Increase in number of Modern Apprenticeships

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(Credit: paisleyscotland)

The Scottish Government has increased the number of Modern Apprenticeships available to young people, in a continued effort to support youth employment.

Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships are jobs which allow people to work and learn, mostly targeted at those who have just left school, or will be leaving soon. They are a way to gain skills and qualifications, and be given the opportunity to start a career, without having to study full-time.

Fair Work Minister Jamie Hepburn announced that more than 29,000 people will benefit from Modern Apprenticeships next year. The target includes Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships and means Scotland is on course to reach its longstanding commitment of 30,000 new apprenticeships each year by 2020. The 2018/19 target of 28,000 new Modern Apprentices is on course to be achieved, with 27,145 people starting Modern Apprenticeships in 2017/18, surpassing the initial target of 27,000.

Mr Hepburn said: “It is vital we continue to develop Scotland’s young workforce to meet the emerging needs and opportunities of our employers and economy. That is why we are expanding the number of Modern Apprenticeship places available to 29,000 next year, meaning even more people can access a wide variety of work-based learning.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for all employers to invest in their workforce and provide the skills the economy needs now and in the future. The Scottish Government are funding more apprentices than ever before and we remain firmly on track to achieve our ambitious target of 30,000 new apprenticeship starts by 2020.”

Around 1,300 Graduate Apprenticeships will be available across 13 different subject, with 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeships available for secondary school pupils to choose alongside their other school subjects. Scottish Apprenticeship Week (which ends today) is a nationwide campaign aimed at encouraging employers to take on apprentices. The year’s theme is ‘Skills for the Future’, recognising the importance of investing in the workforce.

If you have an interest in becoming an apprentice, click here for information on applying.

This week in Brexit news

David Paul gives us a quick look at some of the big Brexit news this week:

Environmental activists storm Parliament

Extinction Rebellion staged a sit-in protest against climate change at Holyrood on January 25.

Earlier today 45 people from the organisation entered the Scottish Parliament, occupied the Debating Chamber and held a symbolic Citizens Assembly on Burns Day. The group was almost immediately asked to leave.

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Photo credit: Extinction Rebellion Scotland

Robert Alcock, of Extinction Rebellion, commented,

“We are not breaking the law. We are lawfully gathered in OUR Parliament, to draw attention to the climate emergency and to call for a Citizens’ Assembly in the name of the land and people of Scotland.”

A large crowd of both protesters and police gathered outside the Scottish Parliament this afternoon in a symbolic citizens’ assembly against climate change.

Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent activist group aiming to put pressure on the Scottish Government to make the necessary changes to policy regarding climate change.

The group is actively promoting the recent warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) that global warming has only twelve years to be kept at a maximum of 1.5 degrees.


It is hoped that the symbolic citizens’ assembly, which took place unexpectedly in the Debating Chamber at Holyrood, will start a nationwide conversation on the issue.

Parliament is set to debate the first stage of the new climate bill within the next six weeks, but the group says that the commitments made by the government with regards to cutting emissions are nowhere near what it should be.

The Scottish government, according to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, must actively reduce CO2 emissions by 10% each year.

Extinction Rebellion is in favour of the idea of a Special citizens’ assembly made up of select individuals from every local Scottish authority.

They would be able to hold Parliament accountable over the issue of climate change and have the power to revise and review any legislation that the Scottish Government intend to pass.

The organisation hopes that Scottish people are made to feel more included in decisions that are both important to others and the environment.

 

 

 

Cabinet Reshuffle promotes women and ethnic minorities

Theresa May has created her own generation of Tory ‘rising stars’ as her cabinet shuffle reached its conclusion yesterday.

The Prime Minister has brought in fresh talent across her cabinet, including an increase in the number of female and ethnic minority cabinet ministers.

She stated that her new government now looks ‘more like the country it serves’, after axing a number of white male MP’s over 50, and bringing in younger, female members from minority backgrounds. She insisted that this move will help her focus more on important issues such as health, housing and social care in the UK.

After these decisions yesterday, female representation in Parliament has risen from 25% to 30% and the number of female MP’s has now risen from 30 to 37, and minority MP’s from 4 to 9.

Free Lunch Cancelled for Councillors

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They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. Well, not anymore. Local councillors have been informed that they will no longer be getting free lunch at noon, as they are finishing their work too early.

The decision has led to complaints that councillors are not doing enough work, as the coalition winds down in the run up to the local elections in May.

Conservative councillor Dominic Heslop explained: “Some of the longer-serving councillors will tell you the lunch was necessary when the meetings when on until 7pm or 8pm. But when they can be over by 11.30am can it really be justified?”

Instead councillors will be offered a buffet on full council days, otherwise they will have to pay for their own lunch.

Terms set for Police Scotland undercover review

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Justice Minister Michael Matheson ordered the undercover review of Police in Scotland

Conditions have been set for an independent review into undercover police work in Scotland.

The inquiry will examine the contribution undercover policing has made to tackling crime, how it was and is supervised and regulated, and its effect on individuals involved – both police officers and others who came into contact with them.

The review was called for following numerous allegations throughout Britain that undercover police have abused their positions while carrying out operations.

The review was ordered by the Scottish government last year. It came after the UK government refused to extend a similar review in England and Wales.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson directed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to investigate the actions of undercover officers.

This strategic review will be led by HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland Derek Penman.

Scottish Electoral Board inquiry begins

A Holyrood inquiry has been launched following concerns regarding bonuses for Chief Executives during election periods.

For a number of years Election Chiefs have received extra payment for running elections, a task which many believe should be included in their annual salary. Public concern has caused local government to assess if a reform is needed.

The Scottish Parliament’s local government committee convener, Bob Doris stated:

“The committee’s heard that in the last couple of years alone, £1m of additional payments has been made.

“So we’ll need to get additional information why those payments have been made, whether they’re justified, what work’s entailed to justify those payments and to dig beneath it and find out if they’re appropriate for future elections or not.”

Concern has been growing since May after it was released that chief executives could earn a bonus of up to half a million pounds, with £165,000 for the Edinburgh top official role and £160,000 for Glasgow.The UK Cabinet reassured the public that fees were kept under review and “statutorily independent from their normal employment”.

The Chief Executive for Glasgow, received a bonus of £33,238 for the Scottish 2016 election and £21,111 for the EU Referendum.

Chairwoman of the Electoral Management Board for Scotland, Mary Pitcaithly, stated:

“It would be wholly inconsistent with practice elsewhere if duties of the scale and the degree of responsibility and the civic importance of the returning officer role were to be not remunerated at all.”

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A spokesperson for the Electoral Reform Society will give evidence to the committee.

The society’s Scottish director Willie Sullivan said:

“I think there’s a root and branch look needed at why this system is throwing up these morbid symptoms of inequality in rewarding some people huge amounts more than what ordinary people get paid.”

The committee will consider all evidence before deciding if a reform is the next step forward for the Scottish government.

 

MPs argue to postpone Tax Credit Cuts

 

 

 

MPs tell Osborne to postpone Tax Credits. Image courtesy of: Flikr/altogetherfool

MPs tell Osborne to postpone Tax Credits. Image courtesy of: Flikr/altogetherfool

 

MPs have said that George Osbourne should postpone the proposed tax credit cuts for a year to enable a balanced debate over the issue.

The planned cuts were rejected by the House of Lords, leading the chancellor to outline a reformed plan in his upcoming Autumn Statement in an attempt to lessen the impact of the cuts.

The Work and Pension’s Committee have said that there is no “magic bullet” to protect low paid workers from the proposed cuts.

MPs have also accused the Treasury of being “Unacceptably evasive” as they have yet to outline how the different income groups will be effected.

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the “architect” of tax credits, has warned that these changes will “plunge almost another million families into poverty.”

There are also arguments that the cuts will undermine the benefits system, which is ironic as Mr Osborne announced his plans to cut £4.4bn from the tax credits system as part of plans to save £12bn from the welfare bill.

The changes are due to take effect in April 2016, though opponents are still arguing against these plans, saying that more than one million existing recipients – many of whom work but are on low incomes – will be some £1,300 a year worse off as a result.

The government argues that the majority will benefit from other policies due to the increase in the personal income tax allowance and the introduction of the National Living Wage.

The committee overlooking the credit plans argue, “The benefits to those who are helped are generally dwarfed by the cuts, especially in 2016-17.” By 2020-21, 78% of families will be on average £1,500 worse off in real terms, according to their report.

MPs have also cautioned Mr Osborne to “resist the temptation to raid Universal Credit” to pay for various tax credit adjustments. There are concerns that it would “either shift the burden to different low-income families or undermine the objective of making work pay”.

The committee of MPs have stated that they believe, “One of three things has to give: the impact on poverty, work incentives or the cost.

“We recommend that if, indeed, the effects cannot be satisfactorily mitigated, the government pause any reforms to tax credits until 2017-18.

“This would allow a broader discussion of the options in their proper context.”

A Treasury spokesman commented on the report, saying it was “out of date” as Mr Osborne had previously said he would listen to concerns and announce a new transitional measure in his Autumn Statement.

The spokesperson said the examples cited in the report failed to consider other measures the government had introduced or was introducing to support working families.

The House of Lords’ decision to vote down the government’s plans to cut tax credits induced warnings of a “constitutional crisis”, and paved the way for a review of the Lords’ powers.

The review of the Lord’s powers is due to be published before Christmas.

 

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