The Scottish Liberal Democrats have announced plans for a £40m fund to help young people find employment in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The party’s leader Willie Rennie set out the proposals at a Scottish Chamber of Commerce roundtable on Wednesday which included creating 2000 paid graduate internships with small businesses.
Last year the number of graduate jobs dropped by 12% with most employers anticipating a further decline this year, according to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE).
Rennie said: “There are enormous challenges facing graduates in a covid economy. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that graduates will likely find it harder to get work and will start off in lower-paying occupations than they might have expected.
“Those who graduated in the wake of the global financial crisis faced headwinds that left them years behind previous graduate cohorts. We need to make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes again.”
The ISE Student Recruitment Survey 2020 reported the fall in graduate recruitment was the biggest drop since ther 2008 crash.
The Lib Dems said they would deliver a new £40m fund to support apprenticeships, offer jobs through public agencies and the party’s programmes for the creative industries, and in other sectors such as low carbon and artificial intelligence.
Rennie said: “Not only will we offer a job guarantee for every 16-24-year-old so that they all have access to a job or training, we will deliver a new national programme for 2000 paid graduate internships with small businesses.
“This programme will be run through the enterprise agencies and university careers services and will support placements for graduates from 2020 and 2021.
“Not only will this help those just starting out in new careers, it will provide a welcome boost to local economies too.”