Careers Scotland

24th March 2006 at 00:00
Like most careers advisers and Unison members, I read with interest your articles relating to the future of Careers Scotland within the Scottish Enterprise network and - of equal importance - the agency's involvement in supporting young people viewed as not in employment, education and training (the NEET group).

Irrespective of any future "rehousing" of Careers Scotland, there can be no denying that there have been several tensions in the "uneasy marriage", as you put it. You mention pay, rightly, as being one source of strain and I'm sure many of your readers would also have grave concerns if their employers imposed a performance- related pay system upon them.

They would quite rightly express concerns about the objectiveness and transparency of a system that paid 70 per cent of senior managers a 7.5 per cent bonus compared to a meagre 12 per cent of the admin staff, as happened with the Scottish Enterprise pay system in 2004.

Your article quite rightly states that Careers Scotland has a pivotal role to play in reducing the numbers considered NEET. However, our members believe that recent actions by Scottish Enterprise will make our ability to encourage this group to access Careers Scotland services more difficult.

As of April 1, Careers Scotland will no longer accept and administer vacancies for jobs, employed status skillseekers or modern apprenticeships.

This decision has angered members who have many years' experience of working with and supporting those having difficulty securing a post-school opportunity.

Despite our disbelief and protests that this decision will have a detrimental effect on our ability to encourage those viewed as NEET to retain contact with Careers Scotland, we have been advised it will actually strengthen our referral and placing service.

Whilst fully appreciating that all public bodies have to consider how best to utilise their resources, we believe Careers Scotland dedicates no more than 2 per cent of its 1,100 staff to the actual vacancy-handling process.

Many Unison members believe that this decision will have a negative effect on young people who view Careers Scotland as the agency which provides them with access to real jobs and training.

Careers Scotland should be channelling its energies into lobbying the Scottish Executive to properly fund the continuation (if not the enhancement) of this integral service. We will continue to raise this matter with the Executive as we believe the advertising and handling of what many young people view as more desirable opportunities has a positive impact on minimising the proportion of 16-19s who actually become NEET in the first place.

In the longer term, our members are also concerned about the damage this decision does to the reputation of Careers Scotland in the eyes of educationlists and other external agencies who consider us as experts in the area of post-school opportunities.

James Corry

Branch secretary Unison Scottish Enterprise careers and development branch

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