SCOTTISH Labour have called for guaranteed jobs for all women after female unemployment rose during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Party leader Richard Leonard said he wants the Government to implement a jobs guarantee similar to the scheme for young people announced as part of a £50 million funding package for youth employment.

Latest figures showed a 0.7% increase in the number of unemployed women between March and May. Scotland’s overall unemployment rate is now 4.3%, but 4.4% of women are out of work. The Government’s latest labour market figures show the unemployment rate for women has risen by 1.5% in the past year and by 0.7% since the first three months of 2020.

Leonard said: “The rise in unemployment among women in Scotland is truly alarming.

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“Unless the Scottish Government sets up a quality jobs guarantee scheme which includes targeted support for women as well as young people, the progress we have made in narrowing the gap between men and women in the workplace will be set back decades.”

The proposal from Scottish Labour calls for guaranteed jobs, paid at no less than the real living wage, regardless of age, investment in “growth industries” such as the environmental sector and employment “underpinned by childcare provision”.

Leonard added: “The gap has widened rapidly during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is likely to have been caused in part by hospitality job losses and childcare pressures amid the closure of schools.

“There is still too much uncertainty about schools going back, and it is likely that job losses when the furlough scheme ends will disproportionately affect women. But it is clear that unemployment was rising among women prior to March.”

Leonard claimed: “Just as Scotland was unprepared for the public health and care crisis, Scotland is also unprepared for the coming economic crisis and the widening inequalities it is likely to cause unless we intervene now.”

Announcing the £100m of funding for employment support, which includes the jobs guarantee for young people, Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop warned the pandemic could mean levels of unemployment not experienced since the 1980s.