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Recommendations for how Scotland's labour market can be supported in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic have been welcomed by Scottish Government.

A series of steps to help individuals and employers have been put forward by a sub-group of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, led by Board Chair Nora Senior and SDS Chair Frank Mitchell.

The group was asked by the First Minister in May to develop proposals for how the enterprise and skills agencies could support the labour market, and included representatives from industry bodies, employers, trade unions and DYW groups.

A report published by the group makes a series of recommendations including:

  • expansion of apprentice provision, including more off-the-job training,
  • maximising the flexibility of colleges and universities with a focus on critical skills required in growth areas of the economy,
  • development of PACE redundancy support with more front-line advisers and tailored support for businesses of all sizes,
  • short placement schemes to give work experience to under-25s who have been out of work for six months,
  • assistance to upskill or reskill staff and more integrated support for businesses.

The report was welcomed by Minister for Business, Skills and Fair Work, Jamie Hepburn.

He said: “The economic impact of COVID-19 continues to be severe, and one of the most concerning aspects is the risk of increased and potentially sustained unemployment. That is something we will do everything we can to prevent.

“This report, along with Benny Higgins’ Advisory Group report last week, gives us some valuable ideas for how we can provide workers – particularly young people – with the skills and opportunities they need to be able to play an active and fulfilling role in the workforce.”

Frank Mitchell said: “The availability of work is the key economic challenge emerging from the COVID-19 crisis, and we need to take action that will support both businesses and individuals during the recovery.

“That means helping employers retain staff whilst taking an innovative approach to training and apprenticeships that will help people find work.

“Underpinning this with enhanced redundancy support that builds on our existing capabilities will help ensure we emerge strongly from this crisis.”

Strategic Board Chair Nora Senior added that the sub-group would continue working over the summer months on proposals, with a focus on the long-term unemployed and vulnerable groups.

She said: “The sub-group has worked at pace to develop these recommendations that we believe are interventions that can be implemented quickly to not only help keep people in employment, but also support those who are facing redundancy or who have already lost their job.

“The report highlights the need for the Scottish Government, its agencies, partners such as local authorities, and crucially, employers in all sectors to come together immediately to contribute to the effort that is required to the mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

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