And they're off: to the best possible start to working life

17th August 2012 at 01:00
But getting young people on to the career ladder requires collective effort

As teachers, many readers of TESS will have taught pupils who needed extra help and opportunities to meet their potential and find their way into the right job.

My role in the Scottish government is to tackle this difficult issue and make sure our young people have the opportunities they need to step on to the career ladder, particularly in this economic climate.

As we enter the new school year and the next parliamentary session, the time is right to reflect on how far we've come, but also look ahead to what we still need to do.

Two productive parliamentary debates drew in a range of views from MSPs and I want to see more cross-party support for ensuring that our young people get the best start to their working lives.

I have set in motion a range of initiatives aimed at improving the life chances of youngsters in Scotland, including Opportunities for All, a unique guarantee of a place in education or training for all 16- to 19- year-olds.

Already, more than 87 per cent of our school-leavers are in positive destinations, be it work, college, university or a training course. Scotland also still has the highest rate of young people in employment in the UK, and 90 per cent of graduates from our universities have secured employment or gone into further study - the highest in the UK.

Figures from the Employer Skills Survey earlier this year show that two- thirds of companies in Scotland that recruit young people straight from education are satisfied with their skills and abilities - a clear demonstration that young Scots are ready for the workplace.

I want to ensure that every young person seeking employment has the skills required and there are a range of measures in place to achieve that.

The introduction of Curriculum for Excellence, in particular the senior phase, will help a new generation of young Scots leave school better placed than ever to succeed in the global jobs market.

The Certificate for Work Readiness will also help young people demonstrate to prospective employers that they have the right skills. And visiting the My World of Work site will help them with their CVs.

As Scotland's schools settle down to a new academic year, thousands of young Scots will have received their exam results, younger children like my son will be taking their first steps into school education and most third-year pupils will be starting work on the new National qualifications.

I want to ensure that we keep talking up Scotland's young people and doing everything we can to get them ready for work, whether they are due to leave school in 10 years or 10 months. Angela Constance, Minister for youth employment.

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