Youth employment target met four years ahead of schedule

Pledge to step up efforts to build on progress.

The Scottish Government has fulfilled its commitment to reduce youth unemployment by 40%, four years ahead of schedule.

Analysis of the latest ONS Labour Force Survey dataset from January to March shows the level of youth unemployment excluding full-time education has fallen to 27,000 in 2017, from 52,000 in 2014, a decrease of 48.3%.

The headline target in the Scottish Government’s Developing the Young Workforce strategy was to reduce youth unemployment excluding those in full-time education by 40% between 2014 and 2021. 

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said:

“These figures are fantastic news and testament to our work to support young people in the labour market, prepare them for work and equip them with the skills the economy needs.

“Our Developing the Young Workforce programme has proven hugely successful, strengthening and diversifying our offer for young people as they progress through their education, alongside improving careers advice, work experience and modern apprenticeship opportunities.

“The most recent labour market data shows Scotland to have the lowest youth unemployment rate out of all the UK nations, and amongst the lowest in the EU. However, despite these encouraging results there is much more we can and will do to ensure our good work in this area continues.

“Our future focus will now be on expanding the range of opportunities available to young people. In particular we will continue to build on both the successful expansion of our Modern Apprenticeship programme and the initial success of Foundation Apprenticeships and Graduate Level Apprenticeships as pathways into work. This is in addition to delivering more activity for school pupils through colleges, and further strengthening partnerships between education and employers.

“Additionally, last week we announced Fair Start Scotland contracts up to the value of £96 million to create fairer employment support services, helping people facing barriers to enter the labour market and stay in work.”


Youth Unemployment in Scotland excluding those in full-time education analytical paper.

This analysis measures progress against the overarching target based on data from the Labour Force Survey from the ONS for January to March 2017.

Progress against the Developing the Young Workforce programme is assessed via the headline target and a further 11 key performance indicators scheduled to be published in December 2017.


Media enquiries

Back to top