Liz Smith MSP

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Liz Smith MSP

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Parliamentary Activities

Member of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

Search for other Speeches made by Liz Smith

Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Liz Smith

The minister is absolutely right, but does she accept that when it comes to providing for local needs there is real pressure to ensure that college places that allow for part-time and more flexible work are in the economy and not on the cutback list?



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Liz Smith

I acknowledge that Ian Wood concentrates very much on colleges’ ability to deliver according to local circumstances. However, that approach needs to take account of the fact that a lot of the college cuts have severely affected those who find engaging in college education difficult and who want to work in their local community. That is the problem that the Government has to address.

There is a very strong message from the universities about their approach to colleges and schools.

I will pick up on a point that Elaine Murray made in her very interesting and thoughtful speech about the approach to STEM subjects. I think that we have to add modern languages to that, because the evidence that has been presented to the European and External Relations Committee shows that we still need to do a great deal to ensure that the one-plus-two language strategy is working properly. The Scottish baccalaureate was supposed to address that issue, but it does not seem to have caught the imagination of schools or pupils—or of colleges or universities.

This has been a very healthy debate that has, I think, been relatively free of the party-political rancour that we sometimes have. There have been a lot of thoughtful suggestions and I look forward to the minister’s response.

16:44  

Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Liz Smith

I will just finish this point.

This is about helping part-time students, students with disabilities and ethnic minority students, who perhaps find it very difficult to engage in college education as they have specialist needs. I think that we should be focusing on that aspect of the college cuts.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

I congratulate the cabinet secretary and the minister on their new positions.

It has been, largely, a thoughtful debate. I reiterate the Conservatives’ support for the Government motion and the Labour amendment. We cannot really disagree with the tone of either for the reasons that Chic Brodie mentioned in his speech.

All sides of the political divide accept that the domestic and international economic problems of recent years have had a profound effect on the whole economy. However, perhaps the greatest impact has been on many of our young people and, although the unemployment rate for young people in Scotland has not reached the exceptionally high levels that we see in other parts of Europe, there are still significant problems, notwithstanding the very encouraging statistics that the cabinet secretary and Gordon MacDonald mentioned. There is definitely an improvement, but we have to accept that the level of unemployment among young people aged 16 to 25 is still twice as high as that for the rest of the working population. That is exactly the focus that Ian Wood had when he set out on his report.

If we are to ensure that the Scottish economy is stronger in the future, the onus is on all of us to help to boost the jobs market. The cabinet secretary was right to talk about the quality of the jobs rather than just their number—that is a crucial point.

I reiterate another crucial point, which my colleague Mary Scanlon made when she spoke about the 29,000 youngsters who are not in any form of training, employment or education. Ignoring that could cost the economy up to £2 billion, according to the Government’s own statistics—if my memory serves me correctly. That should send a strong message to all of us.

If there is one key issue in the Scottish Government’s motion, it is that of the changing nature of economic circumstances. That is a very important point to make. However, the motion is a little too narrow when it comes to tackling some of the complexities of the labour market. I will spend a little time on that point, because we can be in absolutely no doubt whatsoever about the very real issues that confront youngsters with poor literacy and numeracy. That is not just the case among those who are perhaps the furthest removed from the labour market; it is also the case—although this is not widely recognised—among those who have qualifications.

Alison Johnstone made a good point about the wider perspective of what education has to try to do, but it cannot do that unless there are significant improvements in literacy and numeracy across the board and in the ability of youngsters to use those skills when they get to work. The Confederation of British Industry Scotland and the chambers of commerce point to the worrying fact that they still have to carry out quite a lot of remedial work with new employees.

We need to be clear that young people have to be extremely versatile these days—perhaps much more so than the generations before them. To do that, they have to be much more adaptable in their working practices. They have to learn not just a bank of knowledge but how and why things happen, using an interdisciplinary approach. I am a great supporter of the basic philosophy of curriculum for excellence, but I do not think that it is working in the way that we have to ensure that it does for that interdisciplinary approach to really work.

That brings me to colleges. I agree whole-heartedly with the comments that have been made about the need to redress some of the college cuts. I do not think that Joan McAlpine was right to say that it is just about full-time equivalents, although the position in that regard has undoubtedly remained the same, which I think is progress. However, that is not where the problem lies. The problem is with help for those who, previously, would never have aspired to a college education. The point was made by Neil Findlay and Hanzala Malik—



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

I am greatly encouraged by what the cabinet secretary has said. With regard to STEM subjects, has the Government given any thought to discussions with local authorities on heeding the call for dedicated science teachers in primary schools?



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Will Christine Grahame give way?



Meeting of the Parliament 03 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Has the minister considered further whether the state of buildings should be included in the school inspection?



Meeting of the Parliament 03 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Liz Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Has the Scottish Government given any thought to the call from the Royal Society of Chemistry to broaden the science curriculum to include subjects such as engineering and to start having dedicated science teachers in primary schools?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : Thursday, November 27, 2014
Liz Smith

I will intervene on Mr Swinney straight away. Was he concerned about having extra time to speak because he does not have terribly much to say about the Government’s programme?



Meeting of the Parliament 27 November 2014 : Thursday, November 27, 2014
Liz Smith

I did not say that I was entirely against attainment officers; I said that I needed to be persuaded and that I was looking for more details about the role that they would have in relation to directors of education and about how the attainment improvement would be measured.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search for other Motions lodged by Liz Smith
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11304: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10857: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 21/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10736.1: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09947: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 06/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10147.1: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09963.1: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09482.3: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 26/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09140.1: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 25/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08879.1: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08814: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 21/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Liz Smith
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-23733: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03867: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23594: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23596: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23595: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23572: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23571: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23566: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 05/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23468: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23474: Liz Smith, Mid Scotland and Fife, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>

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