Rising youth unemployment could cost young people in Scotland up to £3bn in lost wages without urgent government intervention, a trade union report has warned.
In the past year, unemployment among 16-24 year olds has jumped from 8.3% to 13.5% and the proportion of young people claiming unemployment benefits has almost doubled, said the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC).
It is calling for public investment leading to a “green economic stimulus”, a four-day working week with no loss of pay, and taxes on wealth and higher incomes.
The STUC’s new report, Action For Jobs, estimates that an average 18-21 year old in Scotland unemployed for a year loses £57,000-£77,000 over the following two decades.
It estimates current levels of unemployment will cost between £2.4 billion and £3 billion in lost wages for young people without intervention from Government.
The STUC also warns over a long-term decline in manufacturing, saying that over the last 25 years Scotland’s manufacturing workforce has dropped from 346,000 to 179,000.
“Much of this has been papered over by an increase in low-paid and precarious service sector jobs which are now under threat”, says the report.
The report suggests 367,000 “green jobs could be created” with large sums of public investment and much greater levels of public ownership.
It states: “We need a street-by-street home retrofitting programme, funded nationally but directly delivered by local authorities.
“A publicly-owned energy company that designs, builds and generates renewable energy, and our buses need to be taken back into public control with free bus travel piloted in our major cities.”
STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “Scotland cannot afford another lost generation.
“There is simply no prospect of a jobs recovery without significant public sector intervention.
“We are facing a jobs crisis, but there is no shortage of work to be done.
“Solving the jobs crisis must go hand in hand with tackling the climate crisis. We know that over the next 10 years Scotland must radically change how it produces energy, keeps our homes warm and transports people.
“The next Scottish Parliament must tackle these issues face on, funding a green economic stimulus, creating green apprenticeships and moving workers to a four-day week with no loss of pay.”
It also calls for taxes on wealth and higher incomes by the medium term of the parliament as Covid-related government borrowing falls.
Ms Foyer said: “Parties cannot continue to run scared of wealth redistribution.
“Progressive income tax and tax on wealth must be ready to pick up the slack as emergency Covid funding dries up and Scotland needs more borrowing powers as a matter of urgency.”