A group of industry experts have submitted an action plan to limit unemployment caused by the economic impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The report from a sub-group of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, with representatives from business and Scotland’s skills agencies, was commissioned by the Scottish Government in May.
Their recommendations, which will be considered by the Scottish Government alongside last week’s report from the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, include:
an expansion of online opportunities for young people to find information on future jobs and training
enhanced help for those facing redundancy, including the reshaping of the PACE redundancy support scheme with more frontline advisers, potentially through private sector secondment, volunteers and tailored support for businesses of all sizes
maximising the flexibility of colleges and universities to offer short courses so people can learn critical skills needed by employers, including digital, automation, artificial intelligence and the transition to a net-zero economy
assistance to support employee retention, including a ‘toolkit’ of measures to introduce new innovative work practices and upskill or reskill staff
short placement schemes to give work experience to under-25s who have been out of work for six months
expansion of apprentice provision, including more off-the-job training opportunities where employers cannot accommodate learning in the workplace, and virtual learning in schools.
Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Skills and Fair Work said:
“I welcome this report and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in producing it.
“The economic impact of COVID-19 continues to be severe, and one of the most concerning aspects is the risk of increased and potentially sustained unemployment. That is something we will do everything we can to prevent.
“The Scottish Government is already taking decisive action to help the economy through this crisis, including a £2.3 billion package of business support, and a £230 million economic stimulus package, plus significant levels of support to assist the safe restart of the economy.
“This report, along with the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, gives us some valuable ideas for how we can provide workers – particularly young people – with the skills and opportunities they need to be able to play an active and fulfilling role in the workforce. We will now carefully consider each of the recommendations and respond fully in due course.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“How do we limit unemployment due to the coronavirus crisis has been the million dollar question, so this well-considered guidance will be hugely important in helping the Scottish Government determine its course.
“The fact remains that Scotland has limited powers as employment itself is reserved to the UK Government – hence their decision to end furlough earlier than we would have liked to see in Scotland and their decision to bring back benefits sanctions as of last week.
“However, we do have an opportunity to help shape a business climate that supports especially young people into work, in line with the recommendations of the Economic Advisory Group which were published two weeks ago.
“I look forward to seeing how the strategy will be developed now that these pointers have been identified.”