Scottish Apprenticeship Week: the shadow of Brexit looms over the jobs market
Workforce planning is not an easy task amid Brexit uncertainties, as Scottish Apprenticeship Week gets underway
Brexit and the jobs market - istock
In a speech to the David Hume Institute last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked to specifically talk about Brexit.
Sturgeon said: “I’ve got to be frank with you in saying how disturbing I think it is that just 14 months away from the planned exit from the European Union, the UK Government’s plans still seem to be – and I am putting this as mildly as I can – in a state of chaos.”
She added: “When the impact of ending free movement within the EU is discussed, a lot of the focus tends to be on the immediate consequences for specific sectors of our economy. That’s very understandable. For many core public services, and key sectors for our economy, EU migration is absolutely crucial.
“The potential consequences of reduced migration to those sectors are very important. And they are certainly one reason – among many – why I have been so determined, ever since the referendum, to ensure the rights of EU citizens are given priority and protected, and that EU citizens know that Scotland welcomes the contribution they make here and we want them to stay and to keep making that contribution.
“That has not been implemented yet, and there are no plans on the part of the UK Government at this stage to do it. But I think these things have to be looked at again if we are to address these real challenges that we face.
“We also argue that students in Scotland should not count within the UK’s targets and will argue for a more distinctive approach on family migration. We believe that it is counterproductive to restrict the ability of British citizens to bring family members home. So these are concrete proposals we’ll put forward in the near future and I hope they meet with a constructive attitude.”
Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill is incompatible with the Scottish devolution settlement, the cross-party parliamentary committee concluded after taking evidence from experts.
The committee said that even if Clause 11 was designed as a transitional measure, it failed to fully respect the devolution settlement and the committee could not recommend legislative consent unless it was replaced or removed.
The bill refers to these as ‘retained EU law’ – a new legal concept introduced by the bill – and the committee’s report notes that the evidence heard by the committee suggested it would confuse the boundary between devolved and reserved issues and it will be difficult to identify which areas of the UK have derived from EU law, particularly as they diverge after Brexit.
The headline target in the Scottish Government’s ‘Developing the Young Workforce’ strategy was to reduce youth unemployment excluding those in full-time education by 40 per cent between 2014 and 2021.
“Our ‘Developing the Young Workforce’ programme has proven hugely successful, strengthening and diversifying our offer for young people as they progress through their education, alongside improving careers advice, work experience and Modern Apprenticeship opportunities.
“Our future focus will now be on expanding the range of opportunities available to young people. In particular, we will continue to build on both the successful expansion of our Modern Apprenticeship programme and the initial success of Foundation Apprenticeships and graduate level apprenticeships.
“Additionally, we [recently] announced Fair Start Scotland contracts up to the value of £96 million to create fairer employment support services, helping people facing barriers to enter the labour market and stay in work.”
Scotland’s employment rate increased over the year to 75 per cent but decreased by 0.2 percentage points over the quarter. 112,000 people were unemployed, with the unemployment rate at four per cent below the UK rate of 4.3 per cent.
“It is also encouraging to see youth unemployment and female employment rates continuing to outperform the rest of the UK.
“These results come despite the economic uncertainty caused by Brexit. We have been absolutely clear that the best option for Scotland’s economy and labour market is the one people voted for – remaining within the EU.”
Spanning 2017 to 2022, it outlines actions designed to inspire enthusiasm for STEM across all sectors of society.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said: “It is our ambition to build a modern and dynamic economy, so it is critical that Scotland recognises the value of, and achieves its full potential in STEM.
“The future is truly one of opportunity and we must ensure everyone is equipped and supported to make the most of fast-paced technological change around us and the job opportunities this generates, enabling Scotland to become a STEM nation.”
• Improving the supply of STEM talent to the teaching profession
• Addressing unconscious bias and gender stereotyping
• Increasing access to public science engagement events
• Delivering up-to-date advice and information on STEM careers
Meanwhile, work is still being done to close the gender gap in business.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “The gender gap, although narrowing, is still an unfortunate reality. That is why I am pleased to announce Scottish Government funding for projects to support, encourage and develop female entrepreneurs.
The projects to be funded are:
• Business Women Scotland’s #BWSLiveEvents programme will receive £60,000 for events across Scotland to bring together female entrepreneurs for networking and support
• The Ingenious and Enterprising Women in Scotland programme will receive £50,000. Led by the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the programme will support female early career researchers in industry and academia from across Scotland to develop entrepreneurial skills to realise the full potential of their ideas
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