Today, on Europe Day, I was pleased to stand up in the Scottish Parliament and announce a cash boost of around £25 million from the European Structural Funds, to get young people into real jobs.
European Structural Funds have, for many years, played a significant role in facilitating structural economic reform in Scotland, supporting restructuring and development in key sectors and supporting opportunities and individuals in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. As the Minister responsible for Structural Funds, I am delighted at the positive impact these Funds have made and continue to make.
Already, we have allocated over £650 million since 2007, supporting over 14,000 businesses, creating nearly 20,000 jobs and providing advice and support to over 240,000 individuals to enter employment or to progress in the workplace. These figures show that we are delivering projects that provide real added value.
I have made it clear that we will take an all-Government, all-Scotland approach to youth employment. We will work together with the public, private and third sectors. We want to break the cycle that too many of our young people find themselves unable to escape from. Of course the global financial downturn means these are tough times, but by incentivising recruitment and getting young people into jobs we can start to break that cycle.
This is why I will be asking the Structural Funds Programme Monitoring Committee to prioritise youth employment with the Structural Funds remaining unallocated in the period up to 2014. I want the focus of these funds to be incentivising the recruitment of young people into jobs, building on the £30 million already committed by the Scottish Government to youth employment.
I encourage everyone to contribute and tell us how you think this money should be spent.
Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment.