Annabelle Ewing MSP

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Annabelle Ewing MSP

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  • Member for: Mid Scotland and Fife
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Annabelle is a member of the following Committees:

Annabelle is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by The Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment (Annabelle Ewing)

Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

I thank Patricia Ferguson for her comment, which is a fair one. Indeed, there is a recognition that there are a number of people who are further away from the jobs market who do need support. Our refreshed youth employment strategy is intended to provide the support needed to ensure that all young people have an opportunity to get into the workplace.

Skills Development Scotland has been working with the Scottish funding council, local authorities and others to develop regional skills assessments. That work will help to improve understanding of the skills and labour market demands across Scotland. Last month, SDS published a series of 11 regional skills assessments covering the length and breadth of Scotland, including the Glasgow region and Glasgow and Clyde Valley. The collaborative approach employed in developing the assessments reiterates the Scottish Government’s commitment to work with our employers to ensure that our skills and education systems are closely aligned with economic opportunities.

Mention was made of the Commonwealth games legacy, which is also of relevance in this context. Members will be aware that the Scottish Government and its key partners began planning a legacy fit for the Commonwealth games back in 2008. Central to those plans were our and our partners’ ambitions to increase movement for Scottish people into employment, training and volunteering, increase the growth of Scottish businesses and help Scotland to attract new business investments. As part of that, the Scottish Government has provided £125 million to Clyde Gateway since 2007, helping to remediate land, create office and industrial space, attract inward investment and generate job opportunities in the east end of Glasgow.

In addition, the £500 million spent on the construction and refurbishment of games venues and the athletes’ village in the east end of Glasgow over the six years leading to 2014 has, on average, supported 1,000 jobs and contributed £52 million to Scotland’s gross value added in each year. Furthermore, 500 jobs, including 168 apprenticeships, were provided for the long-term unemployed and education leavers on Commonwealth games infrastructure-related contracts, as well as opportunities for investment from local businesses and social enterprises.

Clyde Gateway also seeks to support local people to access the opportunities that regeneration of the area is bringing. Community benefit clauses form a mandatory part of contracts that are delivered by Clyde Gateway, providing jobs and training for local people. Where jobs cannot be provided due to the specialist nature of the work, alternative community benefits are agreed with the contractor.

It is also worth noting that Clyde Gateway is delivering a range of employment and training projects to support people into work, many for the first time, and it has agreed a joint action plan with Skills Development Scotland to support the specific employability and training needs in the area. That perhaps covers the concern that Ms Ferguson expressed.

I mentioned the youth employment strategy that we published on Monday, which responds to the report by Sir Ian Wood and his commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce. In the debate that we had this afternoon, we set out a radical plan to offer young people the skills and knowledge that they need to move from education into the world of work. I agree with Paul Martin that all of us, as parliamentarians, have a responsibility to do what we can with the powers that we have in the Parliament to ensure that every young person has a chance to make their way in life. That is certainly a duty that I take very seriously indeed.

The milestones over the next six years are clear and ambitious. We have committed to taking the action that is needed to meet our ambitious target of reducing youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021. The Government has already committed £12 million this year—and £16.6 million is planned for 2015-16—to support and develop the plans that are outlined in the implementation plan. That funding demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that the resources are in place to make real our vision of a world-class vocational education system. We will improve the options for young people to help them to get into sustainable jobs that will drive economic growth and so reduce youth unemployment to the levels of the best-performing countries in Europe. The programme aims to achieve systemic change across schools, colleges, training provision and employers, underpinned by consistent and sustained support from this Government.

Those actions will sit alongside our existing successful actions to tackle youth unemployment. They include the opportunities for all programme, which is a commitment to offer a place in education or training to 16 to 19-year-olds who need it, and our modern apprenticeships programme. We are continuing to deliver 25,000 modern apprenticeship starts a year and we plan to go further by increasing the target to 30,000 by 2020.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity tonight to respond to Mr Martin’s debate. I stress that, although much has been achieved and developments such as the highlighted one at Glasgow Fort are important to drive recovery, there is still a great deal to do. The member can be assured that we will use every possible opportunity for Government, local government, businesses, employers, social enterprises, the third sector and the people of Scotland to work together to ensure that we maximise job creation and apprenticeship opportunities in Glasgow’s east end and, indeed, across Scotland.

Meeting closed at 17:28.  

Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
The Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment (Annabelle Ewing)

I congratulate Paul Martin on securing this members’ business debate tonight. His entreaty for some last-minute Christmas shopping will be noted in the Official Report of the debate, which I hope will be pored over avidly tomorrow by our colleagues, who might be tempted to proceed directly to the Fort to get their last-minute Christmas presents.

I welcome the expansion of the Fort shopping centre in the east end of Glasgow and in particular the opportunities for jobseekers that the expansion will create. I thank the member for Glasgow Provan for highlighting the hugely important issue of job creation and, therefore, apprenticeship opportunities—points that John Mason and Patricia Ferguson took up. I will focus on a number of issues of relevance to those issues.

As far as skills training and access to the jobs market is concerned, it is worth noting that the most recent United Kingdom Commission for Employment and Skills survey outlines a number of key strengths in skills and training in Scotland, including positive feedback on the work readiness of our young people. The survey found that young people in Scotland are the best prepared for work in the UK and that the situation in relation to skills gaps is improving. However, we want more firms to play a part in supporting our people towards fair and sustainable employment, and our efforts to achieve that will be stepped up further in the coming year in the context of our refreshed youth employment strategy.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

This has actually been a very consensual debate. [Interruption.] I could not possibly repeat what the cabinet secretary just said.

I look forward to working closely with all members from across the chamber who I know, in their hearts, support the opportunity for our young people to have a chance in life. That is what they want and that is what we parliamentarians have a duty to deliver.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

It does our young people no service whatever to make misleading comparisons.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

I am afraid that I am running out of time, and I have already taken an intervention.

It is important that schools and colleges work closely together to deliver vocational education for our young people.

On the important issue of parity of esteem, I simply say that of course there is parity of esteem and that the vocational opportunities are designed to give our young people an additional opportunity at school, and are not to be at the expense of any other academic opportunities.

We work closely with colleges. We have heard the usual claims, from the Labour front bench in particular, about college numbers. Of course, we have in fact maintained student places at 116,000 full-time equivalent places. I say gently to Mr Findlay that it would, on the odd occasion, be useful for him to compare apples with apples. [Interruption.]



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

That pilot project is designed to get more care leavers into modern apprenticeships, and is run in conjunction with Who Cares? Scotland, Action for Children Scotland, Barnardo’s and Quarriers.

There is, of course, a particular role for public bodies to play. Sir Ian’s report recognised the potential for public bodies to be exemplars in supporting the education and training system in general, and in recruiting young people. In that regard, the cabinet secretary has written to the chief executives of all public bodies to encourage them to develop an invest in youth plan that will set out what they will do to support the development of our young workforce. We will monitor the performance of those public bodies through their corporate plans and by assessing the number that achieve the important accreditation of the investors in young people accolade.

Local government is, of course, a key stakeholder, and we have worked closely with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities at every stage of the programme. I look forward to continuing that partnership approach. COSLA is represented on our programme board and jointly chairs our national advisory group. I thank COSLA for all the hard work that it has done to secure the formulation for implementation of the Wood commission report.

Schools are also important. We have had an interesting discussion about the role of schools and, in particular, about the fact that the implementation strategy must involve children at a younger age, including at primary school. I support the comments that members made in that regard.

It is axiomatic that schools should work closely with colleges, but it is essential to the success of the youth employment strategy.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

I suggest to Liz Smith that that is not, in fact, the case. Curriculum for excellence gives us the flexibility that schools need and have been asking for, as far as I am aware. It is surely all about equipping young people with the skills that they need for learning for life and for work.

The Wood commission’s report gives us a blueprint from which to progress. The commission was made up of talented and passionate people, and their continued involvement, through a range of groups and networks, will be a real asset to everybody who is involved in implementation. That is why the cabinet secretary and I are pleased to announce that Sir Ian has agreed to join the national advisory group in order to ensure that we continue on the right track in the coming years.

We will not allow the programme to lose any momentum, and we will use the breadth of expertise on our programme board and our national advisory group, as well as that on the national invest in young people group, to drive progress and shape implementation in the coming years. However, as has been said, the Government cannot do that on its own. That is why we will look to the talents of people across Scotland—and across Parliament—to support this endeavour. In that regard, I am appreciative of the broadly supportive comments that we have heard today from the Conservative front bench, from Liam McArthur, from Malcolm Chisholm and from others. It is important that we all work together to secure the objectives.

The important issue of the advancement of equalities was raised by a number of members. It is right to say that we are absolutely determined to ensure that our plans encompass all young people, and we will work with all partners and stakeholders to ensure that the focus now moves to what a person can do, rather than what they cannot do. In that respect, it might interest Stewart Maxwell to know that there is a pilot project that is looking to get more care leavers—[Interruption.]



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
The Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment (Annabelle Ewing)

I am pleased that we have been able to set out our implementation plans and refreshed strategy that will support our young people better for employment. As members have heard, we have a positive vision for Scotland’s young people and for our schools, colleges and employers, as well as for teachers and all the others who work with Scotland’s young people every day. It is a seven-year national programme on which we will report our progress annually so that we can all keep track of how the Scottish Government is doing against its ambitions. Our commitment to young people is clear.

We have heard about the important issue of narrowing the attainment gap in schools. Although that is, in the first place, a matter for the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, I note that the First Minister has taken a keen interest in the subject and regards it as a priority for the Scottish Government. Initiatives are already under way and others are planned, including the appointment of an attainment adviser for each local authority and the read, write, count campaign on literacy and numeracy, which is aimed at primary 1 to 3.

We have heard about the ambitious target to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021. Mr Findlay accused the Government of not being ambitious enough in its targets, but in fact—as he will know from having read the Wood commission recommendations closely—we have taken our lead from Sir Ian and his commission on that. Our target will put us in the top five nations in Europe. I suggest that, by any measure, we do not lack ambition for our young people—far to the contrary.

I turn to our ambitious target to increase the number of modern apprenticeships to 30,000 a year by 2020. The review shows that currently the majority of modern apprenticeships—some 65 per cent—are at level 3 or above. A Skills Development Scotland survey showed that 92 per cent of modern apprenticeship completers have been in work for six months or more, which Stewart Maxwell referred to, and that 79 per cent are in full-time work. We are working with Skills Development Scotland to develop long-term measures, as was identified in the Audit Scotland report “Modern apprenticeships”. I hope that Mr Findlay will acknowledge that work.

On Mr Chisholm’s point about contribution rates, that is of course an operational matter for Skills Development Scotland, although I understand from the Scottish Training Federation’s briefing to members for the debate that it is engaging “robustly”, as it describes it, with SDS on the matter. We look forward to hearing more on those discussions.

As the cabinet secretary said in her opening remarks, we have the ability to build on the important initiatives that have been taken in the sector, the strong regional college system, the undeniable success of Scotland’s modern apprenticeships programme and, of course, curriculum for excellence. Those provide us with a long-term plan.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Annabelle Ewing

Is it not the case that student support is currently at £104 million, which is much in excess of what it was in 2006-07, when the Scottish National Party took office from Labour?



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
The Minister for Youth and Women’s Employment (Annabelle Ewing)

Will the member give way?

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
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NoDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
>> Show more
YesCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Annabelle Ewing
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11565: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11294: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11292: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11291: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11187: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10942: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10709: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10694: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 30/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10672: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10307.1: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
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EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03747: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03709: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22948: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22797: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4T-00804: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03545: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03477: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03417: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02203: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03356: Annabelle Ewing, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

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