Developing the young workforce: fifth annual progress report 2018-2019

Fifth annual report of developing the young workforce covers academic year 2018 to 2019 and highlights early progress made in the first part of academic year 2019-2020.


Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) is Scotland's youth employment strategy - to reduce youth unemployment levels by 40% by 2021.

DYW aims to increase choices for young people in schools and colleges, and to increase opportunities for employment. It does this by bringing together schools, colleges, training providers and employers to promote the pathways young people need to participate in current and future work opportunities. This includes creating new work based learning options; enabling young people to learn in a range of settings in their Senior Phase of school; embedding employer engagement in education; offering careers advice at an earlier point in school; and introducing new standards for career education and work placements.

The strategy continues to be supported by local authorities, who have a lead role in the implementation of DYW, enabling young people to have access to a wide range of work-related learning opportunities within their area. This is achieved through partnership working across schools, colleges, training providers, employers and other relevant partners.

The Scottish Government committed to annual reporting on the progress of the Developing the Young Workforce Programme. This fifth annual report covers academic year 2018/19 and highlights early progress made in the first part of academic year 2019/20.

This report offers an assessment of progress through each chapter, and an overall assessment through our performance against Key Performance Indicators, which are explained in Chapter 6 of this report.

How are we doing?

In October 2019, the Developing Young Workforce programme was awarded the Silver Future Policy Award by the World Future Council. The World Future Council is an National Government Organisation made up of 50 eminent Global change makers who look at the best policies for development and sustainability across the world. The award, in partnership with UN Agencies and the Inter-parliamentary Union, acknowledges policies that create better living conditions for current and future generations. Each year one topic is identified on which policy progress is particularly urgent. Also known as "Oscar for Best Policies", the Future Policy Award highlights the world's most impactful policies which empower youth. The other winning laws and policies come from Rwanda, Estonia, Nepal, USA, Senegal, South Africa and Europe.

We continue to meet the DYW Programme's headline target, to reduce youth unemployment in Scotland, excluding those in full-time education, by 40% by 2021, having initially achieved this in 2017 – four years ahead of schedule.

Due to the substantial decrease in the unemployment level and rate (excluding those in full-time education) for 16-24 year olds over recent years, we now measure the headline target differently. The data source for this KPI is now based on estimates from the Annual Population Survey (APS), rather than the previously used Labour Force Survey (LFS). Changes in the unemployment level and rate mean that the LFS sample size is now too small to provide reliable estimates. The APS has a larger sample size than the LFS, and provides more robust information for this measure.

As a result of this change in data source, the numerical target has been revised from 31,000 to 29,000 in order to maintain the overarching 40 per cent target specified in the KPI. In 2018, the number of 16-24 year olds who were unemployed (excluding those in full-time education) was 25,000 – a slight increase from 24,000 in 2017.

Despite the small increase in the level of youth unemployment over the year, we have continued to achieve the headline target for the Developing the Young Workforce programme, with a decrease of 23,000 (47.4 %) since the baseline in 2014.

Although the target continues to be achieved, we are mindful of the role played by wider economic and social factors. It remains important therefore that we continue our long term plans to strengthen education and skills partnerships. This is to ensure we can better guarantee the equity of experience across Scotland and minimise any downturn in youth employment should economic conditions become less favourable.

Other headlines this year include:

  • There has been a year on year increase in the number of school leavers achieving vocational qualifications at SCQF level 5 and above. 14.8% of 2017/18 school leavers achieved a vocational qualification. This is an increase of 2 percentage points since 2016/17, and an increase of 7.5 percentage points since the baseline in 2013/14;
  • An increasing number of senior phase pupils are enrolling on vocational qualifications at college, at SCQF level 5 and above, since DYW was introduced. 5,216 young people were enrolled on these courses as of 2017/18, an increase of 692 in 2016/17 (when the figure was 4,510) and an increase of 3,101 since the baseline in 2013/14 (when the figure was 2,101);
  • Over 5,000 Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities are available this academic year. We also see an increasing number of young people starting Foundation Apprenticeships. In 2018, 1,532 young people enrolled on a Foundation Apprenticeship. This is an increase of 287 since 2017, when 1,245 people enrolled, Each year since baseline, Foundation Apprenticeship enrolments have increased:
    • 346 enrolments in 2016
    • 269 enrolments in 2015
    • 63 enrolments in 2014, the baseline figure
  • An expansion of Modern Apprenticeships starts, with 27,270 MA starts in 2018/19. This is an increase of 125 compared to 2017/18, and an increase of 1,986 on the baseline figure (2013/14).

Promoting diversity and inclusion

We want DYW to impact on all young people, regardless of their circumstance or background. Indeed, we have progressed much already, for example, by meeting the Wood Commission's expectation for there to be gender and equality actions plans, taken forward by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

There is much to do and in this year, we have consulted with a number of specialist organisations to enhance our approach. We continue to engage with Close the Gap to consider additional steps to remove gender stereotyping within education and are aligning this activity with the recommendations from A Fairer Scotland for Women: gender pay gap action plan. In schools we have engaged with the Scottish Transitions Forum to support increased focus on equalities. Looking forward we will be seeking to bring expert partners closer to DYW implementation, to support the shaping of future activity.

In addition, as part of the STEM Strategy, Education Scotland's 'Improving Gender Balance and Equalities' (IGBE) team has been in place since January 2019 and are tackling issues around equity in subject choice and learner pathways. They engage with teachers and practitioners to identify and address the underlying causes of gender imbalances in participation and attainment at every stage for ages 3-18 years, and will establish local networks of practitioners to enable the expansion of the programme with the aim of improving the support available to teachers and practitioners. This also includes the delivery of key messages around employability, career choices, gender pay gap etc. alongside their core priorities of challenging gender stereotypes, addressing unconscious bias, and promoting whole-establishment approaches to equality.

To date the team have had direct engagement with 45 clusters and over 500 practitioners have attended CLPL through a range of opportunities and events. The teams engagement also included workshops for 470 learners led by an IGBE officer. Over the next year the team will focus on embedding their work across the RICs. The overall aim is for the team to have embedded positive approaches to tackling gender imbalance and other inequities in STEM learning by 2022.

Supporting employers to deliver positive outcomes for disabled and care experienced young people

The DYW Regional Groups have placed additional focus on supporting both disabled and care-experienced young people into work inspiration activity and employment. This will involve the identifying and sharing of good practice, to better understand the impacts and outcomes of such practice.

Responding to the Education and Skills Committee and progress

In this year the Education and Skills Committee set the programme a further challenge following their inquiry into young people's pathways. We have set out our response to this in ANNEX A. Partners have adapted the Committee's recommendations as part of their ongoing work and they have been included in our succession planning beyond 2021.

The year ahead

As we enter the sixth year of implementation, we are focused on:

  • Improving outcomes for disabled and care-experienced young people;
  • Increasing the number of opportunities for young people to engage in work-based learning; and
  • Supporting more employers to engage in DYW activity, including increasing the number of school-employer partnerships.

Senior Phase Review

In December 2019, the Deputy First Minister commissioned a review of the Senior Phase curriculum. This review will be an opportunity for the system as a whole to learn together. It will explore further how Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is being implemented for young people in S4-S6 across the country, and identify any improvements that might be made to support the best outcomes for all learners.

The Review is in response to the Education and Skills Committee Inquiry into Subject Choices conducted in 2019. During its Inquiry, the committee gathered evidence that schools are offering a wider range of courses and qualifications than ever before, in part due to the good progress of the DYW programme.

The Review recognises the need for stability in the system and, as such, this review will not focus exclusively on national qualifications. Instead, it will address many of the themes in the Committee's report and the breadth of the "offer" throughout the Senior Phase. In particular, this will focus on:

  • The current understanding of the purpose of the Senior Phase;
  • The pace of change;
  • Existing national and local support for implementation of the Senior Phase;
  • The Senior Phase curriculum offer in S4, S5 and S6 and equality of the offer across the country;
  • The impact of different Senior Phase approaches on attainment/outcomes;
  • The impact of approaches to learning and teaching;
  • Reviewing the Coherence between the Broad General Education (BGE) and Senior Phase;
  • The impact on specific subjects.

The Review will present a useful opportunity to gather a greater understanding of the broader educational offer presented to today's young people and will support us in identifying future activity, between now and 2021 and will also provide an evidence base and clear focus for post-DYW activity.

Planning for beyond 2021

At its most recent meeting, the DYW Programme Board considered in detail the likelihood of the programme's successful completion.

The board was of the opinion that:

  • A significant step-change had occurred, which in part had created the challenges that were now being faced;
  • What had been developed was of real value, but that this needed to be fully evidenced in terms of the impact on the learner and the employer;
  • We should protect what has been achieved as part of a continuing commitment for further change;
  • We haven't yet sufficiently achieved a culture change within and across the education system, such that if we were to stop we could be confident the progress would be sustained.

Looking ahead, the Board agreed that, at the end of the programme:

  • There will likely be a sub-set of legacy issues that will require continued focus;
  • There will be a requirement of some form of governance and oversight, recognising the cross system change that will continue to be required.

In support of the programme's successful completion, the Board identified four strategic priorities that it felt now needed to be addressed:

  • The Foundation Apprenticeship and getting its design right as part of a sustainable vocational offer in school;
  • Messaging & addressing the subject choice challenge;
  • Measuring the right things to support uptake;
  • Equalities and ensuring we are reaching the right groups.

In the final years of the programme, we will have continued focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education and Training Strategy, which aims to promote and support the development of STEM skills for life as well as for work throughout the education and training landscape. We published our first annual report on the progress of the strategy in February 2019, with a clear focus on supporting DYW implementation.

We will see DYW continue to be progressed as part of the implementation of the recommendations from the 15-24 Learner Journey review. Additionally, in September, the Scottish Government published its Future Skills Action Plan, developed in conjunction with stakeholders across the education system. It outlines our vision for Scotland's skills system, a system which understands and responds at pace to the needs of business and is responsive to shifting wider economic circumstances, building on the progress in establishing school, college and employer partnerships through the DYW programme.

Case Study: Inver Racers – four young learners on pole position for their learner journeys.

Inver Racers is an example of school, college and employer collaboration and a prime example of how DYW has supported partnership working to give young people the opportunity to participate in new ways of learning. West College Scotland work in partnership with schools in Inverclyde to deliver projects where S4 pupils from schools in the region attend the college 1 day a week and are taught the necessary skills by the college motor vehicle and engineering team to build and race a Formula 24 electric race kart.

To support West College Scotland with the project, the DYW West Regional Group engages with employers in the region to support the pupils to develop other skills to get them to the race – for example PR across social media, press releases, video blogs and sponsorship. The team of young people attend Chamber of Commerce and other associated business gatherings to promote their work and seek sponsorship for their race kart.

This year, the Inver Races were four pupils from Inverclyde Academy. They entered and won the main Scottish heat of Greenpower at East Fortune in Easter 2019. This was followed up by a second place finish at the next race in Aberdeen. As a result of their success they earned a place at the International Final in October 2019 at Silverstone the British home
of Formula 1.

In August, Stuart McMillan, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, met the team and helped arrange a visit by the Deputy First Minister John Swinney – helping the pupils raise further funds towards all race costs that include race fees, travel, accommodation, car hire, spare parts, clothing and race branding.

During the international final, the Inver Racers completed the race beating many established teams from all over the world. On the day the Inver Racers were interviewed by the BBC and filmed by ITV Anglia West- both recordings were broadcast. At the prize giving Inver Racers were awarded the prize for best social media from the 100 teams that reached the final.

The four pupils have now completed their motor vehicle qualification and continue to attend the college progressing to the next level of qualification.

Inver Racers provided the pupils with the opportunity to build their confidence, develop real tangible employability skills and have achieved something that they will remember for all their lives, can put in CVs, discuss at interviews and talk about with their families and friends for years to come.



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