Apprenticeships

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2011.

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Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

5. To ask the First Minister, in light of comments by Sir Tom Hunter that Scotland is facing a tsunami of unemployment and that the people of Scotland deserve better, whether the Scottish Government will now enable every qualified young person to have access to an apprenticeship. (S3F-2959)

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

Tackling youth unemployment is a priority for the Scottish Government, as it should be for every single member in the chamber. I hope that everyone will join me in welcoming the fact that over the next financial year we have provided additional investment that will deliver almost 100,000 training opportunities across Scotland. That includes a record number of 25,000 modern apprenticeships: the highest number ever available in Scotland.

In that light, I find it incomprehensible that the Labour Party should have chosen to vote against a budget that contained such progressive measures to tackle the scourge of youth unemployment.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

I am glad that the First Minister has indeed followed Labour’s lead on apprenticeships to some extent. He clearly still has some way to go—[Interruption.]

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

Does he share Tom Hunter’s concern that there are 35,000 young people who are not in employment, education or training? Will he now also back Labour’s new green deal, in order not only to insulate thousands of houses and tackle fuel poverty, but to give many of those young people access to skills and work?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond First Minister of Scotland, Leader, Scottish National Party

Let us talk first about Labour’s lead, as Lewis Macdonald described it. In 2006-07, the Labour-led Administration offered 15,000 modern apprenticeships in Scotland. The figure of 25,000 this coming year is not only a record, but a 66 per cent increase on what Labour led. Lewis Macdonald may describe that as following a Labour lead, but I think that it is a very substantial and welcome bonus, and an increase in hope for young people throughout Scottish society.

As far as other aspects go, Lewis Macdonald should perhaps agree and accept that when it comes to the green economy, the Government has been groundbreaking in its approach and has put forward double the number of approvals in renewable production systems that the previous Administration managed. We therefore do not just lead the Labour Party: in some of those technologies, Scotland now leads the world.