Developing the Young Workforce: 2017-2018 progress report

The fourth annual progress report of the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) programme.


Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) is Scotland’s youth employment strategy and through DYW, we aim to reduce youth unemployment levels by 40% by 2021.

The strategy aims to create an enhanced curriculum offer for young people in schools, 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 relevant partners.

The Scottish Government committed to annual reporting on the progress of the Developing the Young Workforce Programme. This fourth annual report covers academic year 2017/18 and highlights early progress made in the first part of academic year 2018/19.

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?

We are delighted to report that 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 achieved this last year – four years ahead of schedule.

For this target to be achieved, the youth unemployment level for those not in full-time education needs to be 31,000 or below. Whilst, the wider macro-economic and social factors can create flux in these figures, official statistics calculated in May 2017, shows that youth unemployment in Scotland, excluding those in full-time education has reduced from 52,000 in 2014 down to 27,000 in 2017. Figures from May 2018 show youth unemployment at 28,000.

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 equality 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. 12.8% of 2016/17 school leavers attained 1+ award at SCQF 5 or better This is an increase of 2.1 percentage points since 2015/16, and an increase of 5.5 percentage points since the baseline in 2013/14;
  • There is an increasing number of senior phase enrolments on vocational pathways, at SCQF level 5 and above, since DYW was introduced. 4,510 young people were enrolled on these pathways as of 2016/17, an increase of 1,496 in 2015/16 (3,014) and an increase of 2,409 since the baseline in 2013/14 (2,101);
  • There has been an increase in the number of young people starting Foundation Apprenticeships. In 2018, over 1.500 young people were enrolled on a Foundation Apprenticeship, an increase 1,245 in 2017, 346 in 2016, 269 in 2015 and 63 in 2014, the baseline figure;
  • In 2017/18, there were 27,145 MA starts, an increase from 26,262 in 2016/17 and an increase from 25,284 in 2013/14, the baseline figure;
  • In 2017/18, 18,524 Modern Apprenticeship (MA) starts were at level 3 or above. This is an increase from 17,263 in 2016/17 and an increase from 15,655 in 2013/14, the baseline figure;
  • The proportion of looked after children in positive destinations is 76.0% in 2016/17. This is an increase of 4.8 percentage points since 2015/16, and an increase of 6.7 percentage points since the baseline figures were recorded in 2012/13.
  • An increase in the disability employment rate;
  • The employment rate for young disabled people increased from 35.6% in January– December 2016 to 43.2% for the same period in 2017. This is an increase of 8.0 percentage points compared to the baseline figure of 35.2% (Jan-Dec 2014).

More opportunities for all young people

In taking forward DYW, we aim to make an important contribution towards Scotland’s Economic Strategy in promoting inclusive growth. Through the expansion of new work-based learning opportunities in Scotland, DYW helps improve the opportunities, life chances and wellbeing of all our young people.

As we develop and expand the new DYW opportunities for our young people, encouraging diversity in the workforce by removing real and perceived barriers for young people is key. We have progressed much already, and met the Wood Commission’s expectation for there to be gender and equality action plans in Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

We have built on existing approaches to support equalities activity, such as The Stepping Up Programme, run by Enable Scotland to support disabled young people. We have also seen the DYW Regional Groups support disabled and care-experienced young people onto work-experience placements and employment. We know, though, that persistent barriers remain for many young people, and that they won’t be tackled within DYW alone.

Recognising this, our partnership approach is critical to improving opportunities for young people and we are particularly grateful all those pursuing the DYW agenda at the local, regional and national level for their continued commitment and energy.

Looking ahead, we expect to see the skills of our young people not only increase, but that these will better match the needs of employers to further the Scottish economy. As work advances on equalities, covered in Chapter 5 of this report, we also expect to see developments in addressing gender imbalance in work and a decrease in the disability participation gap, in addition to improved outcomes for care-experienced young people.

What’s next

As we move into the final years of the programme, the DYW Programme Board met in November to reflect on the progress set out within this report relative to the ambition set out in 2014. Board members identified three key improvement priorities:

  • There will continue to be more to do to ensure that DYW is well understood by teachers, young people and their parents/carers and schools have a key role to play in this;
  • Schools and Colleges need to develop their approaches to data collection to better demonstrate the progress of DYW;
  • The DYW Employer Groups should focus on building a coherent evidence base to demonstrate what has changed in schools, including equalities activity. This should seek to build on existing good practice to improve outcomes from those who face additional barriers when transitioning from education to the world of work.

The recent review of the 15-24 learner journey will act to intensify our approach to DYW. The Review highlighted the need for additional focus on employability and ensuring young people make the learning and career choices that are right for them. This is central to our approach to education as we continue efforts to develop the workforce the economy requires.

Responding to the challenge of messaging

Over the course of 2019, we will work with Young Scot and a partnership of organisations to help us to refine messages and develop new ways to better promote DYW. Young people will be at the heart of this national DYW communications strategy, involving Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council, Colleges Scotland, Youthlink Scotland and others, to ensure the messages developed are easily understood by parents, teachers and young people themselves.

Next year, our focus is on:

  • Ensuring the messages within the Careers Education Standard 3-18 and Work Placements Standard are reaching the classroom;
  • Expanding the college offer in schools and with it more opportunities to undertake Foundation Apprenticeships;
  • Doing more for disabled young people;
  • Strengthening school/employer partnerships in all secondary schools.

In taking this work forward, we will seek to align our efforts with the broad range of policy priorities currently underway across the Scottish Government, including the implementation of the 15-24 learner journey recommendations, the Commission on Widening Access, the Student Support Review. We will also seek to align with the Scottish Government’s STEM Education and Training Strategy, which will publish its first annual report by February 2019. This strategy, and the learner journey, build on the delivery of a number of DYW recommendations, and we will continue to co-ordinate our activity across each of these programmes.

Using this report

Progress in the implementation of DYW can be understood in terms of:

  • Outcomes (monitored primarily through Key Performance Indicators), which follow activities/inputs and the outputs that result from these;
  • Growth in partnerships and collaboration;
  • Development of new and changing practice;
  • Evidence of involvement and engagement with young people in new ways of working.

The progress made needs to be considered mindful of the challenges DYW as a change programme is trying to overcome:

  • Achieving collaboration and buy-in across different parts of the system;
  • Aligning and maximising resources and capacity within the system;
  • Existing constraints in the design of the system.

We have reflected on the progress contained within each chapter against evidence of the completion of recommendations and provided an assessment of this progress, in terms of:

  • the impact made – this is in relation to change observed in programme KPIs (Chapter 6);
  • outputs delivered – this is in relation to the things that have been created by the programme, so for example, increases in the number of vocational qualifications delivered in school;
  • inputs achieved – this is in relation to the completion of planned activity.

Key terms used within this report

  • Curriculum for Excellence (CfE): the national curriculum for Scottish schools for learners from the ages 3-15;
  • Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF): The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework is the national credit transfer system for all levels of qualifications in Scotland;
  • DYW Regional Groups: Employer-led regional groups, focused on supporting young people into employment by bridging the gap between education and employers.


Who oversees the programme?

  • The DYW Programme is managed by the Scottish Government and is accountable to Scottish Ministers;
  • The partnership between national and local government is monitored and developed through the National Advisory Group. This group’s role is to provide formal expression of the guiding coalition that supports the DYW programme: through its members it will be able to promote the associated vision to stakeholders across Scotland.
  • Progress is overseen by the DYW Programme Board, who provide the leadership and co-ordination between the workstreams (also known as Change Themes). It ensures connections are made across Change Themes and monitors progress against plans.

Further Information

Further information on the following can be found at:

Case Study – Kingussie High School – DYW is raising attainment

Kingussie High, based in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park has responded to DYW by changing its curriculum to meet the needs of their young people and the local economy. The effect has been more than doubling of the number of subjects on offer and an increase in pupils’ attainment from below the national average to above it.

To achieve this, Kingussie moved away from the traditional view of focussing on ‘grades’, to embrace the SCQF, to take full advantage of the breadth of learning opportunities available to young people. This meant pupils had the chance to study a range of vocational qualifications which were built into the timetable through partnership working with the local college.

13/14 - 18/19 Curriculum Evolution

The result of this is that the number of subjects available to pupils has more than doubled from 13/14 to 18/19 with departments across the school challenged to offer a wider range of courses. This had an impact on the motivation and engagement of everyone involved in learning and teaching at Kingussie. With such a range of courses and qualifications now on offer, learners are more likely to be able to select subjects of their interest at Kingussie High School which has a positive impact on their motivation, particularly for those young people at risk of disengaging. The positive attainment figures at the school could indicate the benefits of this innovative approach to curriculum planning.

The commitment and motivation of teachers and the support of partners alongside parental engagement has been an integral component in changing the whole school ethos on learning and teaching.

KHS Curriculum Rationale 2018 - 2019

Here just some of the things that make the Kingussie curriculum different:

  • Assembly and pupil support time is an integrated part of the curriculum.
  • Electives offered in the Broad General Education (some of these are stage-not-age electives).
  • Thursday afternoon is a flexible provision to support the Broad General Education.
  • S4 - S6 timetabled together.
  • S4 students take Higher awards if they are appropriate (again stage-not-age).
  • Three different types of interlocking Senior Phase timetables are run.
  • Some courses run on a Saturday (for example, Drama through Eden Court).
  • Kingussie have made a considerable and long term investment in digital technologies.
  • Partners work with the school to deliver many of the courses, with the timetable being built around the school being flexible to the partners they work with, rather than the other way around.
  • A comprehensive extra-curricular and community programme is provided to extend the curriculum.

KHS Timetabling - In a Nutshell

At Kingussie High School great emphasis is placed on the development of learners’ skills. Regular learning conversations result in monitoring and tracking skills progression and allow young people to reflect on both formal learning and their wider achievement which they capture in their personal profiles. This reflects the school’s holistic view on the learner journey towards future career pathways.

Kingussie High is one example of a school where you can see the philosophy of CfE and DYW in action and working.

“We can do things differently – and, actually, we have demonstrated that if you do things differently, it can have a significant impact.”

Ollie Bray, Kingussie High, 19 October 2018


Email: Paul Fagan

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