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Tackling inequality and delivering economic growth in Scotland

Published: 29/06/2015

Aileen McKechnie, ‎Director of Advanced Learning and Science, blogs for ECU on what the Scottish Government is doing to tackle inequality and deliver economic growth.

Aileen McKechnie

Ahead of this afternoon’s ECU’s Developing the Young Workforce event on 29 June, I thought I’d share a short trailer of my speech. Not to give too much away, I’ll be covering the three main ways in which the Scottish Government is tackling inequality and delivering economic growth as outlined in Scotland’s Economic Strategy.


1. Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)

DYW is our flagship approach to tackling structural youth unemployment. A strategy agreed with local government and grounded in a robust partnership approach. Our response to Education Working for All! from the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, which itself was asked to focus on inequality in access to, and uptake of, education and training. Our success will be measured in shifting those stubborn figures that say if you’re a care experienced young person, a young disabled person or from an ethnic minority community, you’re more likely to be unemployed and less likely to take up a Modern Apprenticeship. We’re exploring with partners what barriers, real and perceived, perpetuate those figures, and you’ll notice both Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council are focusing on how to address gender imbalance. I’m proud to lead a programme that is so clearly tackling a challenge to a system that is not yet working equally well for all. The panel at today’s event will discuss this further.

2. Commission for Widening Access

DYW is about expanding the choices available to all young people no matter what their background. It’ll work closely with the Commission for Widening Access. Why? Because whether you study in school, in college, in work or in a university, you should have chosen that option rather than having seen it as your only option. We aim to create a wide range of learning and training opportunities accessible to all young people.

3. Raising Attainment

The third strand of our approach to tackling inequality is our actions to raise attainment, particularly early in a young person’s experience of school. I’ll talk about the Scottish Attainment Challenge, launched by the First Minister in Dundee earlier this year. I’ll say more about the three components of the Challenge: the £100m Attainment Scotland Fund; universal support through expansion of existing initiatives and programmes; and, the National Improvement Framework.

Our targets are stretching and rightly so. We have to ensure that we set the bar high for our ambitions for all young people. We have the chance to both tackle inequality and promote economic growth, building on the already excellent contribution to Scotland’s economy from our college and university sectors.

I’ll make sure a copy of my speech is available online after the event.