Figures released last week show that under the SNP record numbers of Scotland’s school leavers are going on to positive destinations in further or higher education, work or training.
Since the SNP came into power in 2007, the number of young people in a positive destination three months after leaving school has increased from 86.6% in 2006/07 to 92.9% in 2014/15. Furthermore, more young people are staying in education, work or training, with the number of leavers in a positive destination after nine months increasing from 84% in 2007/08 to 91.7% in 2013/14.
In government the SNP is committed to delivering for Scotland’s young people. We’re exceeding our targets to deliver 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships a year, helping both to train and equip young people with the skills they need to succeed and to bring youth employment up to a ten year high. We’ve also maintained full-time places at Scotland’s colleges, with the number of students completing full-time higher education qualifications at college rising by 22% since 2008/09 to a record high, and appointed the UK’s first Minister for Youth Employment.
Fundamentally we believe that access to education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. That’s why, in order to allow more young people from lower income families to continue in education, the SNP has protected the Educational Maintenance Allowance and expanded eligibility for it to a total of 57,000 school pupils and college students. By contrast, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats chose to scrap the Allowance south of the border. It’s also why the SNP is committed to keeping university education free. We scrapped Labour’s Graduate Endowment Fee (their back-door tuition fees for Scottish students), introduced a guaranteed minimum income for students and brought in tough new widening access targets for our universities, in order to help more young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in our society into higher education.
It’s clear that the SNP has a solid record of achieving for young people, but we cannot be complacent. That’s why we’ve committed to reducing youth unemployment by 40% by 2021, and to increase the number of Modern Apprenticeships a year to 30,000 to help do so. The SNP is ambitious for the future of our young people – the biggest investment we can make in Scotland’s future is in our young people – and if re-elected in May we will work tirelelessly to meet these ambitions.
Every young person in Scotland should have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Under the SNP, we are getting ever closer to making this a reality.
Picture from the First Minister of Scotland