More than 10,000 publicly funded apprenticeships to help unemployed people have been given to people already in work, according to figures released by the Scottish Labour Party.
In its election manifesto, the SNP pledged 25,000 apprenticeships to help young Scots struggling to find work.
But four out of ten apprenticeships have gone to people who have been in their job for more than six months according to the figures obtained from Skills Development Scotland by Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale.
Among the 26,000 Modern Apprenticeships started last year, 61% of recipients had been in their post for up to six months, with the rest – 39% – in work for longer than six months. Among 16- to 19-year-olds, the figure for those in work for less than six months was 81% – with 19% having been in their job for longer than that.
Dugdale, the Labour party’s spokeswoman on youth employment, said: “One of the Scottish Government’s flagship policies has been exposed as a blatant con. They said they had created 25,000 apprenticeships. What they actually did was take at least 10,000 people who were already in jobs and re-badge their employment as apprenticeships.
“The SNP have been exposed. They did not create 25,000 new opportunities for people seeking jobs. All they created was a set of crooked figures in an attempt to deceive the Scottish people. Had Alex Salmond tried to create 25,000 modern apprenticeships and failed, he could have at least have been praised for trying. But the truth is that the Scottish Government didn’t even try. They came up with a slogan, not a policy.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to maximising the employability and enhancing the life chances of our young people. Last year, after investing £72 million into the programme, we delivered in excess of 25,000 modern apprenticeships (MAs), a record for any administration in Scotland.
“Many of those apprentices classed as having been with their existing employer for up to six months will in fact have started there as an MA. But there will be cases where they do not start their training straightaway, such as college term times or the employer wishing to assess the suitability of the individual to undertake a qualification under their watch.
“Since 2009, we have helped more than 35,000 16- to 19-year-olds into the labour market and have reaffirmed our commitment that most vulnerable of ages groups through Opportunities for All, a unique offer of a place in education or training.”
The Scottish Parliament is due to debate youth employment later this week.