No, thank you.
Mr Henderson went on to say:
“We also welcome the additional resources that are being allocated to the college sector for 2015-16. We look forward to engaging with the Government on how we can use these resources in areas such as expanding school and college partnerships. Investing in the college sector is investing in Scotland’s future prosperity and supporting economic recovery.”
Scotland’s schools for the future programme has 13 schools that are already operational and nine that are under construction, and there will be 67 new or refurbished schools by March 2018. The draft budget highlights that more than £8 billion of investment will take place from 2014-15 to 2015-16 to continue that investment-led recovery strategy.
That strategy has helped the Scottish Government to achieve the highest level ever recorded for school leavers heading to a positive destination. The percentage of school leavers who entered employment, training or further and higher education reached 91 per cent for the year to July 2013. The Educational Institute of Scotland general secretary, Larry Flanagan, said:
“The very high percentage of young people moving on to a positive destination when they leave school is good news for Scotland and reflects the strong performance of our comprehensive education system. Our young people deserve the best start in life, and our schools are continuing to equip pupils with the education and skills that they need to move on to further and higher education, into training programmes, or straight into employment.”
The ability of our young people has been recognised in the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development programme for international student assessment—or PISA—rankings, which rate Scotland as doing at least as well as, if not better than, a number of leading world economies in literacy, numeracy and science.
The latest PISA results from 2012 reveal that the achievement gap between rich and poor students in Scotland has closed in maths, reading and science. However, it is not only on the youth employment front that things are improving. In today’s papers, there is the news that the number of women in work has hit a 21-year high at the same time as overall unemployment in Scotland has fallen.
The number of women in employment has reached more than 1.2 million, and this budget will help to sustain and improve that position by investing more than £190 million to fully fund 125 additional hours of early learning and childcare. That will mean that free nursery provision will rise from 475 hours to 600 hours per year.
Since 2007, with the limited powers that the Scottish Parliament has, the Scottish Government has been able to create jobs and boost the economy at a time of unprecedented cuts to our budget from Westminster, but Westminster’s austerity agenda is holding Scotland back. The Office for Budget Responsibility has stated that the UK’s economic strategy is “unsustainable” and that the UK will run a fiscal deficit in each of the next 50 years. The OBR states:
“In the absence of offsetting tax increases or spending cuts this would widen budget deficits over time and eventually put public sector net debt on an unsustainable upward trajectory.”
Only with independence, where we have control over the economy, can we do things better and more effectively, bringing about lasting growth and making Scotland a fairer country.