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STUC 2013 Perth

Careers: Reform is a cut and 'modernisation' is selling young short

Sarah Collins
Sarah Collins
Pat Rowland
Pat Rowland

UNISON speakers condemned Skills Development Scotland 'reform' as a cut and warned that the modernisation programme was letting young people down.

The STUC recognised the importance of good quality careers advice for young people in tackling youth unemployment and condemned the cuts to the Skills Development Scotland workforce. There was praise for UNISON’s campaign for a review of the modernisation programme of Scotland’s career service, as Congress pledged to lobby the Scottish Government for additional funding for the service.

STUC Young Workers' delegate, UNISON's Sarah Collins, told delegates: "Many UNISON members in Skills Development Scotland insist that replacing full time careers advisers with temporary life skills coaches is a deskilling of the workforce.

"Instead of engaging with employers about available opportunities, TU members are isolated in rural offices and schools, carrying out tick box exercises and attempting to find way through labyrinth of new "red, amber, green" (discrimatory) "child labelling" procedure without any mutual training with teaching staff who are being asked to carry this out."

UNISON Scotland treasurer Pat Rowland joined Sarah in criticising the My World Work website, part of the modernisation programme.

Sarah said that it: "should only be a resource, not a replacement of TU members. Websites do not lend themselves to computer illiterate, no access to computers, or those not yet motivated to scroll through web resources.

"We ask the general council to call on the Scottish government not to allow the modernisation programme to turn into a cuts agenda", added Sarah.

Pat Rowland slammed the traffic light system as 'crude'. "It appears that the classification system used by Skills Development Scotland and that used by many schools don’t match up, leaving thousands of children in another category – unassigned."

"UNISON represents members in Skills Development Scotland and I’m not giving away any secrets when I tell you that they are not happy at the changes that are being imposed on them.

"But while they aren’t happy about what’s happening to them – they are furious about what’s happening to the service they provide – or increasingly the service they aren’t allowed to provide", Pat told delegates.

Crucial face to face interventions are being replaced by the website or telephone calls. And the new provision is based on the assumption that 100,000 pupils won’t want or need face to face guidance and advice.

"And to make sure they don’t get it staff numbers have been reduced by about 200 and offices are being closed or operating with reduced hours", claimed Pat.

Members who have tested the My World Work website found that the profile didn’t represent what they knew of their skills and strengths. "These are competent trained guidance staff", said Pat. "God knows what ordinary users are getting."

Even if the site was technically functional, only about two thirds of Scots (and half of Glaswegians) have broadband again limiting the opportunities for those who might want or need to use it.

Sarah told Congress that "SDS workers need assurances, and delivery, from top and bottom level management, that they will be supported in any changes, and they need funding to do this.

"Our members should be genuinely consulted on any further changes and should be involved with training carried out for these changes."

Pat Rowland added: "We’re all for reform and we’re all for modernisation. What we’re not for is calling something an improvement when its really a step back. Or calling something reform which is actually a cut or calling something modernisation when its selling Scotlands youngsters short.

"Now more than ever we need to provide the best possible start for our young people and that means a quality careers service. The Scottish government are reneging on their commitment toScotlands youth. Let’s change that."

17 April 2013

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