The Scottish Government has confirmed funding for modern apprenticeships for the next financial year after they were accused of leaving thousands of young people "in limbo."

Last month, the Scottish Training Federation (STF) issued a press release warning that because Skills Development Scotland’s (SDS) budget had not been signed off by ministers they were unable to issue contracts to training providers, colleges and employers.

This, they said, would mean a freeze on new places being available, affecting thousands of young people who had expected to start a new Modern Apprenticeship on April 1.

They added that it was unclear if the delay was due to a “bureaucratic process” or if the Scottish Government was “seeking to cut the budget for Modern Apprenticeships.”

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STF Chief Executive, Stuart McKenna, said: “It’s ironic that this week the UK Government has announced 20,000 more apprenticeships and an increase in budget of £60 million for England, but in Scotland we are still struggling to get contracts issued in a timely manner.

“This freeze will leave many apprentices, training providers and employers in limbo.

“We urgently need the Scottish Government to agree the SDS budget so that delivery contracts can be issued.”

When contacted by The Herald, the Scottish Government confirmed that they had now “agreed the SDS budget and SDS have been asked to contract for Modern Apprenticeship starts in 2024/25 at a similar level to 2023/24, despite the incredibly challenging financial circumstances facing government.”

A spokesperson added: “There are also 38,000 Modern Apprentices in training at this point in time, who will continue to be supported through their training.”

In a statement, SDS said: “Following confirmation from the Scottish Government, SDS is progressing Modern Apprenticeship contract awards for 2024/25 new starts and in-training in line with procurement processes.”

When asked if the confirmation only came after the STF press release, the SDS spokesperson said, “yes.”

Scottish Labour Economy and Skills spokesperson Daniel Johnson said “This shambles exposes the chaos at the heart of this SNP government and the lasting damage it is doing.

“This incompetent SNP government refused to resolve this issue until the eleventh hour, leaving thousands of apprenticeships in limbo.

“Young people are being failed and our economy is being weakened by the SNP’s mismanagement of our skills system.

“Scottish Labour will overhaul our skills system so it gives people the opportunities they deserve and equips workers for the jobs of the future.”

Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservative shadow education secretary said: “SNP ministers have been forced into a humiliating climbdown on this vital matter.

“It should not have taken concerted lobbying by the Scottish Training Federation for them to finally stop dithering and sort out funding for modern apprenticeships.

“They should offer an urgent apology for leaving thousands of young people in limbo for so long and ensure that funding will be in place to avoid such a situation occurring again.”