Scotland politics

Arnold Clark boss fails to attend Holyrood committee

The boss of a company critical of work-shy young people has failed to attend a Holyrood committee.

David Scott, chief executive of GTG Training - which is owned by car dealer Arnold Clark, was expected to expand on his controversial claims.

Mr Scott had asserted that four-fifths of school leavers seeking an apprenticeship were unsuitable.

MSPs said they were disappointed that Mr Scott sent his apologies, citing an "unforeseen business requirement".

In a written report ahead of the finance committee meeting, GTG Training said some young people:

  • Have a poor attitude
  • Wholly unrealistic expectations
  • And are unprepared for long working hours.

It added that of 2,280 applicants to its apprenticeship scheme, 81% were not employable.

GTG Training's evidence to the committee said: "We acknowledge that we may well be recruiting at the lower end of the achievement spectrum and so it might be better to view us as a highly effective safety net, saving almost 20% from lifetime unemployment.

"But we really do believe that more can be achieved for the unsaved majority with intelligent and innovative interventions, provided there is the political will to effect change."

Michael McMahon, a Labour MSP on the committee, said he hoped Mr Scott had had a good reason for not attending and it was not down to a "poor attitude".

The politician questioned whether businesses, rather than school leavers, had a "wholly unrealistic expectation".

He added: "I left school at 15 and had an apprenticeship. I'm not sure I was entirely ready for what I encountered. It took me a long time to get into my stride."

SNP committee member Mark McDonald said: "I'm disappointed that the representative from GTG, Arnold Clark, isn't here. I think it was a fairly provocative submission, certainly the language that was used within it, and I think it would have merited some probing and some challenge.

"Describing people as not employable at all is a bit generalistic."

Conservative committee member Gavin Brown called for clarification of GTG's figures.

He said: "How did they reach the conclusion that 1,850 people were not employable at all? I think that's an important question to ask.

"I would be interested to know out of that 1,850, how many did they actually meet or interview, as opposed to it being a paper-based exercise?"

'Matter for committee'

In a statement, Arnold Clark Automobiles said: "Due to an unforeseen business requirement, David Scott advised the committee that he was unable to attend."

Mr Scott would be invited to attend another committee hearing, convener Kenneth Gibson said.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "Appearances at committee are rightly a matter for the relevant committee, parliament and individual witnesses.

"We have regular and positive discussions with a wide range of training providers, but there was no contact made between the Scottish government and Arnold Clark or GTG Training yesterday.

"The youth employment minister has made clear that she is extremely willing to speak to any employer in Scotland about opportunities for young people, and she has previously had positive discussions with Arnold Clark and GTG Training, as well as many other training providers, on an ongoing basis."

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