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.

Chapter 4: Employers

A network of 21 employer-led regional groups in place, supporting the delivery of school-employer partnerships across the country.

Key Indicators

Outcomes (KPIs)

  • The percentage of employers recruiting young people directly from education has remained stable at 32% since the baseline was measured in 2014;
  • The 2019 Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2019 shows 20% of employers had offered a work placement to a school pupil in the last 12 months – a reduction of 1 percentage point from 21% in 2016 (UK CES Employer Perspectives Survey);
  • This survey also shows 15% of Scottish employers have conducted work inspiration activities (for example, mentoring support or employer visits to speak at schools, colleges and universities, an increase from 13% in 2016 – (UK CES Employer Perspectives Survey).


  • In 2018, 358 employers achieved the Investors in Young People accolade, an increase of 14 from 2016 (344);
  • In 2016, 19% of employers recruited a school leaver, the same percentage as in 2014, and an increase of 2 percentage points since 2013 (baseline year, when the figure was 17%);
  • In 2016, 39% of employers offered a work experience placement, an increase of 2 percentage points from 37% in 2014 (baseline year). The proportion of employers offering work inspiration activities decreased by 8 percentage points since 2014 and 2016, from 21% to 13%.

(This activity delivers on the Developing the Young Workforce Recommendations 11, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 24, 36, 39).

Through DYW we are committed to bringing employers and education together to support the development of a curriculum offer that equips young people with the skills, knowledge and experience that is relevant for both existing and future labour markets. Central to this ambition is the development of a network of 21 DYW employer-led regional groups – covering the length and breadth of the country.

This year, Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the groups in recognition of the positive progress they have made since the outset of the programme.

We continue to prioritise engaging employers with education to support the development of strategic partnerships, leading to a higher standard of work inspiration activity within schools and an increasing vocational offer for young people across the education system.

We are also supporting employers, from the public, private and third sectors to engage in DYW to contribute to the Scottish Government's ambition for every school cluster, i.e. secondary schools and associated primaries, to be working with a STEM partner.


Key themes and milestones for employer engagement

  • Enhanced industry leadership and engagement;
  • Stronger, effective partnerships between employers and education;
  • Recruitment of young people at the heart of workforce planning across the private, public and third sectors.

Last year we developed guidance on school employer partnerships in conjunction with partners across education, local authorities, employers and the DYW Regional Groups. The guidance makes clear our ambition to increase the number of influential partnerships – where schools and employers are working together to inform curriculum planning and delivery and provide work-related and contextualised learning experiences and opportunities which meet the needs of all learners.

Are we seeing more employers engaging with schools?

Schools and the DYW Regional Groups have been using this guidance to develop new and innovative partnerships and to increase the level of school-employer engagements. In October, the groups reported the following number of partnerships nationally:

  • 2,350 at engagement level - where employers engage with schools to deliver one-off events, such as careers fayres;
  • 1,099 at collaborating level - where employers and schools co-deliver projects; and
  • 102 influencing partnerships - employers participating in curriculum design and delivery.

Based on this data all schools now have some degree of school/employer partnership in place. In addition, the DYW Regional Groups have supported employers to create 100 partnerships with Additional Support Needs schools or units. The groups are focused on increasing the level of these partnerships in order to deliver more influencing partnerships in the years ahead.

This year Education Scotland completed an information gathering exercise in partnership with the National DYW Leads Network which included a question on school-employer partnerships. Output from this showed;

  • 80% of secondary schools were benefitting from meaningful and productive school-employer partnerships;
  • 84% work with partners develop the senior phase offer;
  • 78% utilise the Work Placements Standard to shape an offer for young people.

In the year ahead we will be using this information to better understand how these partnerships are benefitting learners and assess the extent to which existing good practice can be replicated nationally.

DYW Regional Group profile: DYW Ayrshire

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Ayrshire was awarded funding in August 2015. We work closely with our host organisation Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and our key stakeholders including East, North and South Ayrshire Councils, Ayrshire College, Skills Development Scotland, and the wider business community.

Now in its fourth year of delivery our aim is to increase engagement between employers and education. We continue to develop new innovative approaches to education-employer partnerships; develop work based learning options which enable our young people to learn in a range of settings and ensure they have the skills and knowledge required to reach their full potential.

A key focus for us has been our innovative school projects which we continue to fund in partnership with The Princes Trust and Ayrshire College. The projects help to develop the employability skills of our young people and since our inception 80 projects have been funded. Examples include barista, rural, bike repair, construction, early years & cyber security projects. Over 1200 accreditations were awarded in the last academic session 2018-19.

Priorities for the coming year include:

  • Working with partners to ensure DYW continues to be embedded within the curriculum and across the wider system;
  • Continuing to ensure that the needs of those who face additional barriers when progressing through the education system and into employment are recognised;
  • Engaging more employers in education as well as supporting those who are already involved to sustain their engagement;
  • Supporting our education colleagues in ensuring the messages within the Careers Education Standard 3-18 and Work Placements Standard are reaching the classroom;
  • Strengthening school/employer partnerships in schools;
  • Continuing to have an equalities focus which will support the development of fairer and more diverse workplaces that deliver outcomes for every individual.

Our commitment to Fair Work

Building on the First Minister's 'Fair Work First' announcement in October 2018, a Fair Work Action Plan was published, in February 2019. The action plan includes a commitment to a new benchmarking tool to help employers assess their current practices and to provide guidance on how to make their workplaces fairer. The approach to delivering Fair Work is built on collaboration and engagement.

Actions from the plan cover three broad themes aiming to;

  • Support employers to adopt Fair Work practices;
  • Deliver Fair Work to a diverse and inclusive workforce;
  • Embed Fair Work across the Scottish Government.

Achievements this year include:

We can expect to see further impact on the employment of young people as a result of the Fair Work Action Plans implementation and are committed to working with employer organisations to support them to adopt and benefit from fairer workplace practices. Embedding Fair Work in the workplace is good for businesses and their sustainable growth and we will seek to align the activity within this area with that of the DYW Regional Groups.

Disability Employment Action Plan

The DYW programme is committed to enhancing the experience of all learners within the education system, with a particular focus in supporting more disabled young people into employment. This work contributes to the wider Scottish Government objective, through the A Fairer for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan, of reducing the disability employment gap by at least half by 2038.

The difference in employment rates between disabled people and the rest of the working age population (the disability employment gap ) currently stands at 35.5 percentage points, with 45.6% of disabled people in employment, compared to 81. 1% of non-disabled people (APS, 2018).

The plan identified three themes: supporting employers to recruit and retain disabled people; supporting disabled people to enter work, and young people and transitions.

Disabled young people (16-24 years) have the second lowest employment rate of any age group, and are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled 16-24 year olds. Key actions within the plan to support young disabled people moving from school to further or higher education include:

  • Building on the Seven Principles of Good Transitions, and broader recommendations from sector experts, disabled young people and their families and carers, and work across Government to improve transitions. This includes considering how we can extend the current public sector internship scheme to see greater use by the private sector;
  • Providing young disabled people with the highest level of Modern Apprenticeship funding, and removing the barriers that have previously prevented young disabled people entering Modern Apprenticeships (MA), through the implementation of The Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland;
  • Supporting DYW Regional Groups to develop actions to support the recruitment of disabled people; and
  • Initiating a practice and improvement evaluation of the equality outcomes in Developing the Young Workforce to support policy and delivery improvement.

We will continue to work across Scottish Government, and with partners (including: local government; Scottish Funding Council; and Skills Development Scotland) to ensure delivery of these commitments.


Achieving greater consistency of employer engagement across the country continues to be a challenge which we need to address as we progress into the final years of DYW.

To allow us to better demonstrate and evidence the work being undertaken across the country by DYW Regional Groups, the Scottish Government has been collecting best practice examples from all DYW Regional Groups. This has been an opportunity for the groups to highlight opportunities and challenges and share experiences across the network.

As well as collecting examples of best practice, we have created a shared resource on the national DYW website for these to be shared and accessed by schools, employers and other DYW Regional Groups. which can be accessed at any time by all Regional Groups.

Next steps

A commitment to sustain employer engagement with education

With the 21 Regional Groups now established and focused on embedding within education we have been exploring options to sustain employer engagement post-2021. To support greater consistency across the country and assist with benchmarking, new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been developed for the employer groups.

The KPIs will support the regional groups to evidence their impact in various areas, for example:

  • School-employer partnerships;
  • The number of young people undertaking meaningful work experience; and
  • Employer engagement with young people.

This activity will help us understand how the groups are achieving their key objectives, and support the development of a national picture of this activity.

Evidencing impact

During this reporting year, we have supported the groups in establishing KPIs to evidence their progress. We are particularly interested in their work to advance:

  • Equalities activity, including supporting more disabled and care experienced young people into positive destinations;
  • Supporting schools to enhance the offer of work inspiration activity within the curriculum offer, including a higher standard of work experience placements;
  • Engagement with SMEs, to support their participation in DYW activity.

The data gathered through both national and regional KPIs will allow us to support the work of the Regional Groups going forward, inform our work with partners, demonstrate progress and impact made by the Regional Groups and help inform wider policy considerations.

During 2019 - 2020, we expect to see:

  • Employer satisfaction driving parts of the system nationally and informing regional curriculum planning fully;
  • Greater emphasis on teacher and employer education.

During 2020 - 2021, we expect to see:

  • Sustainable structures to support employers' active contribution in place and contributing effectively to the development of the young workforce.

Case Study: DYW Dumfries and Galloway – Providing a gateway to a new career

DYW Dumfries and Galloway first approached the Gretna Gateway in early 2017, to discuss and develop their work ready service. Gretna Gateway were keen to address the issue of recruiting on the site. The group met with senior representatives from Gretna Gateway the possibility of holding a career fair there. The Regional Group are clear that in order to support such activity, any careers event they present must have actual jobs associated with the recruiters in attendance, so that everyone vising the event can leave with an opportunity.

The careers event showcased the many jobs and careers currently available at Gretna Gateway, with employers such as Costa Coffee, Jane Plum Interiors, Claire's Accessories, The Bodyshop, Molton Brown, Superdry, Thornton's Chocolate Café, Cotton Traders, The Gap, Pizza Express and many more.

Scott Wells, Gretna Gateway Centre Manager said, "As a centre that employs 550 people, recruitment is vitally important to us. Therefore we are thrilled to be working with DYW. Physical retail is still very much alive and thriving, and our brands offer promising careers. Therefore we are always looking for talented individuals to work here at the Gateway. Justin and the DYW team are offering a fantastic service bringing local employers and employees together."

Naomi Warwick, Retail Liaison officer at the outlet added, "The biggest surprise for me was the amount of local people who came along, "One lady said to me, "Why am I travelling half an hour to work when I have all of this on my doorstep?" It was great to have this event, where people could walk in and discuss opportunities available throughout the retail village which they perhaps hadn't thought about before, and with genuine excitement about staying and working in Dumfries and Galloway."

DYW Dumfries and Galloway have established a strong working relationship with the Gretna Gateway Outlet Village through this event and look forward to supporting them with future engagements. Find out more about Gretna Gateway.



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