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 5: Equalities

We are improving outcomes for minority ethnic groups, care-experienced young people, disabled young people and addressing gender inequality.

(This activity delivers on the Developing the Young Workforce Recommendations 13, 26, 27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39.)

In response to the Commission's report we have committed to fifteen recommendations (13, 26 – 39) related to action on equality and diversity.

In taking forward these recommendations, we have drawn on the expertise of a number of partners to promote training, education and jobs where young people experience difficulty in engaging with the labour market.

From the outset of DYW, we have accepted the challenge set by the Wood Commission to maximise the contribution of all young people, and have been absolutely clear that the DYW programme delivers positive outcomes for all, including traditionally under-represented groups. We set ambitious targets to improve outcomes for these cohorts and in the past year we have engaged with expert organisations to further refine our approach to implementation.


This year we have commenced a series of engagements with specialist organisations to support the shaping of future activity, both within DYW and beyond 2021.

To support more employers to contribute to improved outcomes for learners, the DYW Regional Groups have been undertaking work to raise awareness of existing good practice.

This work has included:

  • An assessment of existing good practice conducted by the groups;
  • The collation and sharing of such practice across the network of DYW Regional Groups; and
  • The identification of barriers to progress and how these may be overcome to ensure the ambitions of DYW are realised.

Through this work, we will also seek to engage with several employers to develop detailed case studies of employer engagement in DYW equalities activity. The ambition of this work will be to articulate the path each employer has taken to deliver improved outcomes for disadvantaged young people (For example, how employers have embedded this practice within existing corporate functions).


(Recommendations 13, 26, 27, 28, 33 and 37)

The proportion of looked after children in a positive destination currently sits as 76% for 2017/18 and has remained static from 2016/17. Although the target of 89.3% has not yet been achieved, the gap is reducing as at 2014/15 the proportion of looked after children in positive destinations was 69.3%. This is an increase of 6.7 percentage points since the programme commenced.

Education Scotland continue their work to embed equalities activity across Curriculum for Excellence, including the publication of an ELC Gender resource in December 2018. This resource was developed for early years educators, practitioners and for parents, to explain the importance of challenging gender stereotyping in the early years and to provide examples of existing practice across Scotland.

As part of the expansion of the Improving Gender balance (IGB) Programme, six Improving Gender Balance and Equalities (IGBE) officers were recruited to support our aims for gender equality. These roles involve delivering training to school clusters, early learning and childcare centres and local authorities across the Regional Improvement Collaboratives to help tackle unconscious bias and address gender stereotyping as well as wider equality issues. A suite of Improving Gender Balance Action Guides were published on the National Improvement Hub to support this activity in schools. A new professional learning offer for Improving Gender Balance and Equalities was developed and rolled out nationally by the IGBE Team from Autumn 2019.

In partnership with the National DYW Leads, Education Scotland has undertaken a data gathering exercise with secondary schools across Scotland. The survey included questions regarding equalities activity and highlighted that 83% of schools were actively supporting care experienced young people and 94% were targeting those who are or at risk of disengaging from education.

An online professional learning module was launched for education practitioners and local authorities on inclusion and equality set within the context of Scottish Education. This module is designed to support practitioners to develop an awareness of information and approaches which support inclusive education.

Next Steps

In the year ahead, Schools and Education Scotland will focus on:

  • Delivering the recommendations of the recent Personal and Social Education (PSE) review;
  • Engaging with schools to challenge unconscious bias in STEM;
  • Publish and Equality Action Plan highlighting issues of gender-segregation in education; and
  • Continuing to engage with employers, local authorities and colleges to help support care experienced young people transitioning from education through to employment.


We are pleased to see the positive progress within schools, in particular, addressing gender imbalance. However, there is more work to be done to better support care experienced and disabled young people in transitioning into the world of work. Looking forward, we can expect to see greater emphasis on this work, and the prioritisation of this cohort of learners, to ensure they achieve the best possible outcomes. In the year ahead this will include Education Scotland working in partnership with Local Authorities and the DYW Regional Groups, to explore how the development of school-employer partnerships can do more to support both disabled and care-experienced young people into positive and sustainable destinations.


(Recommendations 29 and 34)

The SFC published its Gender Action Plan (GAP) in August 2016. As part of the GAP, SFC requested all colleges develop their own institutional Gender Action Plan (iGAP) outlining the activities they would undertake to tackle gender imbalances. These were published in 2017.

The Annual Progress report on the Scottish Funding Council's Gender Action Plan was published on 6 February 2019 at the SFC national conference on gender. Notable achievements included the development of targeted initiatives to address subject-based gender imbalances.

The average minority gender share across the 10 most imbalanced college superclasses is 8% for 2016/17, an increase from 5% in 2012/13.

There has also been progress within particular college subject imbalances, including Building Services (from 2% in 2012/13 to 9% in 2016/17) and Engineering & Tecnology (9% in 2012/13 to 16% in 2016/17).

The SFC are in the process of arranging review meetings with a sample of institutions to discuss the progress made in academic year 2017/18. We will have a better understanding of the outcomes of these meetings when the Gender Action Plan Annual Progress Report 2018 is published early next year. SFC will continue to have review meetings with institutions in academic year 2019/20.

Next Steps

Colleges will continue to engage with schools to ensure Senior Phase pathways are helping to address gender imbalance. The SFC will continue to review the GAP through the Gender Governance Group with Education Scotland and the National Union of Students (NUS) to make recommendations for practice, both regionally and at a national level.

Over the next year the SFC will undertake an analysis of retention and completion rates by gender across all institutions and use it as part of their Outcome Agreement discussions to seek improvements in this area.


Whilst both recommendations have been completed, we recognise there is a need for institutions to measure the impact of programmes and initiatives, and the need for institutions to set out firm and sustainable plans to increase the capacity of staff.


(Recommendations 30, 31, 32, 34, 35 and 38)

SDS continues to prioritise traditionally underrepresented groups to engage in their Apprenticeship family. To do this, they work closely with schools and other providers to better understand the barriers such groups often face when transitioning from school into their next destination.

To support SDS in shaping this work, the SAAB recently considered current trends within apprenticeships and identified the need to provide visible, industry leadership on this issue by setting up a Commission to address gender imbalance. The SAAB Gender Commission was subsequently set up in response to these findings and held its first meeting in October 2019.

The Commission is led by Natalie Buxton (Managing Director, Weber Shandwick, and SAAB Group Board member) and engages senior figures in the world of business and education in re-examining what works and what can be done to improve the balance in uptake. It draws upon the experience of businesses and practice from OECD economies and will be expected to draw preliminary conclusions in late 2020, with final recommendations in early 2021 to lead and shape the business response.

We have seen positive progress in advancing equalities across the apprenticeship family. SDS published their Apprenticeship Equalities Action Plan in 2016 – and have since broadened this to include Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships. Their third Annual Progress Report was published in July 2019. This latest update highlights a range of work, in partnership with others, to help drive change, including:

  • SDS delivering an Employability Club with Central Scotland Regional Equality Council. This included workshops in Stirling and Falkirk to promote Modern Apprenticeships and how to access them to ethnic minority communities and other groups facing barriers to employment in the labour market. The club improved participants employability skills and built understanding among participants and parents of the different pathways to work;
  • SDS working in collaboration with Fife Council to support Accessible Fife, an employability programme to help young people with a disability or health condition to access apprenticeships and, where possible, support them to progress into an apprenticeship or paid job;
  • With support from SDS, Microcom Training has been working with organisation such as Barnardo's and Enable Scotland to offer Modern Apprenticeships to vulnerable young people, including care experienced young people. This has involved using the expertise of the charities' staff to put in place a support plan for both individuals and employers before apprenticeships are in place;
  • SDS facilitating sessions alongside SAAB to enable individuals from ethnic minority groups and employers to raise awareness of apprenticeship opportunities. These sessions will also promote to employers good mental well-being within the workplace.

SDS are in the process of refreshing their equality impact assessment of apprenticeships, which will support the identification of evidence-based actions to inform activity for the remainder of the programme. This will be published in the coming months.

As apprenticeship expansion continues, we must ensure equality and diversity is understood and embraced by employers and providers. To support this, SDS launched a communications campaign to raise awareness and help support more young people to engage with the FA. Also, to further increase the accessibility of FAs, SDS have piloted a new offer of work-based learning qualifications at SCQF Levels 4 and 5. This pilot involved project-based learning with direct employer engagement to support progression and develop pathways into apprenticeships.

We recognise SDS's commitment to greater equality across apprenticeships. However, it is clear that more is to be done to overcome barriers in both education and the labour market which gives rise to under-representation.

According to SDS data, we have seen progress across a number of equalities groups, notably:

  • The number of MA starts who self-identify as disabled has improved year on year since the action plan commenced. Figures for 2018/19 show 14.1% of starts self-identified an impairment, health condition or learning difficulty. This is an increase of 2.9 percentage points since 2017/18 (when the figure was 11.3%) and an increase of 5.5 percentage points since 2016/17[8] (when the figure was 8.6%);
  • Participation from ethnic minority groups has also increased year-on-year since the start of the action plan, but has not yet reached the level we would have hoped at this stage[9]. 2.3% of MA starts in 2018/19 identified as being from an ethnic minority group, an increase from 1.9% in 2017/18;
  • The proportion of MA starts who are care-experienced has slightly decreased from last year. In 2018/19, 1.5% of care leavers took up a MA, a decrease of 0.1 percentage points since 2017/18 (when the figure was 1.6%);

However, in 2018/19, 72% of MA frameworks had a gender balance of 75:25 or worse (60 of 83 frameworks), an increase of +0.7 pp on 2017/18.

The ethnic intersectional initiative pilot programme launched last year by SDS as well as the pre-apprenticeship support for people from Minority Ethnic backgrounds in their application to apprenticeship opportunities has been extended for a further year. Following the extended pilot, SDS will expand and embed best practice learning from this work and report on this activity in the months ahead.

Next Steps

This year, SDS are looking to develop an Equality Action Plan for the Careers Information, Advice and Guidance service. This will involve reviewing current evidence and consultation with partners to identify and refine actions. The plan will consider specific equality groups including ASN/disability, care experience, ethnic minority and gender.


To increase the numbers of young people taking up an apprenticeship in traditionally gender segregated sectors, we will continue to work closely with schools and other partners. In addition, SDS will continue to support the uptake and achievement of MAs for Minority Ethnic individuals, disabled and care experienced young people. This will include SDS developing a bespoke marketing campaign to target Minority Ethnic communities and further work to identify existing effective practice, to assess the extent to which this can be replicated nationally. There has been a slight increase in the number of Minority Ethnic learners starting a Modern Apprenticeship, however the rate of this progress will require additional focus between now and 2021.

Looking ahead, and being mindful of gender balance remaining static at 72%, the newly established SAAB Gender Commission will prioritise this work to help reduce this to the target figure of 60%.


(Recommendations 36 and 39)

For the period January to December 2018, we have seen a reduction in the employment rate for disabled young people. In the period of January to December 2017, the employment rate for disabled young people was 43.2%. This has decreased to 35.8% for the same period in 2018. Whilst this represents a significant reduction, this in part reflects the small size of the cohort, such that year to year changes in numbers can result in a large change in the overall percentage.

To support our understanding of the DYW Regional Groups' contribution to this work, the DYW National Employer Forum agreed four National Key Performance Indicators for 2019/20 which have now been rolled out across the 21 regions. Two of the KPIs seek additional information about the number of young people from ASN schools who are involved in employer engagement activity and the number who have not participated in meaningful work experience by the end of S5. A third KPI requires school-employer partnerships are established within all schools including ASN schools and units.

This year, the DYW Regional Groups have established an Equalities Working Group consisting of representatives from DYW Regional Groups and partners from several policy areas. This forum will promote the sharing of equalities activity and suggest solutions and further actions to support equality groups, in particular young disabled people.

A social media campaign based on #ajobforeverybody was launched by the DYW Regional Groups on 11 November 2018. The basis of the campaign was to showcase young people from a variety of backgrounds including those from minority ethnic communities and those with disabilities undertaking employment and work experience opportunities in unexpected settings.

Next Steps

The Hand Picked employability programme which supports young people with varying needs into employment continues to be supported by the DYW Regional Groups. In the months ahead, we will undertake a review of the programme to assess the impact this is having for young people including those who are care experienced.

The Scottish Government published a Disability Employment Action Plan (DEAP) in December 2018, which set out our ambition to reduce the disability employment gap by at least half and build on work underway across a number of programmes of activity. We are in the process of planning and delivering actions from the DEAP, including the action regarding young people accessing the right support at the right time to enable them to enter fair work. We are working across government and with partners to establish the actions already underway to support this KPI and to assess what further work is required to ensure an increase in the disability employment rate.


Whilst we have seen some examples of good practice, the priority for both Education Scotland and the DYW Regional Groups will be to move from isolated examples of good practice and one-off engagements, to a coherent network of meaningful and productive school/employer partnerships operating in all secondary schools.

Further activity needs to be undertaken by the DYW Regional Groups to help increase the employment rate for disabled young people. In addition, further discussions are required with Education Scotland on broadening work experience opportunities for young disabled people.

While there is a range of activity underway across the programme, we note the difficulty in supporting cultural and societal shifts to support underrepresented groups in engaging with the system and indeed the new opportunities the DYW Programme has created since its inception in 2014. In the year ahead we can expect to see further work undertaken to better support these groups, including the broadening of work experience opportunities of these cohorts of learners, particularly disabled young people.

Looking ahead

A bespoke approach to equalities activity

Reflecting on progress to date, and the pace of change we are seeing across all equalities activity, we have identified the need to develop a focused approach to this work.

This year we have been working in partnership with Inclusion Scotland to support our understanding of progress, identify existing good practice and to consider how this can be utilised to accelerate the pace of change nationally. This work identified the need to share and reflect on this activity.

Whilst there is a significant volume of activity taking place in schools, there remains limited evidence of a tailored approach to supporting young people who face additional barriers in engaging with work experience, work inspiration and vocational qualifications.

In addition to the proposed approach to supporting DYW Regional Groups in the months ahead, we will engage with schools colleagues to support the development of additional resources for school staff:

  • To assist teachers' understanding of existing good practice in supporting disabled and care-experienced young people (and others) to engage in work experience placements;
  • To assist teachers and curriculum planning practitioners in supporting engagement in vocational pathways.

We will also work with partners to prioritise the development of a suite of resources, including case studies that showcase existing good practice in this area. This will support our understanding of the degree of change seen within the education system during DYW implementation.

Addressing gender imbalance and gender stereotyping

To overcome barriers linked to gender balance and stereotyping, we have been engaging with Close the Gap, a specialist organisation who support organisations to encourage and enable action to address the causes of women's inequality at work, to consider how we may enhance our approach to this activity.

Close the Gap engaged with the Commission on Developing the Young Workforce and called for specific and measurable action on gender stereotyping, and for the consideration of gender throughout the development of the strategy. Since the launch of DYW, Close the Gap has engaged DYW stakeholders to advocate for a sustained focus on the specific gender recommendations and KPIs, and for the mainstreaming of gender across the strategy's key focus areas. Specific and measurable actions and outcomes for young women and girls provides a framework from which action can progress, and sends a clear message to all stakeholders that gender equality.

More recently, they have supported us in shaping activity between now and 2021. We will work in partnership with Close the Gap and stakeholders to:

  • Develop a strategic approach to building gender competence in teachers and other education practitioners;
  • Ensure the DYW Regional Groups review is informed by gender expertise;
  • Develop guidance for employers engaged with DYW on tackling gendered occupational segregation, and build capacity on the importance of gender equality at work in realising the ambitions of DYW;
  • Ensure any new resources developed for teachers and careers practitioners are gender-sensitive and include guidance on tackling gender stereotyping and segregation.

We expect to continue this work and engage with other organisations during 2020.

As we move into year six, and indeed the final years, of the programme, we must challenge ourselves and partners to prioritise this activity, to ensure we give ourselves the best possible opportunity to meet the ambition of the Wood Commission, and deliver positive outcomes for those young people who continue to face barriers in an improving labour market.

Next Steps

During 2019 – 2020, we expect to see:

  • Achievement of Modern Apprenticeship volume target and diversity targets.

During 2020 – 2021, we expect to see:

  • Expanded provision of vocational pathways fully embedded within the curriculum, tested by Education Scotland, and valued by young people, their parents and teachers and practitioners as evidenced by uptake and outcomes;
  • College outcome agreements academic year 2021-22 reflect a regional curriculum, with vocational options widely available, informed by secondary schools, local authorities and employers;
  • Activity fully embedded and expansion sustained.

Case Study: Improving Gender Balance

Challenge Fund supports more males into Early Learning and Childcare

Men have been historically underrepresented in Early Learning Childcare (ELC) – in 2018 just under 4% of nursery staff in the UK were male, compared with 7% in Portugal, and 23% in Denmark.

The Men in Childcare Challenge Fund was designed to help tackle this imbalance by increasing the number of men applying for and successfully completing Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) registered qualifications in ELC. It came as the ELC workforce expansion continued, ahead of the Scottish Government's launch of the 1140 hours ELC expansion in 2020. This workforce planning activity identified a demand for 11,000 additional trained staff in the ELC sector by 2020. It was also launched against a policy backdrop which brought greater focus on gender segregation in tertiary education in Scotland through the SFC Gender Action Plan. One of the aims of the plan was to improve the participation by under-represented genders and reduce the gap at a course level to no greater than 75:25. ELC has historically been one of the most gender segregated curriculum areas in both Further and Higher education across the UK.

Inverness College, with UHI partners, developed a project to respond to the Challenge Fund. The project covers the whole of the UHI Subject Network in Early Years, in order to maximise the opportunities for delivery in a broad geographical area. The Children and Men in Practice (CHAMP) project consists of 4 units and SCQF level 6 that would best allow progression onto HNC Childhood Practice if suitable. The units are:

  • Development of Children and Young People;
  • Play with Children and Young People;
  • Promoting the Wellbeing of Children and Young People;
  • Safeguarding of Children and Young People.

The first cohort of students completed the course in June 2019. Of the 16 who started the course, 8 completed; 4 students moved onto the HNC Childhood Practice; and 2 were offered level 6 Childhood Practice as an alternative; and a further 2 are using the qualification to further their own career (STEM/youthwork).

Other positive impacts on the programme –

  • ICUHI appointed their first male lecturer in early years, who also brings significant experience in delivering outdoor learning to children;
  • The staff involved in delivering the programme have benefitted greatly from the experience - they are both strong advocates of men in early years, and yet identified unexpected areas of reflection. This was particularly around how comfortably the group created good 'flow' of play and how adaptable they were to changing circumstances.

ICUHI intend to enrol another two cohorts of male ELC students through this route and have taken steps where possible to implement suggestions for improvement put forward by the initial cohort. These included more opportunities to work with children on some tasks, hearing from external speakers and the potential to develop outdoor learning. One of these cohorts will be taught by a male lecturer in an all-male environment and further feedback will be sought from this approach. These additional cohorts will also be recruited from across the wider UHI region, with attention on areas where there was low/no uptake, for example, Caithness and Sutherland, the Western Isles, and West Highland.

ICUHI will also intend to broaden out to engage primary and secondary schools across the region in order to address the development of stereotyping in early years. An offer will be made to local primary age schoolboys to come in for a session to spend active time with the HNC Childhood Practice class and CHAMP students will be invited to attend, and lead the activities. Teachers and guidance staff will be invited to come along too. The college is also developing plans to engage with parents on a late afternoon/early evening, to create an experience to enhance the 'normality' of men working in an early years environment.



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