Developing the Young Workforce: 2017-2018 progress report

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

Chapter 1 - Schools

Increasing numbers of young people are now studying higher level vocational qualifications at school.

Key Indicators

Outcomes (KPIs)

  • 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;
  • The percentage of employers recruiting young people directly from education has remained stable at 32% since the baseline was measured in 2014.


  • There is an increasing number of senior phase pupil enrolments on vocational pathways, at SCQF level 5 and above, since DYW was introduced. 4,510 young people were enrolled in 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 from 1,245 in 2017, 346 in 2016, 269 in 2015 and 63 in 2014, the baseline figure.

(This activity delivers on Developing the Young Workforce Recommendations 1, 2, 3, 16, 26, 27, 28, 33, 37)

At its outset DYW achieved overwhelming support from all parts of the learning and skills system. Since then, the implementation of the programme has seen an expansion in collaborative activity between schools, colleges and employers.

As these partnerships have strengthened, we have seen an expansion in senior phase vocational provision – courses delivered primarily by colleges in schools and explained overleaf; the development of a new qualification – the Foundation Apprenticeship; the introduction of a national standard for careers education in school; and new networks to facilitate cross system working, including the development of the national DYW leads network where leads in support of DYW come together from local authorities, colleges and the DYW Regional Groups.

We also have ensured that the vocational offer in school is part of a blended learning approach that is available for all learners, focused on providing options at different levels and with different progression opportunities. DYW has set the agenda for establishing and embedding a range of learning options, offering more choice to all learners. However, more work needs to be done to reduce regional variances in the curriculum offer and also to reduce inconsistencies to ensure that all young people have access to a relevant breadth of choice to meet their needs.

National Improvement Framework

To ensure we give sufficient recognition of DYW within the school curriculum we have included it within the Scottish Government’s National Improvement Framework.

This framework exists to build understanding of what works to drive improvements for children and young people across all parts of the Scottish education system. It sets out the vision and priorities for Scottish education that have been agreed across the system, and the national improvement activity that needs to be undertaken to help deliver the key priorities:

  • Improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy;
  • Closing the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged children and young people;
  • Improvement in children and young people's health and wellbeing;
  • Improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school-leaver destinations for all young people.

As part of this we include focusing on delivery of Developing the Young Workforce as a key element of the curriculum to increase the number of young people reaching a positive and sustained destination. This year’s NIF and Improvement Plan will be published on 11 December.


Key themes and milestones for schools

We want to:

  • Expand the curriculum offer to increase the pathways from school into employment;
  • Engage young people, parents, teachers, practitioners, partners and employers in promoting greater choice in school;
  • Support teachers and practitioners to develop children's and young people's knowledge of the world of work;
  • Provide careers advice when young people need it, leading to better knowledge of capabilities and more informed choice to progress to those opportunities;
  • Involve employers in both developing and delivering the school curriculum;
  • Consolidate partnership working between schools, colleges and other training providers.

Senior Phase Vocational Pathways

To raise attainment in schools, DYW wants to increase the range of subject choices and provide pathways to more courses which start at SCQF level 5 and above. We think that courses at this level are the key to helping learners get the right job or to support their chance of progressing to further and higher education. In schools, we want to see more of these level 5 vocational courses connect with other courses to provide pathways to higher level skills, enhancing young people’s readiness for the world of work. We refer to such courses as evidence of senior phase vocational pathways (SPVPs).

In this year, we continue to see good progress in the expansion of choices for young people through an increased number of college courses delivered within schools. According to Scottish Funding Council figures, there has been a continued increase in the number of senior phase enrolments on vocational pathways, at SCQF level 5 and above, since DYW was introduced. This increase is also reflected in an increase in overall credit activity (a measure of college activity) that Colleges are committing to SPVPs.

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 achieved a vocational qualification. 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.

Figures from the Scottish Funding Council show us:

  • The number of SCQF level 5 courses continued to increase between 2015-16 and 2016-17;
  • There has been an increase in the number of senior phase pupils studying vocational qualifications, at SCQF 5 and above, delivered by Colleges, independent training providers or schools. In 2016/17, 4,510 young people were studying these courses, an increase of 1,496 from 2015/16 (3,014) and an increase of 2,409 from 2013/14 (2,101), the baseline figure;
  • Considerable increases in the uptake in Construction, Engineering, Science, Care and Hair and Beauty;
  • A continuing increase in the number of courses lasting over 160 hrs, which could indicate that partnerships and provision are becoming more substantive;
  • The number of enrolments studying STEM qualifications continues to increase. In 2016/17, 39,315 young people were enrolled on these qualifications, an increase of 123 from 2015/16 (39,192) and an increase of 1,275 from 2013-14 (38,040), the baseline figure;
  • The overall proportions of males and females on SPVP has become more balanced over the past three years, and for the first time there are more males on SPVP (52.2%) than females (mirroring the national trend for a greater number of males in colleges);
  • The proportion of disabled learners has increased to 16% in 2016/17, an increase of 2 percentage points from 2015/16 (14%).

Looking ahead, and at the forecast activity from colleges over the next three years, colleges project a continued expansion: for example for academic year (AY) 17-18 an increase of 110% on AY 16-17 and by the end of the three year cycle, an increase of over 130% in enrolments. SFC forecasts that for AY 18-19 to AY 20-21 propose further increases with recruitment of over 6,679 enrolments on senior phase vocational pathways projected for AY 18-19 and 7,593 enrolments projected by AY 20-21. This is in addition to the range of activity delivered by schools nationally.

Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs)

To ensure vocational courses can lead to higher level skills, both at university as well as work, Skills Development Scotland (SDS), in partnership with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), local authorities, and industry, developed a new qualification, the Foundation Apprenticeship. This is a school based apprenticeship connected to the family of apprenticeships, which provides young people with higher level work based learning and employment experience. To address issues of the parity of work based learning, this qualification is at SCQF level 6, so helps young people achieve an industry recognised qualification whilst in school. FAs have been developed to align to key sectors of the economy where there are current skills shortages or projected future jobs growth.

A progress report on the delivery of Foundation Apprenticeships will be published in the coming weeks.

In this year, there has been further progress in the expansion of Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities, with over 1,500 young people enrolled on a FA in 2018. Looking ahead, our focus will be on supporting schools, colleges and employers in engaging with SDS to address regional and sectoral gaps in the FA offer, and seeking to promote the benefit of these new opportunities to young people, parents and practitioners.

We want FAs to be available in all secondary schools so that all young people have the opportunity to take up these opportunities irrespective of the school they attend or geographical region they study.


Achieving greater choice in schools by introducing, developing and delivering a new qualification for young people in their senior phase is not without its challenges. New options must be embedded as an integral part of the curriculum, including the school timetable and available resources. The partnership nature of delivery also requires alignment of these resources across, often a number of schools, and colleges. This is not withstanding a range of practical issues which also require careful consideration, including transport and health and safety.

As such, establishment of the FA programme across the country continues to require cross partner leadership.

In this year, we have already seen evidence of this commitment. For example we have seen an increase the number of FA opportunities in:

  • Glasgow, where 157 young people enrolled on a FA, an increase from 100 in 2017 and 31 in 2016. These are taking place in 25 of 29 schools in the area, an increase from just 11 schools in 2016;
  • Fife, where 200 young people enrolled on a FA, a decrease from 239 in 2017, but a substantial increase from just 27 in 2016. These are available in all 18 schools in Fife;
  • South Lanarkshire, where 200 young people enrolled, increasing from 46 in 2017 and 0 in 2016.

Building more pathways

To further this expansion, and to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to start a FA opportunity. To do this, we expect schools and colleges choices to create pathways to the FA. In support of this, SDS is also piloting new courses with employers to provide an earlier introduction to the skills required on a FA.

These new courses will be available at SCQF level 4 and 5. At SCQF level 4, the qualifications will offer the opportunity to experience a range of skills, in order to aid understanding of a sector, and to apply the skills learned in a practical context. At SCQF level 5, a young person will be able to specialise from the range of sector options available. These new courses will build on and add to the existing skills based qualifications that provide an introduction to employability and industry skills and knowledge forming a useful precursor to the FA portfolio. Working with SQA, we will provide more details of these Awards, Skills for Work and National Progression Awards and how they relate to Foundation Apprenticeship subject areas as part of the DYW response during 2018/19.

Next Steps

We will continue to support a partnership approach to help expand the number of FA opportunities available next academic year.

To achieve this, we will work together with partners to respond to the challenges of:

  • Timetabling, resourcing, and the logistics in terms of the feasibility of providing work based experience;
  • Subject mix and choice;
  • The current makeup of the senior phase and how we best embed vocational options as part of the wider offer to young people;
  • The need to improve collaboration between schools, colleges and employers for the benefit of the learner.

Careers Education Standard

To raise young people’s awareness of the different pathways and careers available we said we would improve careers information and guidance for people in Scotland no matter their age. To do this, we developed the Career Education Standard (3-18) (CES 3-18). This supports starting career education and careers advice and guidance earlier in schools, to help young people understand their capabilities and develop their aspirations to make informed learning and careers choices as they progress through their learning.

The Career Education Standard (3-18) is one of a suite of three documents developed, along with Work Placements Standard and Guidance on School/Employer Partnerships, that provide support and guidance to those within the education system. A wide range of support materials are now available to teachers and practitioners on the National Improvement Hub to support the implementation of the standard.

A first review of progress towards the implementation of the Career Education Standard (CES) 3-18 and the Work Placement Standard took place in May 2017. Since then, a focus on the implementation of CES 3-18 has been included in the regular Education Scotland Career Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) review programme.

This programme inspects provision at local authority level and includes focussed evaluation activities with schools and young people. Findings from CIAG reviews conducted over 2017/18 indicate that through the School Partnership Agreements with SDS, the CES 3-18 and its entitlements are now central to career services delivered by SDS in schools.

Education Scotland is currently working with the National DYW Leads Network to gather information at secondary school level.

Responses so far suggest that almost all secondary schools are:

  • using the entitlements for young people set out in the Career Education Standard (CES) 3-18 to shape learning;
  • supporting young people to profile their skills, attributes and achievement; and
  • actively supporting young people who are – or at risk of – disengaging from education into relevant and sustainable pathways.

Careers advice and guidance

To support and enable young people in considering their career pathways, Skills Development Scotland (SDS) continues to deliver a comprehensive range of career information advice and guidance (CIAG) services. This includes:

  • An early career education digital offer for primary schools P5-P7 via My World of Work (MyWoW);
  • SDS’s web service for individuals, MyWoW;
  • Group engagements at P7/S1 through to Senior Phase;
  • Parental engagement from P7/S1 to S6;
  • Career guidance 1:1 support at subject choice phase including 1:1 offer for parents/carers;
  • A sustained coaching relationship from S3 to S6 delivering 1:1 career guidance interventions.

Of the seven CIAG inspections carried out between August 2017 and June 2018, all were graded as good or better against ‘Customer progression and achievement of relevant high quality outcomes’. Data shows that local authority secondary schools are working with SDS careers staff through the School Partnership Agreement, and other activities, to help improve the participation measure in schools and the positive destinations for young people.


  • Timetabling and resourcing continues to present a challenge in terms of the provision of an equitable work-based experience for all young people;
  • Recent research into the influence of parents in carers in terms of young people’s subject choice found that DYW is not fully understood by these groups;
  • There is a need to better support the ongoing professional development of the sectors to support improved joint working for the benefit of the learner;
  • Whilst we are seeing impact at a local level, there remains inconsistency across the system and we must work to address this to ensure the consistent delivery of outcomes for all of our young people;
  • Further progress is needed to develop school-employer partnerships, to ensure that quality work placements are available in line with the Work Placement Standard;
  • An analysis of school inspection evidence, from March to June 2017, suggests improvement is needed in broad general education at S1 to S3 to develop/promote diverse pathways, and additional focus on the promotion of STEM subjects.

Looking ahead: building and strengthening capacity

To help strengthen capacity in the system, we will build on the development and the role of the National DYW Leads Network. This consists of local authority leads, college leads and regional employer group leads with a focus on building the capacity needed to ensure that the system change identified by the DYW programme is realised. The Network aims to collectively identify and address common challenges. There has been a strong focus on developing and strengthening the links and relationships needed between schools, colleges and employers to improve the curriculum offer to children and young people. To assess impact to date, the Network is currently gathering information on the DYW recommendations on a school by school basis.

To further strengthen this joint-working, we will continue to support the national DYW Professional Learning Partnership group to coordinate national support for professional learning across the system. Work is also in progress with SCEL (Scottish College for Educational Leadership) to ensure that DYW relevant learning is included in each of its professional learning programmes.

As they continue to enhance and extend their impact, the Regional Improvement Collaboratives will support new and further collaborative approaches to improvement, between schools, authorities and other partners. To support them in this, the Scottish Government is providing additional support to the RICs and to Education Scotland during the 2018/19 school year, to strengthen their regional capacity and to support delivery of a range of region-wide improvement activities. Delivering positive outcomes for children and young people is central to that work.

Education Scotland is, for example, currently working in collaboration with RICs to develop a professional learning model for middle leaders to be trialled in the first half of 2019 in order to build leadership capacity around DYW. This will be based on SCEL’s Collaborative Middle Leadership Programme and a ‘case clinic’ approach for participants to progress current DYW challenges.

We will work to achieve greater alignment with the Scottish Government’s STEM Strategy and the implementation of the learner journey recommendations. In particular, joining up our efforts in relation to the report’s recommendations.

Next Steps

During 2018 - 2019, we expect to see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase;
  • Foundation Apprenticeship opportunities increasing across the country;
  • All secondary schools in active partnerships with regional colleges;
  • Further expansion of Foundation Apprenticeship delivery across Scotland; and
  • Strengthened school/employer partnerships operating in all secondary schools.

During 2019 - 2020, we expect to see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase.

During 2020-2021, we expect to see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase;
  • Sustainable school/employer partnerships.

Case study: Civil engineering apprenticeship has laid foundation for Sophia’s career

Taking a Foundation Apprenticeship gave Sophia Findlay the chance to find out what a career in engineering would be like and now it’s cemented her plans for the future.

The 17-year-old from Springboig in Glasgow was planning to leave school at the end of fifth year and didn’t know what she wanted to do for a living.

Then, her mum told her about opportunities through Foundation Apprenticeships.

The St. Andrew’s RC Secondary pupil chose to take a Foundation Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering in fifth year, alongside other school subjects.

Foundation Apprenticeships give senior school pupils the chance to spend time out of the classroom with a learning provider and gain experience in a work environment.

Completion leads to a qualification at the same level as a Higher, to progress into work including Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships as well as being recognised for entry into colleges and universities across Scotland.

Sophia explained: “I had no real plan about what I wanted to do and thought I could maybe go to college and take up an art course.

“My mum told me about Foundation Apprenticeships and thought it would be worth doing because I would get work experience with a qualification and be able to stay in school until sixth year.”

Sophia took the Foundation Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering at Glasgow Kelvin College alongside her other school subjects.

In the first year, Sophia went to college two half days a week.

“My first year at college was really good” said Sophia. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there were also two other girls doing the Foundation Apprenticeship, so I felt more comfortable. The learning eased us in well because we weren’t bombarded with a lot of information.”

Now Sophia’s out of school one day a week getting her hands dirty, working on building sites with social housing developer, McTaggart Construction.

“At the moment I get to watch and learn,” said Sophia. “I’m looking forward to learn on the job and get hands on experience.”

Doing the Foundation Apprenticeship has opened her eyes up to different aspects of engineering Sophia didn’t know about, which has now given her a clear idea of what career she wants to pursue.

Sophia said: “I got to find out more about the career choices in Civil Engineering through the Foundation Apprenticeship and I thought they were fascinating.

“There is an opportunity to work in areas like flood protection and environmental protection, which really appeals to me because they are dealing with important issues.”

Ross Hammell, Sustainable Communities Programme Manager at McTaggart Construction:

“McTaggart Construction sees FA’s as a key element of our talent pipeline mix, alongside other traditional academic and vocational routes. The construction industry needs many more confident, hardworking young people across all disciplines to address the current skills shortage we face. The world of work can be a shock to a lot of school leavers, therefore FA’s offer the opportunity to gain a true understanding of a potential career path before they’ve even left school.”

“Since starting her FA with McTaggart Construction, Sophia has gained a lot of confidence which has enabled her to ask more questions and get more from her time on site, applying academic learning.”

Taking the Foundation Apprenticeship has changed Sophia’s opinion of school.

She explained: “Taking the Foundation Apprenticeship has given me something to look forward to and I’m excited to learn what the career would be like.

“Getting the experience of college and the workplace with my Foundation Apprenticeship has made me happier and more confident.”

Peter Brown, Senior Curriculum Manager from Glasgow Kelvin College said: “The Foundation Apprenticeship programme provides a range of benefits to our learners, chief among these being the opportunity to undertake a long-term work placement with an employer.

“During this time learners are given an invaluable insight into the world of work and a hands-on experience which inspires and shapes their future career paths whilst also preparing and equipping them with skills that are valued by industry.

"Furthermore, the Foundation Apprenticeship offers them the opportunity to learn in a programme and environment that has been solely designed with employment in mind. Subjects they are currently studying at school e.g. Maths, Physics or IT are given real-world value through contextualisation and simulation of industry. As a result, many learners better engage at school as abstract concepts now have real meaning and importance to their future career aspirations."

Foundation Apprenticeships are developed by Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with employers and funded by European Social Fund.


Email: Paul Fagan

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