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The tenth Skills in Focus event took place in Atlantic Quay, Glasgow on Friday 12 June 2015 hosted by Paul McKelvie OBE, Chair of the Joint Skills Committee. The Skills in Focus series is intended to stimulate informed debate around current and future skills issues.

Professor Ron McQuaid from the University of Stirling presented on the long-term scarring effects of prolonged periods of youth unemployment.

The event was well attended with a number of representatives from organisations across the skills landscape. Those represented included the Scottish Government, Scottish Funding Council, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Trade Unions Congress, College Development Network, Career Development Institute and the Improvement Service. Representatives from training providers, colleges and universities were also in attendance.

Professor McQuaid discussed the strong evidence that suggests periods of unemployment when young leads to lower wages in the future and increased likelihood of further periods of unemployment. This is particularly the case for individuals with low skills. He also examined the evidence that prolonged periods of unemployment whilst young may influence health and wellbeing in later life, as well as lower general satisfaction with life overall.

He then identified some broad overlapping reasons for the causes of scarring. These range from an individual's personality and childhood experiences to employer responses towards hiring those with periods of prolonged unemployment when young.

To reduce the effects of such scarring, Professor McQuaid suggested that labour market policy should take greater consideration of progression after entry into employment, because longer-term career progression towards better jobs (for those that want progression) could to lead to more sustainable employment outcomes.

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