Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, has called on the Scottish and UK Governments to act urgently to implement a Jobs Guarantee Scheme to prevent mass unemployment – particularly for young people – amid the economic crisis caused by Covid-19.

Official statistics show that the level of 16-24-year-olds claiming unemployment benefits has almost doubled between February and May, rising to 7. 1 per cent.

The Higgins economic recovery report published last week reiterated Jackie Baillie’s call for a Jobs Guarantee Scheme, warning that workers under the age of 25 are two and half times more likely than those aged 25 and older to work in sectors that have been shut down.

West Dunbartonshire has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19 related unemployment. Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions show that unemployment in the area rose from 2885 in March 2020 to 4440 in April 2020. West Dunbartonshire’s figure of 7.8% unemployment is only second to North Ayrshire’s 7.9% unemployment in terms of the highest rates of unemployment in Scotland.

In 2019, Argyll and Bute had lower than Scottish and UK average levels of unemployment. However, the workforce for the local authority is overwhelmingly made up of employees in the service sector – specifically in hospitality and tourism businesses. The hospitality and tourism sectors have been hit particularly badly by the Covid-19 crisis and, unlike other industries, are predicted to be affected by the economic impact of the pandemic long after other sectors begin to recover.

Jackie Baillie has consistently called for support to be given to those who have found themselves unemployed or unable to seek work during the crisis and has urged the Scottish and UK Governments to lay out plans for how to support people beyond the current Job Retention Scheme period.

Jackie Baillie MSP said:

“These figures highlight the urgent need for a robust and long term industrial strategy and a need to ensure job security for our young people. Our economy is in an unprecedented crisis and unemployment figures are growing exponentially.

“Workers in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute have suddenly found themselves out of work and have no idea if or when they will be able to find work again.

“The financial aid from both the Scottish and UK Government for those who find themselves unemployed and furloughed has been a help but it is vital that this support is developed and extended.

“The current crisis in the job market is not going to end anytime soon and workers cannot be allowed to suffer because of a situation that is completely out with their control.”

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