The Scottish Government has been accused of leaving young people “on the scrap heap” as the number of new apprentice roles falls in the north-east.
Shock new figures show that new apprenticeship starts have dropped by 40% in Aberdeen and 14% in Aberdeenshire compared to the same time last year.
The north-east also has the highest levels of redundancies for the young trainees, with a quarter of jobs lost across Scotland being based in the region.
The statistics were published yesterday after the Press and Journal revealed the Scottish Government has no idea how many apprentices have lost their jobs because of the oil and gas crisis.
According to the Skills Development Scotland figures, apprenticeships in the energy and construction sectors took the biggest hit.
Last night, SDS insisted it was doing everything could to help apprentices in the north-east in “challenging times”.
But Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott said: “The drop in apprenticeships in the energy and engineering sector and the redundancies in the north-east are not surprising but they demand an urgent response from the Scottish Government.
“Scotland cannot afford to leave people on the scrap heap.”
The figures also reveal that there was a 37% drop in the number of people starting apprenticeships in the energy sector between April 1 and June 24 compared to the same period last year.
Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie said: “We know that the SNP’s response to the oil jobs crisis has not been good enough and these numbers show the cost of that in lost opportunities.”
North East MSP and Scottish Conservative spokesman for jobs, employability and training, Liam Kerr branded the figures “deeply worrying”.
Across the country, the Scottish Government remains on course to meet their target of 26,000 starts, according to the Minister for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn.
He added: “We want to go much further which is why we have an ambitious target to increase this to 30,000 by 2020.”
A spokesperson for SDS said: “We pay a contribution towards the cost of training apprentices on behalf of Scottish Government.
“During challenging times for industry we continue to support employers to take on Modern Apprentices through funding support and direct work with businesses across Scotland and in the north-east.
“Recognising the difficulties in the oil and gas industry, the Adopt an Apprentice incentive offers employers in the sector an enhanced payment of £5,000 and continued support to take on apprentices who have been made redundant.”