THE NEW Deal for the young unemployed is beginning to provide real jobs in Scotland, according to the Unemployment Unit, the independent research organisation. Scotland is showing better than many parts of the United Kingdom.
Paul Convery, director of the London-based agency, said: "It's extremely unusual for us to praise a Government scheme. This must be about the first time ever."
The New Deal has been heavily criticised but a study across the UK shows that 18 per cent of entrants have gone into jobs, even some living in the economic blackspots.
Most of Scotland is above average with Skye and Lochalsh topping the list at 50 per cent. Other rural locations such as Orkney, Lochaber, Moray, Strathspey and Badenoch, and Inverness and Nairn are all above 30 per cent.
The poorest Scottish record is in Glasgow where 15 per cent have found jobs. But the city's record is still above that of many other depressed areas in the UK.
The programme was originally designed for long-term unemployed people aged 18-24 but has been extended to the over-25s and aims to offer a job, full-time education or training, a voluntary sector place or work in the environment.
Mr Convery said: "We're optimistic about this programme because it's pretty much about the right design. This is mainly about jobs. The Government has shown a willingness to listen, adapt provision and tailor it to the local situation."
He believed the involvement and commitment of employers was crucial. They appeared to believe they were getting a "fair deal" out of the Government.
Employers receive Pounds 60 a month for six months and Pounds 750 for training staff that leads to qualifications.
"The New Deal has got more political credibility than a lot of schemes that preceded it," Mr Convery added.