‘Guarantee jobs for young people’ to help Covid-19 recovery

Advisory group led by Tesco Bank boss Benny Higgins call for a two-year jobs guarantee for 16 to 25-year-olds.

Jobs should be guaranteed for 16 to 25-year-olds for at least two years to help Scotland recover economically from Covid-19, a group advising the Scottish Government says.

An expert panel led by former Tesco Bank boss Benny Higgins published a report on Monday detailing 25 recommendations to assist the country’s recovery.

Among them is a “Scottish jobs guarantee scheme” for young people which would provide two years of “secure employment” at a minimum, paying at least the living wage.

Speaking alongside the First Minister at Monday’s coronavirus briefing, Mr Higgins said the measure was needed to avoid the “long-term scarring” of young people’s prospects.

Other recommendations in the Scottish Government-commissioned report include a “significant increase” in infrastructure investment, particular in digital technologies, and targeted measures to support the hospitality and tourism sectors.

Mr Higgins said Scotland must “create jobs at an unprecedented rate” to boost the economy.

It comes ahead of a forecasted slump of GDP as a result of the pandemic of around a third.

The Scottish Government has said it will explore the report in depth and give a “detailed response” to it before the end of July.

Mr Higgins said: “Scotland faces an economic challenge of monumental scale. 

“If we do not intervene radically to transform our economy, inequalities will drastically widen with long-term scarring for communities across the country, and for our young people in particular.

“This cannot be allowed to happen.”

He continued: “The advisory group on economic recovery has worked at great speed over the past two months, engaging extensively with businesses and with wider civic society to understand the challenges that we face, but crucially to curate a set of recommendations that emphasise the immediate need to protect and create jobs, reduce inequalities by building a green and technology-led recovery, and make Scotland an attractive place to do business.”

Speaking on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon said her administration agrees with the basic principles of the report.

She added that Scotland continued to make good progress in tackling coronavirus, with plans to set out more indicative dates for when lockdown measures could be eased later in the week.

The First Minister moved the country into phase two of its route map out of lockdown last week, but hoped-for measures like the reopening of beer gardens were postponed.

Sturgeon said on Monday: “There are already countries – China and Germany for example – that are right now dealing with spikes in cases as a result of significant outbreaks.

“Health officials in South Korea have said they think the country is now experiencing a second wave.

“I know that when numbers of cases and deaths here are continuing to fall it is very tempting for all of us to think it is all over and we should just now quickly get back to normal.

“We are trying to get back to normal and we want to do that as quickly as possible, but let me reiterate my strong view that acting recklessly now would be a serious mistake.”

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