Neil Findlay MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2014 : Thursday, December 18, 2014
Neil Findlay

Will the new minister acknowledge—unlike his predecessor—that his Government’s local government budget cuts and shackling of our councils have impacted most on services for the young, the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable? Is he proud of that?



Meeting of the Parliament 18 December 2014 : Thursday, December 18, 2014
8. Neil Findlay (Lothian) (Lab)

To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it has made of how local government services impact on various social groups. (S4O-03848)



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Neil Findlay

That is not what I asked.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Neil Findlay

How is college for the 140,000 students who cannot get a place?



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Neil Findlay (Lothian) (Lab)

Today, 67,000 young people are unemployed. They are young people full of potential, ambition and expectation, but they lack an opportunity. They could be the engineers, welders, nurses, carers and doctors of tomorrow. That is a tragic waste of our young talent. Their plight has to be one of the top priorities of the current Government—or any Government—because, if we want to create the successful and fairer Scotland that the cabinet secretary has spoken about, we have to change direction. We will never create a fair society and economy based on a low-skills, low-pay and zero-hours culture.

I therefore welcome Sir Ian Wood’s report, which is an extensive and thorough piece of work, with 39 recommendations. In the short time that I have, I will pick up on a few of the issues that are raised in it and in the Government’s response. As a former teacher and college lecturer, I fully agree that we need to prepare young people for work at an earlier stage, but I believe that introducing children to different jobs and learning about careers should begin much earlier—I think that it should begin in primary school. Visits to local factories, shops, care homes, hospitals, restaurants and engineering plants help young people to understand what goes on in those workplaces and what people actually do when they go out to work.

School visits by nurses, vets, police officers or chefs give a practical insight into the real lives and careers of people in work. In my time in schools, some of the most influential people who made an impression on the pupils were those who came into school to share their life experiences. However, all of this has to be real. Young people can spot tokenism a mile away, they hate being patronised and they can see through flannel in two seconds, so I hope that we can avoid such an approach.

I share Sir Ian’s desire for vocational education and academic training to be put on the same footing. We desperately need more engineers, construction workers, technicians and information technology specialists. Our schools and colleges have to be aligned seamlessly to provide the qualifications and experience that pupils and students need to build such careers. Of course we need better links between our colleges and schools, but those links have to be meaningful and have to lead to qualifications that are of relevance to the local economy as well as the interests of our young people. There are many good examples of that happening across Scotland but, as the report says, we need to develop those links much further.

There is a lot to be commended in the report, which sets out good intention on quality assurance, regional outcome agreements and partnership working, and some excellent sentiment on equalities. However, there are a number of issues that I have concerns about. The report says that there is a need for “meaningful and effective” careers guidance and that a more “comprehensive standard” is required. Around two years ago, I raised concerns in this chamber about the direction of the careers service. Those concerns have not gone away. I think that the report reflects that.

Similarly, on modern apprenticeships, we previously raised issues about short timescales and the fact that some of them can be completed in three or six months, and we raised concerns about some of the sectors in which modern apprenticeships were being offered and about the level of qualification that was achieved. As I recall, the Government had increased the number of modern apprenticeships at level 2 and decreased the number at level 3, thus inflating the numbers. I think that Sir Ian’s report alludes to that. It says:

“Now is the time to more actively target Modern Apprenticeships towards supporting economic growth and areas of the labour market where the long term prospects of young apprentices are greatest.”

Sir Ian calls for more apprenticeships at level 3 or above, for a rethink of the status and value of apprenticeships and for more routes for progression, and he echoes the criticism that I have consistently made when he says:

“The term Modern Apprenticeships is still applied across the wide variety of different in-work training programmes and there is a case to introduce branding to help … differentiate … levels.”

I agree with that. Just because something is called an apprenticeship, that does not necessarily reflect the public’s perception or the perception of a young person of what it actually entails.

We need to ascertain whether modern apprenticeships are creating secure employment and whether our young people are staying in work on completion. It is my belief that we need a far more thorough evaluation to make sure that modern apprenticeships are fair and non-exploitative and offer value for money and that, most important, they lead to good, secure employment.

The truth is that, at the moment, we simply do not know how good modern apprenticeships are. Audit Scotland said in its recent report:

“The Scottish Government has set various priorities for modern apprenticeships but existing performance measures do not focus on long-term outcomes, such as sustainable employment. This means it is difficult to measure their long-term contribution to national outcomes. More specific long-term aims and objectives, along with information on their benefits and appropriate outcome measures, would make it easier to assess the extent to which modern apprenticeships provide value for money. It would also help direct funding in ways that offer the best value to individuals, employers and the economy.”

I therefore ask the cabinet secretary to confirm whether the Scottish Government intends to act on the advice of Audit Scotland. Is it going to include sustainable employment as a performance measure of the success of the modern apprenticeship programme? I did not see that in the Government’s response. I am happy to give way to the minister if she wants to answer that question just now, or she can respond at the end of the debate. Such a long-term evaluation, going beyond what has been done up until now, will help to inform our thinking about whether modern apprenticeships tackle youth unemployment in a sustainable, long-term way.

On colleges, Sir Ian’s report sets out a range of sensible proposals that we can support, However, of course, all of that is set against the backdrop of the Scottish Government’s policy agenda that has had such a devastating impact on further education in Scotland. Budgets in the sector have been cut by £67 million in real terms between 2011 and 2016; 140,000 student places have been lost, with adult learners, students with learning disabilities and women being most affected; and part-time courses, often the very courses that build confidence and get people back into education, have been cut to the bone. Even in the very group that the Scottish Government has targeted, the under-25s, numbers are falling. There are now nearly 60,000 fewer under-25s at college than there were in 2007-08. That is not a good record. Thousands of lecturing and support jobs have gone and, only last week, we saw that colleges need £14.7 million to meet the level of bursaries that students need, yet only £3.5 million has been awarded—more than £11 million short. So much for supporting students through their education.

That is Mike Russell’s further education legacy. I hope that the new cabinet secretary will immediately change course. If she does, she has our support. If not, the strategy will start with one hand tied behind its back.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Neil Findlay

Mary Scanlon speaks highly of bricklayers. I assure her that she will always have my support for that.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Neil Findlay

Annabelle Ewing should look at the shortfall of £11 million between what the colleges requested and what was awarded on the SNP’s watch.

The Government’s overall objective is to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021. That would mean that, after 14 years of an SNP Government—God forbid—60 per cent of today’s young unemployed Scots would still be on the dole; 60 per cent would be abandoned without hope. The First Minister often says that our greatest asset is our people, so why does that not appear to apply to all our people? What poverty of ambition that is. What a lack of determination and vision.

Let me say very clearly that we will never give up on our young people. I hope that the Government will reflect on that.

I move amendment S4M-11901.3, to leave out from first “believes” to “market need” and insert:

“believes that any young workforce strategy should make every attempt to ensure that young people in the most deprived and rural areas have equal access to opportunities; calls on the Scottish Government to address the 140,000 places cut from Scotland’s colleges, cuts that have disproportionately affected women, young people and disabled adults from deprived backgrounds; believes that vocational education should be given the same prominence and stature as academic education; recognises that vocational education and training are critical to improving opportunities but that a world class system can only be achieved by appropriately funding Scotland’s colleges; calls on the Scottish Government to tackle the issue of underemployment and promote sustainable, secure and safe employment for young people; further believes that this will best be achieved by joint working between employers, schools, colleges, universities and trade unions in an education and training system that is responsive to economic and labour market need,”

15:45  

Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Neil Findlay

I am in my last minute, but I will give way if the Presiding Officer will allow it.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Neil Findlay (Lothian) (Lab)

The minister predicted a price of $113 per barrel. Given the oil price just now, does he agree with me that, although he may be a Ewing, he is certainly no JR?



Meeting of the Parliament 09 December 2014 : Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Neil Findlay

I—

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
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
AbstainDefeated

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 Neil Findlay
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11960: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11938: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 17/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11928: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11901.3: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 16/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11895: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11859: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11858: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11857: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11856: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11855: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Neil Findlay
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4O-03878: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23581: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23580: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23578: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23579: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23582: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 09/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03848: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 08/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02444: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 01/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03771: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 24/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23327: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/11/2014 Show Full Question >>

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