Funding boost will help Falkirk’s youngsters get ready for work

The Gairdoch Project was just one successful modern apprenticeship scheme organised by the council.
The Gairdoch Project was just one successful modern apprenticeship scheme organised by the council.

The drive to help young people across the district get ready for the world of work when they leave the classroom has been given a cash boost.

It has been confirmed Falkirk Council will share a slice of a Scottish Government ‘cash cake’ aimed at reducing youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021.

Over the next six years a fund worth £5.8 million will be invested across the country to give teenagers the best possible chance of finding a job.

While the council’s share is a ‘modest’ £151,000, there is no doubt every penny will be put to good use to help the next generation into fulfilling careers.

Pamela Smith, Falkirk Council’s employment and training manager, says the extra finance will be invested wisely.

She said: “We pride ourselves on the work we’ve done to help our young people find employment and take the first steps of their careers.

“We first provided employability support for young people as far back as 2004 and in the years since then have been recognised as the best large employer of Modern Apprentices in Scotland.

“This is a reputation we aim to uphold by continuing to create and offer a wide range of opportunities for school leavers.”

This year the number of youngsters successfully managing to find a “positive destination” after handing their books back was over 92 per cent - the highest figure since records began.

At the same time the number of young people in receipt of job seekers allowance had dropped from a peak of 11.4 per cent in August 2011 to a record low of 2.5 per cent last month - better than the Scottish average.

Over the last four years the council has provided positive support to over 1000 Modern Apprentices, giving them a taste of work across 40 occupations from childcare to civil engineering. Since 2011 the council has also supported over 50 graduates.

Working closely with the Scottish Government, town hall experts have been able to offer over 600 employer recruitment incentives to help small and medium sized businesses recruit young people and - impressively - 95 per cent of those who have completed their training programme with the support of the council have gone on to secure further employment.

The council also delivers pre-apprenticeship opportunities as a stepping stone to modern apprenticeships that have created an additional 500 opportunities for young people.

It will use the additional investment to strengthen links between schools, colleges and employers, continue developing work-based learning and career pathways for all young people and support vulnerable groups towards employment.

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, said: “Work to reduce youth unemployment is well underway as part of our youth employment strategy. Latest figures show it was at 363,000 last month, the highest recorded since the same period 10 years ago.

“We have already funded Skills Development Scotland to provide MAs and enhanced careers advice, but we need to keep up the momentum. Local government has a key role to play in preparing young men and women for employment and is already taking forward a range of activity to help them fulfil their potential.

“The additional funding will allow Falkirk Council to offer even more support to their young people and further boost Scotland’s economic growth.”