Former PM calls for action
Brown urges Tory and SNP unity to help young Scots
Gordon Brown: ‘this goes way beyond party politics’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has today urged the Scottish and UK governments to set aside their differences to help avoid a jobs crisis among the young.
He wants them to work together to back a Scottish Jobs Guarantee that provides hope for 16-24 year olds facing a winter of unemployment brought on by the Covid pandemic
According to the Alliance for full Employment, 100,000 young Scots – one million across the UK – face winter on the dole.
Mr Brown’s call comes as Professor Paul Gregg, a specialist on the labour market, publishes a report claiming that one million 16-24 year olds across the UK are facing unemployment and will be in need of support over the coming months.
The Scottish government yesterday attempted to load all the blame for the crisis on Westminster, with the SNP’s employment spokesman Chris Stephens MP saying the report’s warning should be a “wake-up call” for the Tory government.
“The coronavirus crisis has had a devastating impact on the economy, jobs, businesses and people’s livelihoods. At this critical time, it is vital that the UK government strengthens support, rather than scrapping it,” he said.
But the Alliance pointed out that in Scotland responsibility for youth employment is shared between the UK and Scottish governments and is urging them to work together.
Mr Brown said: “This winter, 100,000 young Scots in need of support to find a job, or they face the prospect of a winter on the dole.
“This is a shocking figure, and a reminder of the toll that the pandemic is taking. As someone who lived through the 1980s, I fear the impact on a generation of young people could be beyond anything we witnessed back then.”
He added: “We desperately need a plan… that reflects the unprecedented scale of this crisis with a jobs guarantee that ensures every young person has the chance of training or work.
“This goes way beyond party politics – on behalf of every young person in Scotland, I implore them to set aside their differences and act before it is too late.
“We cannot allow the Covid generation to become Scotland’s forgotten generation. They need support now.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “These shocking figures show that Scotland is facing its most severe youth unemployment crisis since the height of Thatcherism in the 1980s.
“Scottish Labour has been advocating a Jobs Guarantee Scheme since the economic impact of Covid-19 became clear.
“It’s clear from Gordon Brown’s report that the real priority is about whether young people are going to have jobs or not.”
The UK government has pledged to provide an ‘Opportunity Guarantee’ so that every young person gets the chance of an apprenticeship or an in-work placement.
However, Professor Gregg says today that the measures proposed by the government – such as its ‘Kickstarter’ programme – need to be radically upscaled to meet that guarantee and ensure if the country avoids creating a new lost generation.
Professor Gregg’s report shows that before the pandemic, 700,000 young people were needing help securing work across the UK.
A surge in the number of school leavers unable to find a job, and the prospect of more job cuts when Furlough ends in two weeks time is expected to push that figure to over 1 million.
In Scotland, the latest figures show that 44,000 16-24 year olds are officially now unemployed. A further 58,000 young people are registered as economically inactive, excluding those in full time education.