05 February 2009


Labourís Budget Deal will bring New Jobs to the Highlands and Islands

North MSPs are welcoming a Labour budget deal which could see more than 700 new apprenticeships come to the Highlands and Islands.

In a bid to address youth skills and preparing for the economic upturn Labour had demanded the SNP increase the number of apprenticeships by 7,800 next year.

According to Labour MSP, Peter Peacock, if the North gets its proportionate share of those jobs it will mean over 700 new jobs Ė with the same again in prospect the following year.

"There has been a drop in the number of apprenticeships in Scotland and Labour felt it was vital that this budget reflected the need for skilled jobs for our young people during this economic downturn which will help stimulate our local economy and prepare for the upturn in the economy," said Mr Peacock.

"This deal Labour have struck to guarantee new opportunities and protect existing apprentices from the effects of redundancy could have been achieved last week had the SNP not preferred to play brinkmanship with the budget process and try to do a deal with only one minority party.

"From now on if apprentices are laid off they will be guaranteed an alternative so they can qualify.

"It is important that our apprentices have security in the knowledge that if they start an apprenticeship they will be able to finish it.

"Labourís stance has secured this opportunity for guaranteed training for young people in the Highlands and Islands and allows a budget to pass which brings extra benefits.

"In addition our demand for a town centre regeneration fund has been granted, despite the SNP and Tories voting against it in last year's budget. We will now be pushing for north towns to get access to the fund.

"While there are many aspects of the budget we still disagree with, holding out for a better deal has proved to be entirely justified and worthwhile and none of the dire predictions of last week, most of which were overstated and bogus, have proved to be true."


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