11 Dec 2012

Local MSP, John Mason, has welcomed confirmation this afternoon from the Scottish Government that it will urgently raise the issue of enforced unpaid work placements with the Westminster Government.

The Sunday Mail reported this week that under-pressure job centre managers were actively encouraging employers to convert paid vacancies into unpaid work experience placements, in order to satisfy a Westminster Government target.

This included six-week unpaid ‘work experience’ over the busy Christmas period – often with little real prospect of paid employment afterwards.

In response to an urgent topical question in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, Youth Employment Minister, Angela Constance, said she had written to Westminster’s Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP, requesting that he thoroughly investigate the reports.

Commenting from Holyrood, Glasgow Shettleston’s MSP, John Mason, said:

“The revelation that unemployed people are being actively turned away from paid employment and into unpaid ‘work experience’ places is scandalous.

“I would have thought that the primary purposes of Job Centres – which are the UK Government’s main resource in tackling unemployment – would be to get people into paid employment.  But it appears instead that they have only targets for filling unpaid ‘work experience’ vacancies.

“There are a number of serious questions that the UK Government must answer regarding this, and I am glad that the Scottish Government is to pursue this.

“The Scottish Government is doing a huge amount with the limited powers it has to help young people back into work, with a record 25,000 Modern Apprenticeships being offered this year.

“The contrast between the Scottish Government’s paid placements and the modern-day serfdom seemingly being implemented by the Westminster Government shows why it would be far better for all of these decisions to be taken in Scotland with the normal powers of independence.”