East Ayrshire Council’s commitment to developing the talents and career prospects of its young people was mapped out at this week’s Cabinet meeting, when councillors approved plans to expand activities and resources in line with the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee scheme for the year ahead.
This followed the announcement on 29 June 2021 of funding of nearly £1.2m of funding for 2021/22, which came on top of around £740k of funding already allocated in 2020/21, to allow the scheme to be set up, and recognises the need to combat the additional challenges for employers and prospective employees facing the end of furlough and covid recovery which have had a particular impact on both employers and young people.
The initial funding was used to support 100 of the area’s most disengaged young people with tailored mentoring and help from additional staff to help them move towards employment. This allowed staff to focus on individual needs and provide substantial aftercare to build on any progress made.
The £750k also paid to set up 40 supported apprenticeships with East Ayrshire Council, the Health and Social Care Partnership and a range of third sector and private organisations.
The new funding will allow salary support for employers to be expanded, which will be particularly important in the face of rising costs and apprenticeship pay rates, which vary according to the age of the participant and the specialism offered.
Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Lifelong Learning, Education, Skills and Culture welcomed the news saying: “We already have many young people receiving support through the Young Person’s Guarantee and this number is set to rise steeply now that we have the staff and resources in place and covid restrictions are lifting.
“Although the funding is available for a limited period, those who gain places in apprenticeships will be supported right through until those are complete. Together with the new National Entitlement Card scheme, which will come into effect from January 2022, it will make getting apprenticeships and travelling to work and college much easier for our most vulnerable young people.
“We’ll also be using some of the Young Person’s Guarantee funding to expand the range and availability of our Foundation Apprenticeships in our schools, smoothing the pathway into meaningful employment and expanding opportunities for school leavers.
“Another bonus of this funding is that it’s allowing us to set up a bank register of suitably qualified people who can complement our existing Young Person’s Guarantee work coach team. This will enable us to improve our outreach to young people in our outlying communities who struggle to travel to larger centres.
“For those who join the bank register, there will be real opportunities for them to increase their training, knowledge and experience, giving them greater chances of taking up full time jobs with the council when vacancies arise.
“For employers, an incentive of £5000 towards the costs of employing an eligible apprentice will be available on condition they are resident in East Ayrshire, aged 16-24 and are registered on the Skills Development Scotland system before 31 March 2022.
“So for young people training to become apprentices, those who are ready to start apprenticeships, for potential work coaches, and employers, there’s something to help everyone in this Young Person’s Guarantee. As part of our overall community wealth building agenda, it’s a very welcome addition to our portfolio of employability interventions which aim to improve life chances, prosperity and provide a skilled workforce for the future.”
For further information on the Young Person’s Guarantee and supported employment and Modern Apprenticeships in East Ayrshire visit our employability webpages and for regular email updates sign up with our StayConnected service