On Thursday 11th January, MSPs debated the third annal progress report on the Scottish Government’s Developing the Young Workforce Target to reduce unemployment.

The halfway point of the programme’s seven-year period has been marked by a milestone achievement, with the headline target to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021 being met four years early. Not only does this mean that Scotland has a lower youth unemployment rate than the United Kingdom as a whole, but it is now consistently among the best performers in the entire European Union.

SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, used her contribution to the debate to highlight examples of the great work that has been done by the regional group, DYW Ayrshire, over the past year.

A range of collaborative working has been developed between local schools and employers – from Martin & Sons Builders visiting St Winnings Primary School, to the Higher Grounds Coffee Bar training facility at Auchenharvie Academy, and the partnership that has developed between Irvine’s Hallmark Hotel and Greenwood Academy.

Ruth also underlined how 2018, as the first ever Year of Young People, provides an excellent opportunity to build on existing achievements.

Speaking in the debate, Ruth said:

“As the first ever Year of Young People, 2018 provides an excellent opportunity to build on our existing achievements and to continue improving the life chances of Scotland’s young people, whatever their background.

I welcome the fact that the headline target of the strategy to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021 has been met four years early.

That is positive progress and it provides a solid base on which we can continue to build. With continued strong partnership working between employers, schools, colleges and universities, supported by the regional DYW group, I am confident that we will see those improvements over the coming years.

The Year of Young People also serves as an important reminder that, when we are talking about developing the workforce or meeting employer needs, we are fundamentally speaking about the lives and experiences of individual young people.

Yes, the impact on the economy and on employers is an important dimension of today’s debate, but more important is enriching young people’s lives and aspirations by giving them a variety of ways to succeed and to fulfil their potential.”