Finance Secretary John Swinney today met some of the young people benefitting from Forestry Commission employment programmes in Scotland.

Mr Swinney spent the morning with trainees who are gaining employability skills and experience by helping to improve one of Scotland's main cycle routes near Uddingston in South Lanarkshire. Sustrans National Route 75 of the National
Cycle Network path is also part of the Clyde Walkway. The young people are strimming, tree thinning and pruning to help make the access route a more open and attractive place to use.

When the training is completed the participants will have qualifications in Health and Safety, tool operation and other industry related practices that may help them into employment.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney said:

"The Forestry Commission in Scotland is playing its part in helping tackle the problem of youth unemployment and it has been very useful to hear about the experiences of young people using their training programmes.

"This particular scheme also makes a valuable contribution to the local area, in both social and environmental terms.

"The Scottish Government knows that more needs to be done to improve prospects for our young people. We have allocated £30 million of new resources to boost youth employment and have appointed a Minister to deal solely with this issue.

"We have also introduced initiatives such as the record 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships per year, and 'Opportunities for All' to guarantee a training or learning place for all 16-19 year-olds - and we can build on these to ensure that no young person is left behind."

Forestry Commission Scotland Director Bob McIntosh said:

"As Scotland's largest land manager we are in a unique position to help young people to gain employment skills by working in and around the national forest estate. This year, through a variety of training programmes within the Central Scotland Green Network we are helping over 200 young people in this way and we aim to continue with further programmes during 2012."