“A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People” sets out a range of actions to support disabled people into work. We will also introduce a one-year transitional service through a newly devolved employability programme for disabled people from April 2017, to provide continuity of service for those who need it most. It will be called work first Scotland and will deliver employment support for up to 3,300 disabled people. People with learning disabilities and autism will be eligible for the service. In addition, there is a package of specialist employer support tailored to the needs of individuals, which is being delivered nationally by the open doors consortium, which is a partnership made up of Scotland’s leading special employment providers. Enable Scotland is part of the consortium and we look forward to meeting in the new year.
Is the minister aware of the Furnishing Service, which is based in East Kilbride? It is an accredited living-wage employer that offers work experience schemes with Sanderson high school, which is a special needs senior school. The work experience programmes have turned out to be beneficial and are bringing out the great abilities that many people who attend Sanderson high school have. Would he consider visiting the Furnishing Service and Sanderson high school to see examples of the support that can be given, as a way of encouraging other employers to do likewise in their communities?
We have in place our developing the young workforce strategy, which is designed to encourage far better interaction between the school environment and employers right across the country. We are seeing that happen increasingly and I believe that it is important for all Scotland’s pupils to be able to have better access to the labour market, but particularly for those who are furthest removed from that labour market. In that regard, I congratulate Sanderson high school and the Furnishing Service. As Linda Fabiani has said, they have set a positive example, and I encourage others in East Kilbride and South Lanarkshire and across Scotland to follow that example. I would be very happy to visit Sanderson high school and the Furnishing Service at some point in the new year.