Publication - Research and analysis

Activity Agreements National Implementation 2011-12

Published: 13 Nov 2013

This paper provides a summary of reported participation in Activity Agreements during the first full year of the national roll-out of the programme (1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012). The paper outlines characteristics and outcomes for young people that have either completed or dropped out of an Activity Agreement during this period.

Activity Agreements National Implementation 2011-12
Policy Context

Policy Context

Participation in an Activity Agreement is currently included as a positive destination in the School Leaver Destination Return (SLDR), the primary means by which Scottish Government, local authorities and other delivery partners monitor the post-school transitions of young people in Scotland. The current focus on initial and sustained 'destinations' as defined by the SLDR concentrates on activity around the first transition a young person makes on leaving school and is not designed to acknowledge and record less formal learning options and support. The developing policy landscape demands recognition that the learning and training young people are engaged with are stepping stones to facilitate continued progression and not ends in themselves. As such the new measures will focus on activities young people are currently participating in rather than a destination to recognise the need for ongoing support.

Please Note: This report refers to "outcomes" from learning undertaken as part of an Activity Agreement. These outcomes would previously have been described as 'positive or negative destinations' and now reflect either continued participation in, or disengagement from learning, training or work.

What data are included in the analysis?

1 To date we have received information on a total of 2,589 participants from 32 local authorities. This relates to individuals who have completed or dropped out of their Activity Agreement between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012. After the quality assurance process (removing duplicate records and those without sign up or exit dates) a valid sample of 2,266 remains broken down as follows:

Completers (excluding those who were not offered, didn't sign up, or dropped out 1,647 (73%)
Drop-outs (signed up but dropped out part way through the agreed programme) 619 (27%)
Total Valid Sample 2,266 (100%)

2 Unless stated otherwise, figures will be given throughout the paper for the total valid sample of 2,266 individuals. Where data are missing for a particular variable, this is presented as a partial sample. Please see Annex 1 (page 5) for more information on the limitations of the data and the quality assurance process.

Characteristics of leavers from Activity Agreements

3 The following section provides some narrative on the characteristics of leavers from the second full year of the national programme.

  • Age: The majority of young people in the sample (80%) are aged 16-17.
  • Gender: Slightly more leavers are male (55%) than female (45%).
  • Qualifications: Just over half of leavers (51%) have no qualifications at all. A further 44% of leavers have qualifications between SCQF Levels 1 and 4. Within the adult population (age 25+), those with qualifications at or below SCQF level 4 are identified as being "low skilled".[1] Only 5.6% of the sample have qualifications at intermediate level or above (SCQF 5 +).
  • Additional Support Needs: Just over two-fifths of leavers have some form of additional support needs (43%) and by far the main issue reported is social, emotional or behavioural difficulties (28% of all leavers).
  • 'Looked After' and Care Leavers: The data show that 14% of leavers were reported as being care leavers and 14% were looked after/subject to a supervision order. Of these, 4% were in both groups.
  • History of Offending: 17% of leavers from this cohort had some reported history of offending.
  • Drug / Alcohol Problems: 12% of leavers were reported as having drug or alcohol problems.
  • Young Carers: small numbers of young people reported any caring responsibilities, whether as a parent (3%) or in relation to another/relative (4%).

Details on the nature of young people's participation

4 Referral into an Activity Agreement: The majority of leavers were referred onto an Activity Agreement through Skills Development Scotland (36%); a further 27% were referred by schools and 11% were from social work.

5 Education Maintenance Allowance: 45% of leavers were reported as having received Education Maintenance Allowance. This is a similar proportion to that identified in the pilot evaluation[2] (40%).

Duration of Activity Agreements

6 With regards to the duration of an Activity Agreement, the data so far suggest that more than two thirds (69%) of young people complete (or exit) their Activity Agreement within 6 months and a further 16% leave within 9 months. A more detailed breakdown of the data is provided in table 12.

7 Around two-fifths of young people (41%) were referred and signed-up to their Activity Agreement on the same day and a further third (35%) were signed-up within a month of referral.

Participation and outcomes after an Activity Agreement

8 Analysis of data for this group of leavers (completers and drop-outs) suggests that two-thirds (67%) go on to a participate in learning or work; 15% were unemployed (or otherwise disengaged[3]) and 18% were reported as having an unknown or 'other' (unspecified) outcome[4] (see table 13)

9 Further analysis of the data shows that those who completed their Activity Agreement had markedly better outcomes than those who left the programme early (see tables 13a-c):

  • Of those who completed their Activity Agreement (n=1,647), 88% went on to other learning, training or work; 6% became unemployed (or otherwise disengaged) and 6% were reported as having an unknown or 'other' (unspecified) outcome.
  • Of those who dropped out of their Activity Agreement before completion (n=619), 11% went on to other learning, training or work; 39% became unemployed (or otherwise disengaged) and 50% were recorded as having an unknown or 'other' (unspecified) outcome.

10 This finding is tentative as the numbers of young people dropping out are small in comparison to the completers group. It is also sometimes the case that the reason for drop-out is the destination (eg: a person drops out of an activity agreement in order to start a full-time job or full-time further education). However, it would suggest that there are benefits to young people in completing the agreed programme of support.

Factors that influence outcomes

11 Analysis of destinations data by key personal characteristics[5] and MCMC risk variables[6] suggests that there are a number of factors which may work in combination or individually to impact on outcomes (see tables 14-18).

12 In terms of personal characteristics, basic analysis suggests:

  • Age: Some evidence of a pattern of decreasing positive outcomes by age (15- to 18-year-olds)[7]. Higher than average numbers of 15 and 16-year-olds progress to participate in other learning, training or work, whereas this falls below average for 17, 18 and 19-year-olds (see table 14).
  • Gender: A slightly lower proportion of young women (66%) than young men (68%) go on to participate in learning, training or work (see table 15).
  • Qualifications: Fewer young people with no qualifications go on to participate in learning, training or work when compared with both the overall average and young people with low or intermediate qualifications (see table 16).
  • Additional support needs: No evidence that those with additional support needs are at a disadvantage. Young people with some needs appear to be less likely to continue on into learning, training or work than others, but cell sizes are too small to draw any firm conclusions from these data (see table 17).
  • Duration of Activity Agreement: Some evidence that those whose Activity Agreements last for longer than 6 months may not be as likely to progress successfully into learning or training or work (see table 18).

13 Initial analysis of the influence of 'risk' factors on outcomes suggests:

  • Young people who have a history of offending or who have drugs/alcohol problems are less likely to have positive outcomes (see tables 19 and 20).
  • Young people who are caring for their own child are less likely (than average) to progress into learning, training or work, but they appear to be more likely than other groups to move into 'other' (unspecified) activities, rather than disengaging from learning, training or work. This may signal that they are accessing other forms of support/provision. Conversely, young people who are caring for another relative are more likely (than average) to progress into learning, training or work (see table 21).
  • Care leavers are less likely (than average) to have a positive outcome, but there are also more participating in 'other' (unspecified) activities than young people who are not care leavers, suggesting that they may be more likely to require further support to keep them engaged with learning or training or to progress into a job. (see table 22).
  • Finally, being looked after appears to be associated with a lower chance of a positive progression from an Activity Agreement. Actual numbers of looked after young people were fairly low and the data on outcomes suggest they are more likely (than average) to progress into unknown destinations (see table 23).

For further information please contact:

Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning Analysis

Scottish Government

Tel: 0300 244 6793


Email: David Jack