Paisley’s MSP George Adam is marking UN World Youth Skills Day by highlighting figures showing that the number of people on Modern Apprenticeships has grown by almost 60 per cent since the SNP came to office in 2007 – and repeating calls for powers over the minimum wage to be devolved to Scotland to allow action on fair pay for apprentices.
An analysis of figures from Skills Development Scotland shows the number of Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland has risen from 15,803 in 2007/08 to 25,247 in 2014/15 – an increase of 59.7 per cent. The SNP in government has exceeded its target of 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships a year every year since 2011/12 – and has increased the target to 30,000 a year by 2020.
The current minimum wage for apprentices is £2.73 per hour – while under plans put forward by the SNP at the General Election, the rate would have risen to £6.86 by 2020.
Commenting, George said:
“These very welcome figures highlight a key success of the SNP in government – with the number of Modern Apprenticeships in Renfrewshire rising by almost 47.9 per cent since 2007/08 and more young people being given an opportunity to get into work, learn a skill and secure a better future.
“Apprenticeships are a key part of the SNP in government’s successful youth employment strategy – and the Scottish Government has exceeded its target of 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships a year every year since 2011/12. This target is set to increase to 30,000 by 2020.
“Over the past few years, I have met with many modern apprentices in Paisley who are really benefiting from learning while working and receiving a wage.
“However, it is simply wrong that due to the discriminatory regulations of the UK Government, many apprentices could find themselves earning less than £3 per hour. In the recent budget, we seen another attack on young people from the Westminster Government, removing the ability of anyone under the age of 21 from claim for housing benefit. How can you afford a flat if you are earning less than £3 an hour.
“It’s imperative that we can continue to attract more young people into the Modern Apprentice programme – and that they aren’t put off by the disincentive of low pay. That’s why it is absolutely vital that powers to tackle low pay are devolved to Scotland.
“The SNP’s record in supporting and empowering our young people is second to none – and with powers over the minimum wage in Scotland’s hands rather than in George Osborne’s we can take further action to deliver a fairer wage for apprentices and ensure that they have all the support they need to succeed.”
Around 20,000 two year olds are now eligible for funded early learning and childcare, parents and carers have been reminded to take up a place for their child.
The entitlement to 600 hours of annual funded early learning and childcare has been extended to two year olds from low income households. This comes into effect from August and adds to the entitlement for all three and four year olds and around 15 per cent of two year olds.
Acting Minister for Children Fiona McLeod reminded parents of eligible children to register for their funded places as she met staff and children at Dens Nursery in Dundee.
Speaking on the announcement, Paisley’s MSP George Adam said, “Through my work in the Education and Culture Committee at Holyrood, I am all too aware of how vital is that we get it right during the early years of a child’s life. This is especially true for more vulnerable or disadvantaged children and I’m pleased they will be able to benefit from this extra provision.
“This is not simply about childcare; it is about ensuring all three and four year olds and those two year olds who would benefit the most, have access to high quality early learning and education in a nurturing environment. This will allow them to develop vital skills including literacy and numeracy from an early age.
“I’m encouraging all parents and carers to check if their child is eligible for funded early learning and childcare and register now so they can get their place in the autumn term. Our local council has been provided with the tools by the Scottish Government to make a dramatic difference in the early years of our children’s’ life’s and I will be watching closely to ensure these tools are used to their fullest.”
A public information campaign with advice for parents and carers on the eligibility criteria for funded early learning and childcare will begin next month.
The Scottish Government has committed £329 million to expand funded early learning and childcare for all three and four year olds and the 27% most disadvantaged 2-year-olds (around 20,000) to 600 hours from August 2014 over two years.
The Scottish Government has expanded funded hours by 45 per cent since 2007 – an increase worth up to £707 per child per year. They have set out our plans to go further by increasing provision from 16 hours a week to 30 hours a week by the end of the next parliament.
More information about eligibility criteria and local provision is available on the Scottish Families website: www.scottishfamilies.gov.uk
All 32 Local Authorities Sign up to Scottish Government Plan
The SNP has welcomed today’s announcement that each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities has signed up to the deal proposed by the Scottish Government to safeguard the number of teachers.
As announced by the First Minister today, an agreement has been reached for councils to maintain teacher numbers and their pupil-teacher ratio for next year at 2014/15 levels – supported by a £51m package of support from the Scottish Government.
This comes on the day that a poll shows that the SNP is by far the most trusted party to safeguard the future of Scotland’s education system – outstripping Labour by more than two-to-one.
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam said:
“This is excellent news for both teachers and families across the country – having quality teachers in our classrooms is one of the best ways to ensure our children have the best start in life and this agreement will protect teacher numbers across country.
“The SNP has an excellent record on education – with exam results standing at a record high, investing even more in tackling the attainment gap to ensure our least advantaged children have the opportunities they deserve and now securing teacher numbers in every local authority area in Scotland. This is exactly why people in Scotland trust the SNP with our education system more than each of the other parties put together.
“And while we are clear that there is more to be done to ensure every child in Scotland has the first-class education system they deserve – parents across the country can be assured that the SNP will work tirelessly to continue to protect and improve our education system.”
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Statistics showing that record numbers of applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds are applying to university show how important the SNP’s abolition of tuition fees has proved to people in Scotland.
The number of applicants by people from poorer backgrounds has increased by 3% to a record level of 41,080. Eighteen year olds from poorer backgrounds are now twice as likely to apply to university as they were a decade ago.
Commenting, SNP MSP George Adam who sits on the Education and Culture Committee said:
“Today’s figures are further demonstration of just how important the abolition of tuition fees has been for young people in Scotland.
“It has helped make going to university an option for more people from disadvantaged backgrounds – in contrast to the disastrous situation south of the border where tuition fees have stopped people making applications.
“Education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay – a principle that should be at the heart of Scotland’s approach to education, but which Labour’s Cuts Commission continues to jeopardise.
“With Labour warning that ‘nothing is off the table’ when it comes to what they might cut, it is clear that only the SNP are looking out for the interests of young people in Scotland.”
FREE school meals will be available to every pupil in Scotland during their first three years at primary school, First Minister Alex Salmond has announced.
The measure, which will be introduced from January next year, matches a scheme being brought in south of the border.
It is being funded with the extra money which will be received by the Scottish Government as a budget consequence of Westminster’s plans for schools in England.
During a debate on Scotland’s future at Holyrood, Salmond told MSPs that free meals in Scotland would be funded with £114million over the next two years, saving families at least £330 for each child.
“The announcements that we make today will have the greatest possible effect given the resources available to us,” Mr Salmond said.
“Under this Government, Scotland has made free meals available in every primary school to families which receive child and working tax credits. A step which hasn’t being taken in England and Wales, and which has contributed to 10,000 more pupils registering for free school meals.
“Now I am delighted to tell this chamber that we can go further. I can announce today that after discussions with our partners in local government, we will fund free school meals for all children in P1 to P3 from next January.
“That measure will build on and learn from the pilots we established in the five local authority areas in 2007/08.
“It will remove any possibility of free meals being a source of stigma during the first years of a child’s schooling, it will improve health and wellbeing, and will be worth crucially £330 each year for each child to families across the country.”
Mr Salmond also announced plans to further expand free childcare, starting with two-year-olds from the most deprived backgrounds.
From August this year, every two-year-old from a “workless” family will be entitled to 600 hours of free childcare, representing 15% of two-year-olds.
From August next year free childcare provision will be extended further, reaching 27 per cent of all two-year-olds, by widening the entitlement to families who receive certain welfare benefits such as income support.
The plans build on existing measures in Children and Young People’s Bill to provide free childcare to all two-year-olds in care.
“By August 2015, the overall level of free learning and care being delivered for two, three and four-year-olds in Scotland will exceed that which is promised elsewhere in the UK,” Mr Salmond said.
“These are important and immediate announcements, but they fall short, I readily admit, of the transformation that is required in Scottish society.
“We need to create a tax, welfare and childcare system that doesn’t plunge children into poverty as the UK Government is doing, that puts us on a par with the best childcare systems in the world.
“And that is why the future of Scotland’s children is the future of Scotland, and why Scotland’s future is an independent one.”
The Government said free school meals will cost £13million in 2014/15 and £42million in 2015/16. The expansion of childcare will cost £15million in 2014/15 and £44million in 2015/16.
The Scottish budget was boosted by an additional £308million in extra devolved spending following the UK Government’s Autumn Statement.
Mr Salmond said this funding was dwarfed by overall reductions in the Scottish budget.
SNP MSP George Adam said: “Opposition parties such as Labour say we will stop at nothing to get what we want.
“That’s true, we will stop at nothing to build a better future for the young people of Scotland, to give them hope and the vision that they can be everything they can be.
“That’s what we will stop at nothing to do, and an independent Scotland gives us the opportunity to create that.”
The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell MSP, has confirmed that PFI payments have mortgaged the future of our children. Answering a question in Parliament by George Adam – it was confirmed that this year alone Renfrewshire will make a PFI payment of £15 million, enough to build a brand new school every year. This comes as a back drop of Renfrewshire Council’s plans to close schools throughout the local authority.
Speaking on the revelation, George said:
‘These payments that we as tax payers have to make are clearly not value for money. You don’t have to take my word for it you can listen to the Treasury Committee of Westminster for confirmation.
‘This year alone a payment of £15 million will be made with this amount increasing every year, receiving nothing in return.
‘Excessive profits have been made by the private sector with PFI contracts, mistakes have been made.
‘I agree with the Cabinet Secretary that before closing schools in Renfrewshire the Convenor of Education in the council should ensure that parents are informed of the £15 million they spend getting absolutely nothing in return. That’s £15 million every year for 30 years. That’s a pay day loan on a level that is incomprehensible to most people.’
Renfrewshire Council SNP Group Leader Brian Lawson commented, ‘What makes matters worse is that some of these schools, built and run for profit by the private sector, each costing nearly a million pounds each and every year, are running at just over 50% capacity. Renfrewshire Labour are paying vast amounts of money for empty classrooms’.
Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell, visited Reid Kerr yesterday to see how the curriculum for excellence (CfE) was being put in to effect at the colleges Institute of Construction and Engineering. The visit was arranged after Paisley’s MSP, George Adam, paid the college a visit earlier this year and was impressed enough to tell the Cabinet Secretary all about it and encouraged him to see for himself what the students and staff were accomplishing. They both went to meet Senior lecturer Craig Stevenson in the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Department and some of the students.
Speaking on the visit, George said:
‘When I first visited Craig at the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Department I was blown away by the enthusiasm for this new way of continuous learning. Craig explained to me that students at the course had used left over plumbing materials to design and create sculptures, recycling and using their creative skills to produce art in their own time.
‘I really wanted to show Mike Russell how the college was working with students showcasing one of the best examples of how the curriculum for excellence should work.
‘Students have produced a number of works and they were keen to discuss their sculptures to the Cabinet Secretary, detailing how each was constructed and how they got their ideas.
Reid Kerr Principal, Audrey Cumberford, said:
‘For many of the students this course represented their first experience of college education. They have been encouraged to raise their own expectations and ambitions, build their confidence and develop a clearer understanding of how they can continue to explore opportunities whether within education or in work. Almost all of the students on this programme will now progress onto further study or apprenticeships and should be proud of what they have achieved during their time at the college’.
Mike Russell, the Cabinet Secretary added:
‘George has mentioned this college course numerous times to myself and indeed parliament. Listening to the students and their plans for the future was quite inspiring. Everyone at the college should be commended for their efforts and delivery of such an inspiring example of vocational education’.
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