Scottish Labour has said a “weak” youth jobs scheme will not be enough to stem the tide of unemployment as the pandemic comes to a close.
The Young Person’s Guarantee was launched in November, and – as of March – has created opportunities for 18,000 young people.
The scheme aims to ensure every young person between the age of 16 and 24 is able to get into work, training, a placement or volunteering.
But workforce statistics show that, between February and April, 30,000 young people were out of work.
Labour finance spokesman Daniel Johnson said: “It’s abundantly clear that the SNP’s vague and weak Young Person’s Guarantee is not fit for purpose.
“We face a tidal wave of youth unemployment, but the SNP’s flagship programme only has space for a fraction of the number of unemployed young people, has no metrics to gauge its success, and includes unpaid and voluntary work.
“Frankly, this SNP government does not have the ambition or the political will to tackle unemployment.
“In contrast to the timidity of the SNP, Labour’s plans would guarantee every young person in Scotland a job.
“Today I am urging the SNP to wake up to the crisis on the horizon and listen to Labour, trade unions and businesses so that we can protect the future of the young people of Scotland.”
The Scottish Government announced in March it would invest a further £70 million in the guarantee, £45 million of which will be used for training and employment incentives, while £10 million was made available to colleges support 5,000 shorter fast-track courses.
Further and higher education minister Jamie Hepburn said: “We know that young people have been badly affected by the pandemic and are determined to do everything we can to support them.”
He added: “Industry leadership is at the heart of the Guarantee and (Scottish Government adviser) Sandy Begbie has led an ambitious plan to support Scotland’s young people enter work, building on the track record of Scotland’s youth employment strategy which achieved its target for reducing youth unemployment four years ahead of schedule.
“By working collaboratively with industry, young people and partners we guarantee every young person a place in education, training or employment. We will shortly set out our plans for monitoring and evaluation of the Guarantee.”