Developing the Young Workforce: 2017-2018 progress report

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

Chapter 2 – Colleges

More 16-24 year olds achieving positive destinations from college

Key Indicators

Outcomes (KPIs)

  • 85.3% of leavers who have successfully completed a full time course go onto positive destinations, further study or work, an increase of 1.4 percentage points from 2015/16 (83.9%) and an increase of 2.4 percentage points since 2014/15 (82.9%).
  • The minority gender share increased by at least 1 percentage point in 6 out of the 10 largest and most imbalanced college superclasses between 2015/16 and 2016/17. This has increased by at least 1 percentage point in 9 out of the 10 largest and most imbalanced college superclasses from the baseline measurement in 2012/13. The target is a 5% increase across each superclass, and/or a 10% average share, by 2021.


  • 67.8% of full-time college learners successfully completed their course in 2016/17. This is a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from 68% in 2015/16, and a decrease of 0.2 percentage points compared to the baseline figure, (68%, 2013/14).
  • 63.3% of senior phase pupils studying vocational qualifications delivered by colleges successfully completed in 2016/17, a decrease of 2 percentage points since 2015/16 and a decrease of 2.7 percentage points since 2013/14.

(This activity delivers on Developing the Young Workforce Recommendations 4, 5, 6, 12, 17, 29, 34.)

Raising attainment is a shared priority across education. It’s important, therefore, that the different parts of the education and skills system work well together to make it as easy as possible for learners to achieve and progress successfully into employment.

Responding to the different learning styles and support needs of a diverse group of learners is a key priority for colleges, to ensure students successfully complete their course and progress to higher level study and or work.

DYW states an ambition for measured collaboration between colleges and schools, and the progress of this was set out in Chapter one. In addition, DYW supports the Scottish Government’s ambition or a world-class system of vocational education, in which colleges work with schools and employers to deliver learning that is directly relevant to getting a job, and building a career through further and higher education.

In support of this, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) works with colleges and other partners at regional and national levels to oversee and support the college sector to:

  • Ensure young people are able to access more vocational options during the senior phase of secondary school, which deliver routes into good jobs and careers, developed through effective partnership between schools, colleges, local authorities and other partners;
  • Improve opportunities and experiences for all learners, with a focus on reducing gender imbalance on course take-up;
  • Align college provision with economic needs and regional planning, with a focus on STEM where appropriate;
  • Support college leaders and staff to develop the skills required to meet the Commission's ambitions for the sector;
  • Maximise employer engagement;
  • Develop college outcome agreements to underpin improvements and measure progress.


This year we have seen an increase in the percentage of 16-24 year old college students who have successfully completed a full time course and who have moved into employment or higher level study. In 2016/17, 85.3% of young people made this transition, an increase from 83.9% in 2015/16 and 82.9% in 2014/15.

At the same time, we have also seen a very slight decrease in the proportion of full time college learners successfully completing their course. In 2016/17, 67.8% of college learners completed their course, a decrease from 68% in 2015/16 and 68% in 2013/14, the baseline figure on which progress is measured.

Gender Action Plans

Progress continues to be made in delivering the SFC’s ambitious Gender Action Plan. Review meetings have been held with a sample of institutions to discuss progress made in AY2017-18. Along with a commentary on progress to date, the outcomes of these meetings will be available n the Gender Action Plan Annual Progress Report 2018, which will be published by January 2019. Review meetings with institutions will continue in AY2018/19.

SFC held the National Gender Conference on 25 October 2018, the event focused on ‘Intersectional Gender Equalities in Colleges and Universities’. Best practice in GAPs from across Colleges and Universities was showcased including - Enhancing Student Engagement in GAPs, Preventing and Responding to Gender Based Violence, and Addressing the Gender Pay Gap in Scotland’s colleges and universities. Learning from the event will be captured within the Annual Report and the updates of existing institutional GAPs (iGAPs) that Colleges and Universities will undertake in AY 18-19.

Case Study: City of Glasgow College – Addressing gender underrepresentation at subject-level

For its institutional Gender Action Plan (iGAP), City of Glasgow College developed a comprehensive framework covering the whole institution, identifying the need to engage with DYW leads on its new plan. Taking as its starting point with the most pronounced gender imbalances and developed individual Faculty Gender

The action plan has prioritised action in: Faculty of Building, Engineering & Energy; Faculty of Business; Faculty of Creative Industry; Faculty of Education & Lifestyle; Faculty of Leisure & Lifestyle; and the Faculty of Nautical Studies.

The College has utilised equality self-assessment tools and Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) to assist individual faculties to develop their action plans. Each faculty-level GAP outlines current and forthcoming actions to address subject-based gender imbalances, in among wider work consistent with the key aims and strategic themes of SFC’s Gender Action Plan.

City of Glasgow College’s iGAP states:

Our College will work with the Glasgow Region Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce lead to support delivery of the recommendations of the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce, including actions to improve gender balance and increase the intersectional benefits for other protected groups… Our Gender Action Plan will support improving opportunities and experiences for all students, with a focus on reducing gender imbalance on course take-up with a view to developing the young workforce.”

Full CoGC iGAP:

College Employer Engagement Framework

SFC uses the Outcome Agreement process to evidence the level and extent to which colleges engage with employers and industry groups. To further enhance levels of employer engagement and improve the evidence base an Employer Engagement Framework has been developed and is currently being consulted on with sector representatives. The intention is to incorporate the framework within the college quality arrangements for AY 2018-19 - as part of their evaluative processes colleges would evaluate their provision against criteria within the framework.


The priorities for College Outcome Agreements and associated College funding were outlined in the Outcome Agreement Guidance for 2019-20 issued in October 2018. The ‘Intensification’ of OA targets and negotiations- begun in AY 18-19 will continue into AY 19-20, this will include an emphasis on improving the learner journey, and with it retention and attainment.

We will seek to build on the work of the Colleges Improvement Project in support of more institutions working to increase numbers of young learners successfully completing their courses.

As part of this, four strategic engagements across Scotland are planned for early 2019 to include Colleges, HMIs, OA Managers, Local Authority Directors of Education, RICs and other stakeholders to discuss improved regional curriculum planning and in support of improved outcomes for senior phase learners.

Looking ahead

Employer Engagement framework – To be tested with colleges and stakeholders and incorporated within College quality arrangements for AY 2018-19

Next Steps

During 2018 - 2019, we expect to see:

  • College outcome agreements for academic year 2019-20 signed off, showing evidence of well-developed partnerships with secondary schools, local authorities and employers;
  • Vocational course options available across all schools;
  • Increased numbers of 16-24 year olds successfully completing courses;
  • Increased numbers of sustained positive destinations from college for 16-24 year olds.

During 2019 - 2020, we expect to see:

  • College outcome agreements for academic year 2020-21 reflect a regional curriculum, with vocational options widely available, informed by secondary schools, local authorities and employers;
  • Reporting on employer engagement.

During 2020 - 2021, we expect to see:

  • College outcome agreements for academic year 2021-22 reflect a regional curriculum, with vocational options widely available, informed by secondary schools, local authorities and employers.

Case Study:

West Lothian College – Employer Engagement

Engineering Project with Mitsubishi Electric

Eight HND Engineering students successfully completed a work experience project with Mitsubishi Electric. The students received support from College teaching staff and Mitsubishi staff during the project that included approximately 20 days of placement in Mitsubishi premises. The students developed training manuals for processes and procedures associated with the manufacture of air-conditioning units, which Mitsubishi staff will use for future training purposes.

Whilst the main purpose of the project was for the students to obtain work experience, the placement also allowed the college to identify where classroom delivery could be replaced with learning on the job. The placement also demonstrated the value that work based learning provides:

“The project helped me to see the link between my College theory work and the practical work carried out in the manufacturing industry. I learned a lot by working with engineers in the factory, and how they all work with each other. It also helped me with my College studies, in Project Planning, research work, Health and Safety and team-working”

“I really enjoyed working with College and Mitsubishi staff on this project. It made me understand college theory work so much better. I’m going to University next year and it has helped me to carry out research work. I feel that I am much more employable now too”

In addition to the support from Mitsubishi staff, the students got to see the application of innovative technologies and experience, its current practices, and an industrial environment. Through this they were able to develop employability skills and soft skills, such as timekeeping and attendance, attention to detail, accuracy, team-working, and problem solving.

The benefits to the learning experience were clear, with the students achieving about 25% of their coursework whilst taking part in this project.

The Project has gained national and International recognition, winning the following Awards.

  • British Council International Skills Partnership Award - Winners of the Sustainable Collaboration Category. March 2018.
  • Herald Higher Education Awards – Winners of the Outstanding Employer Engagement Award in Colleges and Universities. June 2018.
  • Scottish Training Federation – Winners of the Success in Partnership Award. September 2018.


Email: Paul Fagan

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