VOLUNTARY groups are to receive £4million to create job opportunities for young people, the First Minister has announced.

Alex Salmond rev­ealed the cash in a speech to a Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations conference in Glasgow.

The Community Jobs Scotland programme will fund up to 1200 opportunities for employment programmes,to help people into work.Mr Salmond made the opening speech at the annual conference, The Gathering, at the SECC.

He said one quarter of the opportunities would be for disabled and young people from troubled backgrounds.

Mr Salmond praised the work of the voluntary sector in delivering work in communities and help for vulnerable people across society.

He said: "The third sector's 45,000 organisations in Scotland, your 130,000 employees and more than one million volunteers, all of you are absolutely central to the wellbeing of communities across the country.

"This government hugely values the work you do, often in partnership with central or local government, in alleviating poverty, helping to reform public services, creating employment opportunities, and

setting up successful social enterprises.

"We want to include you in our decision-making, to involve you in providing and reforming public services, and to work with you in building a fairer and more prosperous country."

Martin Sime, SCVO chief executive, said: "The announcement of more investment in Community Jobs Scotland will allow the third sector to help change the lives of even more young people.

"Community jobs Scotland works for the young people who get a paid job and it works for the third sector organisations which benefit from extra staff ­support to help meet growing demand."