Roseanna Cunningham MSP

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Roseanna Cunningham MSP

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  • Member for: Perthshire South and Kinross-shire
  • Region: Mid Scotland and Fife
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Roseanna is a member of the following Committees:

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

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by The Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training (Roseanna Cunningham)

Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Roseanna Cunningham

I rather expect that my colleague who is in charge of the education portfolio will want to take that forward.

As it happens, my colleague Annabelle Ewing and I have been speaking to a number of people about what happens in schools in particular, and those issues need to be looked at carefully. We need to ensure that schools are making available all opportunities to the maximum number of pupils right from the start, and that opportunities are not closed off to young people because of lack of awareness, as much as anything else.

On schools specifically, Sir Ian Wood and his commission noted the progress that we are making with curriculum for excellence, which is now firmly embedded as the way we do education in Scotland. It has moved away from a narrow focus, and is about preparing young people to be adaptable, flexible and resilient lifelong learners. As Sir Ian noted, it provides us with the best possible foundation from which to close the attainment gap, and from which to better prepare our young people for the world of work. I know that Liz Smith and her colleagues are concerned about that.

Along with our schools, Scotland’s college sector is already responding positively to Sir Ian’s recommendations. The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council is already, together with local authorities, schools and others, supporting seven college regions to develop senior phase vocational pathways so that young people in the senior phase of school are better supported into the world of work.

Colleges and schools have been working collaboratively for several years, and pilots are building on the success of what has gone before. Pilots are now in place in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh, Fife, Central, Glasgow and West Lothian, and they are reaching out to more young people and helping them to make positive choices about their careers. The pilots are strengthening vital links between school, college, university and employment for 15 to 18-year-old secondary school students.

Crucially, all college regional outcome agreements will from the academic year 2015-16 contain clear statements that outline colleges’ contributions to senior phase vocational pathways in their regions.

Employers are vital too, and I warmly welcome the support that we have had from the business community for Sir Ian’s recommendations on how we can improve employer engagement. Scotland’s businesses have already come forward, and we have been able to establish the national invest in young people group. It is chaired by Rob Woodward, who is the chief executive of STV, and initial funding has been made available to establish regional groups. Those groups will be important in the future in delivering fair access and in engaging people at local level.

Work is also under way on development of a new standard for work experience, which Sir Ian’s report identified as an area for early improvement, and which young people have identified as a priority. Developing young people’s understanding of the world of work is also central to foundation apprenticeships. In Fife, 50 pupils from five secondary schools are already working towards engineering foundation apprenticeships, and a similar pathfinder scheme is in place in West Lothian. Drawing lessons from those initiatives, we aim to roll out such apprenticeships and drive a change in provision throughout Scotland.

The commission’s report sets out a challenge to us about the scale of inequality. We want more jobs, and better jobs, for our young people. However, because of the UK Government’s discriminatory regulations, some of our young workers could receive less than £3 an hour. No one, no matter what age they are, should be working for less than £3 an hour, so I call on Westminster to align the rates for apprentices with the other higher bands of the national minimum wage. We would like to go further with the living wage, but as a bare minimum we must end the shockingly low minimum wage that apprentices can currently face.

We will tackle all the barriers that our young people face in getting a fair deal in the workplace; tackling occupational segregation must be a priority. We cannot view it as acceptable that so many young women choose not to follow up study of maths, science, technology and engineering simply because they consider that to be training for a boy’s job.

The proportion of women who have benefited from the MA programme may have increased from 27 per cent to 41 per cent, but we are still falling short. There are cultural factors that we will need to address if we are to harness the talents of all our young people, regardless of their background. That is why our implementation plans contain specific measures to address those factors and to reduce workforce inequalities among all our young people.

I take the point that Jayne Baxter made in the chamber last week about the particular difficulties that young disabled people can face. Whatever difficulties or barriers stand in front of our young people, we have a duty to ensure that there is a way ahead and that they can all benefit from the opportunities, which is why we are funding a number of local pilot projects on that across Scotland. Where there is evidence of good work locally, we will expect that to inspire and inform practice across Scotland.

Last month, when the First Minister set out the Government’s programme, she said that we will focus on working

“in the interests of all those whom we serve.”—[Official Report, 26 November 2014; c 19.]

Above all, it will be our mission to create a fairer and more prosperous nation. Under this Government, wealth and inclusion must always go hand in hand. With our implementation plans and refreshed strategy, we will support our young people better for employment. Each of us in Parliament, in common with our constituents and citizens all over Scotland, has a stake in supporting our young people into the workforce. Our approach is to engage as many partners and stakeholders as want to participate in that endeavour. I take great pride in leading the agenda on behalf of the Scottish Government.

I move,

That the Parliament endorses the ambitions set out in the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce report, Education Working for All!; notes the progress made in reducing youth unemployment in Scotland since the publication of Scotland’s youth employment strategy; recognises that there is more to do in tackling youth unemployment and improving the number and quality of youth employment opportunities; further recognises that the refreshed strategy must take into account the changing economic conditions, focus attention on supporting young people who need more help to participate in the labour market and address legacy issues from the recession; believes that critical to improving youth employment is a world class vocational education system, providing more opportunities for young people; further believes that this will best be achieved by supporting close working between employers and an education system that is responsive to economic and labour market need, and welcomes the Scottish Government’s implementation plan developed with a broad range of partners, including local government, for reducing youth unemployment and unlocking social mobility as set out in the newly published youth employment strategy.

15:36  

Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Roseanna Cunningham

I thank Tavish Scott for his intervention. Of course, I am conscious that we are now well into the financial year 2014-15. However, it is worth highlighting again that local government has been a full partner in developing the plans, which are now very well developed, so it should be making clear which local priorities and actions require the additional investment. That is something that Tavish Scott may wish to consider. My officials are currently working with their counterparts in the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to establish the allocation of the local government funding, and they are taking into account factors including deprivation, rurality and appropriate adjustments for the islands, which is a very key issue. If Tavish Scott is happy with that answer at this stage, I will be happy to speak to him again in more detail as the situation develops and perhaps as he becomes aware of more detailed information.

That is a good point at which to move on to resources in general. In June, we said that we would be providing the resources to kick-start the whole programme. We made an initial £12 million available for implementation of the programme in the financial year 2014-15, and we have committed a further £16.6 million in the 2015-16 draft budget. Clearly, we also need to think about funding across the education and training system over that period. In the Wood commission report, there was a call for greater collaboration in use of resources. That is why we will continue to look to all our partners to test new approaches and work together to build capacity across the system and to improve outcomes for Scotland’s young people. That, again, is what Sir Ian’s report recommended.

Today, I am pleased to set out not only our strategy, but how local government intends to use the funds that we are allocating to it. We have agreed with local government a package of £6.5 million in 2014-15 to support its contribution to implementation. Since local authorities are at different stages of developing their specific proposals, the deployment of funding from that package will necessarily vary from area to area—a point that Tavish Scott has, in a sense, already made.

Broadly speaking, the funding will support the development of vocational and career pathways for young people, the enhancement of STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—opportunities and training, and the engagement of schools with parents and carers regarding the new opportunities on offer. It will support a review of work experience to make it relevant to the needs of young people and local labour markets and it will support further development of modern apprenticeships. It will also support action to tackle inequality by ensuring that opportunities are open to all, and that vulnerable groups are supported into positive destinations. I know that many members will wish to comment on that last aspect.



Meeting of the Parliament 17 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 17, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training (Roseanna Cunningham)

This debate is an opportunity to set out the Government’s new youth employment strategy and its full response to the report from the commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce.

Members will remember that, in June, Sir Ian Wood and his commission presented a coherent, practical and powerful set of ideas about what more needs to be done to align our education system firmly, and more fully, with the needs of the economy.

Angela Constance, the then Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment presented our initial response to Parliament in June. We said that we shared without exception the commission’s ambitions for young people, employment and prosperity in Scotland.

On the publication of their report, Sir Ian and his commission were clear about their recommendations. However, they were equally certain that we already had many of the building blocks in place: the strong regional college system, the undeniable success of Scotland’s modern apprenticeship programme and, with curriculum for excellence, a long-term national plan for success in our schools.

As Sir Ian recognised, we are already going in the right direction. Against the background of recession and continued Westminster austerity, our strategy for developing Scotland’s young workforce is delivering. Recent employment statistics for Scotland have been encouraging—we have record numbers of people in work. Youth unemployment in Scotland is at a five-year low and Scotland is outperforming the United Kingdom as a whole in the youth employment and youth inactivity rates; indeed, yesterday’s figures from Skills Development Scotland confirm that there are now record numbers of Scottish school leavers achieving positive destinations, so we start from an already strong foundation. However, we know that we have to do more.

We want to tackle long-term issues in the labour market, and barriers to young women and men getting into jobs. Earlier this year, we said that we would be able to increase the annual number of new modern apprenticeship starts, taking the number to 30,000 a year by 2020.

The First Minister has already said that within our schools it is also our priority to increase attainment for all, and in the weeks and months ahead, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning will take forward a programme to do just that. The equation is simple. If we drive up attainment for all in our schools, we will improve the prospects of all our young people as they enter the workplace.

We have set ambitious targets for our young workforce. Our long-term youth employment strategy is designed ultimately to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021. In each of the next seven years, we will provide a report on progress towards that target. By any measure, that represents a radical reduction on the current position. It will put us where we belong—among the best-performing countries in Europe. We know that that is within our grasp.

We need to focus as never before on aligning our education system more firmly, and for the longer term, with the needs of the economy, and we need a renewed focus on employability within education. Sir Ian’s report demands no less than a culture change from all parts of the education system, from employers and from young people themselves, as well as from those who influence them.

Above all, our seven-year programme will be a collaborative effort. Government cannot do this on its own, which is why our programme has been developed in conjunction with our partners in local government and with Scotland’s employers and trade unions, as well as with our schools and colleges.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Roseanna Cunningham

I agree, of course. Drew Smith might be interested in this aspect of the discussion, too. I can assure Bob Doris that our ambitions in delivering employment services through the devolved powers outlined by the Smith commission exceed the success that the work programme has so far achieved in Scotland, which, by our assessment, is nowhere near good enough.

In designing employability services, we can continue to draw on the strengths of a range of partners—I have already mentioned Skills Development Scotland, local authorities and the third sector—and build on their current successful delivery across a range of initiatives.

The Scottish Government is committed to providing the best possible support for the unemployed, but we do not believe that we can do that unless we have the ability to make the changes that we consider to be necessary. Right now, it does not look as though we will have that ability any time in the near future.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training (Roseanna Cunningham)

Last week, I wrote to Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to note that the decision of UK ministers to extend the work programme contract without reference to the Scottish Government was incompatible with the terms of the Smith commission agreement on the devolution of contracted DWP programmes.

On 3 December, Iain Duncan Smith responded to me to indicate that ministers had made the decision in August and would not change that decision.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Roseanna Cunningham

It is fair to say that, since the Smith commission report was published, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Skills Development Scotland and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities have all expressed a view that they would be able to run the new employment programmes emanating from the agreed devolution. We do not actually have that devolution yet, of course, and we are still in the process of trying to establish when that will come to us.

However, I am happy to commit to meeting representatives of whichever organisation members wish me to meet to discuss all the issues that lie within this area of my portfolio responsibility. In any case, I would have expected to meet representatives of organisations as large as Glasgow City Council in the normal course of events. I can promise the member that that conversation will take place.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training (Roseanna Cunningham)

The Government agrees that partnership is crucial to the current delivery of employability services in Scotland. That commitment was clearly set out in our 2012 employability framework, “Working for Growth”, continuing through the Scottish employability forum. Partnership will therefore be key to the successful delivery of any new employment programmes.

We recognise the need for, and value of, locally tailored services to meet the needs of individuals and local labour markets. We think that we can do that best in concert with the third sector and local authority employability schemes.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Roseanna Cunningham

As Jamie McGrigor knows, we are talking about a seven-year programme across the sectors. Early action is clearly needed to assess the cost of full implementation over the whole of those seven years. However, we are confident that the £28.6 million allocated over this year and next will address costs in the early stages. The commission recommended that its recommendations should be met through mainstream funding; it was not looking for additional special funding.

Jamie McGrigor raises an important issue and we are aware of the need to ensure that the partnerships develop as well as they can. This will not work without partnership development. Partnerships are not just about what Jamie McGrigor is talking about; they go much wider than that.

We are absolutely clear that partnerships will not succeed without the involvement of schools and the education sector. That is why we are putting a very strong focus on them, which will be very much part and parcel of what we will discuss next week in the chamber.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Roseanna Cunningham

I thank Jayne Baxter for raising that issue in the chamber. It is important for us to remember that there are a great many access needs across our society. I discussed some of them at the national economic forum this morning and the issue of disabled access to employment was part of that conversation.

I reassure Jayne Baxter that we are taking on board all those issues. We are not only looking at issues for the young workforce, but implementing the fair work programme, which I am taking forward on roughly the same timescale. Jayne Baxter might be pleased when she hears more information about that, because it is very much part and parcel of what we want to ensure: that everybody, regardless of their background or ability, is able to get some access to employment, and to make that employment the best that it can be.



Meeting of the Parliament 10 December 2014 : Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training (Roseanna Cunningham)

Since publication of commission’s report in June, we have made considerable progress in taking forward its recommendations. We have already deployed £5 million of £12 million allocated in 2014-15, with a further £16.6 million set aside for this work in 2015-16. Our commitment to the young workforce is clear.

I will be able to say a good deal more about how we will implement the commission’s recommendations next week, during the debate in the chamber.

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
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YesCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
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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
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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 Roseanna Cunningham
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11901: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11484: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11395.1: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10291: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10090: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09957: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09272: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08950: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/02/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08881: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08544: Roseanna Cunningham, Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
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EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S3O-05825: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/02/2009 Show Full Question >>
Question S3O-05305: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/12/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3O-05247: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/12/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3O-05049: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/11/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-11949: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/04/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-11850: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/04/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-11849: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/04/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-11851: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 15/04/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-11221: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/03/2008 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-10098: Roseanna Cunningham, Perth, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/02/2008 Show Full Question >>