A grant of £1.95million has been given to colleges in the Highlands and Moray to help tackle youth unemployment.
The funding is to be split between Moray College, North Highland College and Inverness College, which form part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The money, which comes from the European Social Fund, is the latest round of such funding, following the £5.3million announced in February to help aid economic growth. It will go towards funding training programmes and full time places in order to boost employability for young people in the area.
On a visit to Inverness College, the Minister for Youth Employment, Angela Constance said that not having training or education “can be highly damaging to the life chances of Scotland’s young people and can seriusly dent their ambitions.”
She stated that the Scottish Government has “guaranteed every 16-19-year-old a place in education or training” and that the funding will “build on that activity and help us nurture the potential of our young people, provide routes into work and harness their ability and creativity to contribute towards future economic growth.”
The December 2011 figures show that at the numbers of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Highlands, Moray, Argyll and Bute grew towards the end of last year, and was up to 7,500 by the start of 2012.
NUS Scotland have welcomed Scottish Government plans to increase funding for universities by around £75million. However they have said that they are “concerned” at proposed cuts to college funding, and warned that the government should ensure the number of places available doesn’t fall. The plans, announced yesterday by Finance Secretary John Swinney, are part of the government’s spending review, outlining the budget for the next three years.
There had been fears that austerity measures would lead to cuts in education, but Swinney was able to deliver on his party’s campaign promises of increased financial support and no tuition fees for Scottish students. He pledged a minimum income of £7000 for the poorest students, and the protection of the EMA for young students and pupils.
NUS Scotland President Robin Parker said “Taken together these proposals are a major step in right direction towards making access to education in Scotland fairer. This progress is very welcome news and testament to the hard work and campaigning by thousands of students across Scotland in the run-up to the last election.”
But he was less enthusiastic at the cuts facing the budget for colleges, saying “Colleges serve some of the most deprived communities in Scotland, offering an educational lifeline and local access to education to some of the most excluded in our society. They must make sure that no matter what, the number of places at college is at least protected and that quality is maintained.”