 18.8%, more than double that of the average age working population. The reality being that nearly a fifth of 16-24 year-olds in Scotland wake up every morning wondering if their country needs them..
According to Sir Ian Woods’s new report, Scotland’s vocational education system must be improved if youth unemployment is to fall. He launched the report aimed at getting more young Scots into work recommending that employers play a far bigger role in schools and colleges.
One company that prides itself on committing to the next generation of employees is subsea applications manufacturer Hydro Group.
Hydro Group cultivates a learning and progressive atmosphere, understanding the value of its people and realising their talent. The company invests heavily in training and apprenticeship schemes, developing personal knowledge and competency standards, which in turn, benefits the company as a whole.
Human resources director Irene Buxton explains that, with 22% of their staff under the age of 24, directors at Hydro Group agree with the recent report commissioned by Sir Ian Wood.
“The government continues to introduce more and more low-cost initiatives to assist young people find employment. In my opinion these are palliative measures for the long-term ailment of employers not providing real, meaningful and properly paid jobs. Employers should not wait for government handouts and conversely, the government should give realistic financial support.
“Of high importance for Hydro Group, is the policy that no employee starts on or below the national minimum wage. At Hydro Group we pride ourselves on paying employees a living wage, while covering costs for college fees and we also provide all personal protective and corporate clothing – it doesn’t come out of their wages. Of equal importance, in the days of zero hours and fixed term contracts, all of the Group’s contracts of employment are permanent, creating stability for each and every employee.”
Opportunities to enhance their skill sets are given to all members of staff; employees under the age of 21 have the option to attend day release at local colleges whilst still receiving full pay, and those over 21 have the opportunity to attend night classes or distance learning at Hydro Group’s expense.
Ms Buxton continues: “At Hydro Group we have trainees and apprentices in nearly every department. We have a ‘Grow our own’ policy for recruitment, taking on youngsters, developing and training them to go as far as possible within the company.
“The majority of oil & gas companies in the Grampian region create a culture of short-term contracts, paying premiums for staff on a temporary basis. This makes it extremely difficult for other companies, particularly SMEs, to recruit skilled staff.”
Following Sir Ian Wood’s report, the commission spent 18 months consulting with the oil and gas industry and education sector, looking at ways as to how the country’s system of vocational education could be improved.
Results highlighted that, with measures mirroring Hydro Group’s ethos, youth unemployment could be cut by 40%.
Scotland’s youth employment minister has said work will be done to take the recommendations forward, building bridges between school and college into business and industry.