Developing the Young Workforce: 2017-2018 progress report

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

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)

  • In 2016, 32% of employers recruited a young person directly from education. This figure was also 32% in 2014.[2]


  • 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
  • In 2016, 39% of employers offered a work experience placement, an increase from 37% in 2014.

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

One of the key recommendations of DYW is to bring employers and education closer together in collaborative partnerships. By doing so, the key ambition – aligned to the wider ambitions of Developing the Young Workforce – is that all young people, through support from employers to co-design the curriculum, will become better equipped with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to flourish in work. We also want to support employers to make a strong contribution to realising the Scottish Government’s ambition for every school cluster (i.e. secondary and associated primary schools) to be working with a STEM partner from the public, private or third sector by 2020.


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.

In this year, we have developed new guidance on school employer partnerships collaboratively with education, local authorities, employers and the DYW Regional Groups

The guidance establishes an ambition for increasing numbers of strategic level partnerships. This describes a type of partnership 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.

Schools as well as the DYW Regional Groups are now being asked to use the guidance to further develop their partnerships over the coming year.

Supporting and encouraging publicly funded growth businesses and investment companies

To support and enhance our approach to DYW, in October 2018, The First Minister set out a new approach of Fair Work First that will seek to agree with business how we consider the application of fair work policies in procurement, grants and other support. This will include a commitment to

  • investment in skills and training;
  • no exploitative zero hours contracts;
  • action on gender pay;
  • genuine workforce engagement, including with trade unions; and
  • payment of the Real Living Wage.

We can expect to see a positive impact on the employment of young people as a result of Fair Work First’s implementation, and we will seek to align the activity within this area with that of the DYW Regional Groups.

Scotland’s Employer Recruitment Incentive (SERI)

Scotland’s Employer Recruitment Incentive (SERI) has a focus on supporting employment of targeted groups of young people including supporting SMEs to employ young people, including apprentices. Employers and local authorities value the simplicity of the SERI offer and the payment structure. We have seen SERI being successful and has been used to support 550 young people in the period 2016/17.

In the past year, SERI has been refocused to concentrate support on young people facing barriers to employment with an additional focus on those with additional support needs.

To support young people who face additional barriers to entering the workplace, we are working with Enable and Open Doors Scotland to provide additional support for up to 60 young people undertaking Modern Apprenticeships, who due to these barriers might otherwise not be able to undertake an apprenticeship. One of the aims of the programme is to train co-workers and supervisors to make it easier for employers to recruit people with similar barriers in the future.


As we move into year five of the programme, our focus will be on more systematic and purposeful engagement to improve outcomes for young people, particularly those who require additional support, as we enhance the relationship between employers and education. We will work to increase the momentum and ensure more is done to address the disability employment gap and reforming current employability programmes. In addition we will work with Education Scotland to ensure all young people have access to meaningful work experience and other employer supported activity whilst at school.

DYW continues to contribute towards the Scottish Government’s ambition to reduce the disability employment gap by at least half. Currently, the gap between those with and those without disabilities is 16.2 percentage points, with only 43.2% of disabled people and people with long term health conditions in employment compared to 59.4% of non-disabled people. This means that many disabled people who want to work are being denied the social and financial benefits of employment, while employers across Scotland are often missing out on a talented and skilled workforce.

There is evidence of positive impact in this area – for example the employment rate for young disabled people has increased from 35.6% in January–December 2016 to 43.2% for the same period in 2017. This is also an increase of 8.0 percentage points compared to the baseline figure of 35.2% in 2014. DYW’s annually updated target for the employment rate of young disabled people is, as of January-December 2017, 59.4%.

Disability Employment Action Plan

In 2016, the Scottish Government committed in A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People to seek to reduce the disability employment gap by at least half. Currently, the gap between those with and those without disabilities is 35.8 percentage points, with only 45.4% of disabled people and people with long term health conditions in employment compared to 81.2% of those with no disabilities. (APS, Jan-Dec 2017). This means that many disabled people who want to work are being denied the social and financial benefits of employment, while employers across Scotland are often missing out on a talented and skilled workforce. Later this year, the Scottish Government will publish a Disability Employment Action Plan setting out our initial steps towards achieving our ambition, and building on work underway across the Scottish Government, from Early Years through to supporting older workers. Links between health and employability support are a key element of this.

In developing the plan, young disabled people have told us that they feel they and their families are not always supported consistently to make successful transitions from school into employment learning or training. While supporting the DYW recommendations, we are working across Scottish Government, local government and organisations such as the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland to ensure that the work to support the equalities strands of DYW is agreed to secure better outcomes for disabled young people.

Next Steps

During 2018 - 2019, we expect to see:

  • Meaningful and productive school/employer partnerships operating in all secondary schools;
  • The increasing uptake of the on-line matching service “MarketPlace” which links the requirements of schools and learners with activity offered by employers;
  • Greater emphasis on the promotion of the apprentice family and particular Foundation Apprenticeships.

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

Two senior pupils at Douglas Ewart High School in Newton Stewart joined Forestry Enterprise Scotland as new apprentices. The two pupils took part in a rigorous selection process and were among eight successful candidates chosen from over 350 applicants to join the apprenticeship scheme.

In March 2017, DYW Dumfries & Galloway was invited to attend the CONFOR South of Scotland quarterly conference. The brief from the organisers was for the DYW Regional Group to explain how it could help Forestry Enterprise Scotland (FES), who were faced with the challenge of an ageing workforce and the lack of attraction into the industry, FES needed to find a way to inspire, encourage and recruit young people to work in forestry. Following the conference, the Group was introduced to senior managers at FES Dumfries &Galloway and Scottish Woodlands, with whom possible initiatives to attract new talent were discussed.

In November of 2017, Forestry Enterprise Scotland (FES) advertised for eight new apprentices in Forest and Timber based in Dumfries and Galloway. These apprentices work towards a Trees and Timber Modern Apprentice Level 2 and 3 qualifications. Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) Barony provides training & assessment. DYW Dumfries & Galloway programme managers promoted this opportunity in local high schools and four pupils were selected from Douglas Ewart High School to attend an interview.

During the application and interview process the high school’s Youth Guarantee Coordinator helped the pupils with their applications forms and with suggestions for their interviews. Both young people had previously considered going to college or university, but were also looking at apprenticeship options. When the Group brought the FES apprenticeship to the school’s attention, both knew this was something they should consider. Throughout this process there was support from the local DYW programme manager, who helped with things like accessing extra application advice from FES. The school also arranged with FES for time off at the start of their apprenticeship for the young people to return to school to sit their exams. Upon 2 years successful completion of the apprenticeship, the two young people will have the opportunity to apply for a range of permanent roles within Forestry Enterprise Scotland; both are hopeful they’ll stay in the industry.


Email: Paul Fagan

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