Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 13:34 UK

Jobless offered government work

Job centre screen
The measures will be targeted at the long term unemployed

More jobs in the Scottish Government are to be opened up to unemployed people, it has been announced.

Measures to increase take up include mentoring, placements, and training.

The moves are intended to help those facing the biggest difficulties in securing employment, such as lone parents and disabled people.

Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop made the announcement at a "welfare to work" summit in Stirling, where Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy also spoke.

In a sharp criticism of the Scottish Government, he defended the "efficiency savings" planned for spending in Scotland next year and attacked "irresponsible" complaints from the SNP.

Ms Hyslop said the Government had signed Scotland's first "local employment partnership" with job centres.

The agreements enable employers to choose ways of helping the most disadvantaged find work.

These can range from pre-employment and on-the-job training to reviewing recruitment procedures.

'Political dogma'

"By signing this local employment partnership, the Scottish Government is demonstrating its commitment to help those with increased barriers to employment get into work," she said.

"People are our most valuable resource and I am determined to ensure that everyone in our society has the opportunity to get into work or back into work so that they can contribute to Scotland's future economic success and help it recover from the current downturn."

Mr Murphy told the summit of a £95m programme announced earlier this week to provide employment or training for under-25s who have been on Jobseekers' Allowance for a year.

The programme will create 15,000 jobs, and came on top of other measures announced for Scotland in Chancellor Alistair Darling's budget, he said.

He went on to argue that the cuts in next year's Scottish budget - Labour puts the figure at £367m while the SNP said it is nearly £500m - should be achievable.

The Scottish Government had seen its budget doubled to £34.8bn after a decade of devolution and Westminster is also spending £22.5bn in Scotland on reserved matters like defence and welfare, Mr Murphy said.

"For the Scottish Government to constantly complain about cuts while we are increasing investment in public services, including their budget, is to pursue an argument based on political dogma in denial of the facts," he said.

"It is wholly irresponsible and of no help to Scots trying to cope with recession.

"Scots are entitled to better than this, rightly expecting their politicians to work together during the downturn."

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