Although there are tentative signs that the Scottish labour market is starting to recover, youth unemployment remains a key concern. Unemployed young people represent a costly and underused resource. The Prince’s Trust estimated that in 2010, youth unemployment was costing the UK economy more than £155 million per week in benefits payments and lost productivity, the costs of youth crime were put at another £23 million per week.
Within the CSGN area, there are around 65,000 unemployed 16-24 year olds and, based on our research, we believe that the environmental sector can play a positive role in enhancing their employment prospects whilst delivering improvements in environmental quality.
In the Spring of 2013, the CSGN Support Unit commissioned an audit to gain a clearer understanding of the extent and volume of employment and training activity based outdoors which contributed towards the development of the CSGN during the year 2012. The study gathered information from 24 organisations relating to 31 separate initiatives. The figures received indicate that 660 young people took part in relevant courses over the year. The schemes varied in length and set-up costs but on average they lasted for 24 weeks and cost is £6,225 per trainee.
The trainees benefited from participating in the scheme in variety of ways including: improving practical skills; gaining qualifications; obtaining work experience and also less tangible ‘soft-skills’ which are crucial in obtaining and keeping a job. The initiatives also delivered a range of environmental improvements which benefitted both the local communities and wildlife.
Expanding on this research, six case studies have been developed which demonstrate some of the different approaches which have been used across the CSGN area by organisations such as the Forestry Commission Scotland, Local Authorities, Charities, Community Groups and also training providers. These will be published in April 2014.
The Support Unit is also about to launch a campaign to demonstrate to the Scottish Government and policy makers the effectiveness of this approach and ask for support in developing similar training initiatives across the CSGN area.