Developing the Young Workforce: 2017-2018 progress report

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

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 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 fourteen recommendations (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.

A significant challenge laid out in the Commission’s report was the need to maximise the contribution of all young people in the world of work. In response to the Commission and at the outset of DYW, ambitious targets were set to improve outcomes for under-represented groups. These targets were set to focus stakeholders, partners and the sector on supporting all young people, in particular, those who face additional barriers to the world of work.

To date, we have seen good progress in reducing youth unemployment, such as the creation of additional opportunities for young people and improving employer engagement with the sector since DYW began. As we move into year five of the programme, the challenge will be ensuring that we prioritise those young people who continue to face barriers in an improving labour market, to enable them to achieve within an evolving employability and apprenticeship landscape.




Actual Figure

KPI 11: Increase positive destinations for looked after children by 4 percentage point per annum resulting in parity by 2021

69.3% (2012/13) 4% increase per annum (current target: 85.3%) 76% (2016/17)

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

The proportion of looked after children in a positive destination currently sits as 76% for 2016/17. Although the target has not been achieved, the gap is reducing, with an increase of 4.8 percentage points since 2015/16 and an increase of 6.7 percentage points since 2012/13.

To encourage the sharing of best practice, Education Scotland have published a toolkit on the hub to highlight Kibble’s work to support looked after and accommodated young people and showcase good practice exemplars such as East Ayrshire’s Flexible Pathways Programme to improve outcomes for this cohort of learners.

In recognition of some care experienced individuals having a later transition into the labour market, through DYW, SDS now offer enhanced funding up to age 29 in relation to the Modern Apprenticeship programme. Employers can also access Scotland’s Employer Recruitment Incentive scheme to provide additional funding and in-work support to care experienced young people in recognition of the additional barriers they may face.

Next Steps

Education Scotland will work with the Scottish Commission on Learning Disability from December 2018 to address the recommendations of their Employment Task Group.


We are pleased to see the positive progress in improving outcomes for care experienced young people this reporting period, and the sharing of good practice across the sector. 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 includes work to enhance CIAG provision, improve and increase work experience opportunities and improved support for undertaking apprenticeship opportunities.

Colleges (CT 3)



Actual Figure

KPI 8: Increase by 5 percentage points the minority gender share in each of the 10 largest and most imbalanced superclasses* among 16-24 year olds by 2021

2-10% range, 5% average (2012/13) 5% increase in each of 10 priority superclasses and/or 10% average share 8% average (2016/17)

(Recommendation 29 and 34)

In Colleges, the Scottish Funding Council published its Gender Action Plan in August 2016. As part of the GAP, SFC requested all institutions develop their own Gender Action Plan 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 4 December 2017 at the SFC national conference on gender. Notable achievements include the development and implementation of institutional GAPs (iGAPs) at both institutional level and faculty/department level and targeted initiatives to address subject-based gender imbalances.

However, there is a need for institutions to more closely measure impact of programmes and initiatives, and the need for institutions to set out firm and sustainable plans to increase the capacity of staff.

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

There has also been progress within particular college subject imbalances, including Building Service (3.6% increase to 6.6% minority share between 2011/12 to 2015/16) and Mechanical Engineering (2.4% increase to 8.5% minority share between 2011/12 and 2015/16). 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 2018/19

Next Steps

Colleges will continue to engage with schools to ensure senior phase pathways are helping to address gender imbalance. SFC are currently reviewing the GAP through the Gender Governance Group and with Education Scotland and NUS to make recommendations for practice, both regionally and nationally.


We are pleased to note the activity in this area, and look forward to further evidence of this progress being captured in the next reporting period. The GAP was published in 2016 and so we might not expect to see greater levels of progress against targets at this stage, however, we will be working with the SFC to understand their assessment of progress, in regard to institutional activity. Through the review meetings of the institutional GAP and the publication of the annual progress report in January 2019, we hope to see further evidence of progress and clear next steps.

Apprenticeships (CT 4)



Actual Figure

KPI 7: To reduce to 60% the percentage of MA frameworks where the gender balance is 75:25 or worse by 2021

73% (2013/14) 60% by 2020/21 72% (2017/18)

KPI 9: Increase the number of minority ethnic MA starts to equal the population share by 2021

1.1% (2013-14) The target will change year on year as the population share figure is updated (3.9% in 2016/17) 1.9% (2016/17)

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

To increase the number of young people taking up an apprenticeship in traditionally segregated sectors, we will continue to work closely with schools and other providers.

Education Scotland continue their work to embed equality education across Curriculum for Excellence. We have seen this extend into pre-school education, where Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) are challenging occupational stereotyping to support improvement in gender equality. In addition, they continue to work with the Care Inspectorate on developing a new ELC Gender resource which is due to be published by January 2019. This is in recognition of the importance of early intervention in the shaping of an individual’s bias and stereotyping.

In addition, the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science launched the next phase of the Improving Gender Balance Programme on 7 June. The proposed new activity aims to embed effective approaches to tackling stereotypes and addressing unconscious bias in every school cluster by 2022. To resource this activity, Education Scotland are currently recruiting a team of six gender balance equality officers to lead on this activity across the Regional Improvement Collaboratives. We have seen examples of good practice within the sector, and these have been included within a book of IGB case studies on the National Improvement Hub (NIH).

Gender imbalance in certain sectors continues to be a challenge. Ongoing MA expansion is mainly in sectors such as STEM and Construction, two areas which show marked gender segregation in the workforce and so this impacts the overall gender balance.

Alongside the IGB project, SDS have worked with Equate Scotland to develop an employer mentoring network module with the aim of supporting employers to retain women in male dominated occupational sectors. SDS is also supporting employers to undertake positive action in relation to attracting and recruiting individuals into sectors that are traditionally gender imbalanced.

We have seen positive progress in advancing equalities across the apprenticeship family. SDS published their Equalities Action Plan in 2016 – and have since broadened this to include Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships. Their second Annual Progress Report was published in July 2018. This latest update highlights a range of work, in partnership with others, to help drive change, including:

  • A partnership between SDS and, a training provider in Edinburgh, helping to improve the uptake of Modern Apprenticeships in the Hospitality sector from individuals from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds;
  • SDS working with OPITO and the OGTAP sponsors to carry out activities aimed to help employers engage more positively with young women and encourage more females to consider an apprenticeship within the industry;
  • With support from SDS, a local consortium was formed by Fife Voluntary Action, Fife College, Fife Council and Department for Work and Pensions. The consortium developed Accessible Fife: a project that aimed to improve access to Modern Apprenticeships in Fife for disabled people and/or those with health conditions.

As apprenticeship expansion continues, we must ensure equality and diversity is understood and embraced by employers and providers. To support this, SDS has launched an Employer Guide to Inclusive Recruitment. This provides practical advice to source, attract and retain apprentices or employees that businesses may have overlooked or had difficulty in accessing. Equality Executives and CIAG Advisors work within schools and community groups to promote pathways into apprenticeships for underrepresented groups.

These projects, and others like them, noted in the plan highlight 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. This is particularly true regarding gender segregation, where we continue to face cultural and societal inhibitors.

According to SDS data, we have also seen positive 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. 11.3% of starts self-identified an impairment, health condition or learning difficulty, an increase of 2.7 percentage points in 2016/17 (8.6%) and an increase of 7.4 percentage points since 2015/16 (3/9%), the baseline figure;
  • 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;
  • The proportion of MA starts who are care-experienced has also increased year on year. In 2017/18, 1.6% of care leavers took up a MA, an increase on 0.3 percentage points in 2016/17 (1.3%) and an increase of 0.7 percentage points in 2015/16 (0.9%), the baseline figure;
  • Since 2015/16, some improvement has been made to the gender breakdown of occupational groupings. For example, the proportion of starts who are female within the IT & Other Services occupational grouping has increased to 35% (+17 percentage points).
DYW KPI 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
KPI 7: To reduce to 60% the percentage of MA frameworks where the gender balance is 75:25 or worse by 2021 74% 70% 72%
KPI 9: Increase the number of minority ethnic MA starts to equal the population share by 2021: Mixed or Multiple; Asian; African; Caribbean or Black; and Other ethnic group* 1.6% 1.7% 1.9%

Further progress is being made by SDS to target equalities groups in promoting and communicating career options. ES has worked in partnership with SDS’s dedicated apprenticeship equality team to agree a coherent approach to contracting and reviewing MA training programmes.

In addition, SDS has built equality outcomes into the key performance measures that training providers are expected to demonstrate in their recruitment of apprentices. As a result, providers are expected to engage more with young people in schools and take positive action in their recruitment marketing e.g. running girls only taster activities.

To support this activity in schools, Education Scotland’s Post-16 team have identified transitions as a priority for their inspection team and will assess the current support available for young people transitioning from school onto apprenticeships. This will include, for example, reviewing the explicit action that schools take to encourage more diverse and under-represented groups into Foundation and Modern Apprenticeships.

Next Steps

This year, SDS have launched an ethnic intersectional initiative pilot programme as well as pre-apprenticeship support for people from EM backgrounds in their application to apprenticeship opportunities. It is expected that this will support an increase in the number of applicants from this cohort, and potentially enrolments. Following the pilot, SDS will expand and embed best practice learning from this work and report on this activity in the months ahead.

Following on from this work, SDS will publish a full equality impact assessment of apprenticeships in 2019, reviewing the evidence for any differences in needs or outcomes between equality groups.


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 by disabled and care experienced young people, with a particular focus on those with more complex needs. This includes further work focussed on supporting the uptake of MAs by EM individuals, expanding and embedding effective practice and learning from our work. There has been a slight increase in the number of minority ethnic starting a Modern Apprenticeship, however the rate of this progress will require additional focus between now and 2021.

Looking ahead, and being mindful of research undertaken by SG and SDS, published in May 2018, regarding the influence of parents and carers in determining young people’s pathways, we will be undertaking work to engage with parents to better support their understanding of the curriculum offer in schools, enabling them to provide the best possible support to their children – overcoming unconscious gender bias or stereotyping.

Employers (CT 5)

Baseline Target Actual Figure
KPI 10: Increase the employment rate for disabled young people to the population average by 2021 35.2% (Jan-Dec 2014) The employment rate for young people for 2017 is 59.4% – this target will change each year as the youth employment rate changes. (Jan-Dec 2017). 43.2% (Jan-Dec 2017)

(Recommendations 36 and 39)

In 2017/18 we have seen some evidence of progress in the introduction of supported work experience programmes for disabled young people. For example, the Scottish Government have a contract in place with Enable and Open Doors Scotland to support disabled young people undertaking their Modern Apprenticeships. This complements other related activity for disabled individuals, including enhanced apprenticeship funding up to the age of 29, and the SERI initiative to support employers to recruit disabled individuals.

To support teachers and practitioners, ES has published a number of key exemplars that highlight good practice in preparing young disabled people for the world of work and better develop their employability skills. For example, Sanderson High School’s flexible pathways programme, Parkhill Secondary School’s Enterprise Academy programme and Enable Scotland’s ‘Stepping Up’ Programme.

Next Steps

We now have a school-employer partnership framework to further assist us in understanding the array of partnerships present across each of the 21 regions. In the year ahead, we can expect to see the development of a coherent strategy for the DYW Regional Groups to support and engage with disabled young people. This will include the identification and sharing of existing good practice, and the consideration as to whether this activity can be represented across regions and nationally.

The Scottish Government will publish a Disability Employment Action Plan (DEAP) later this year, setting out initial steps towards achieving our ambition to reduce the disability employment gap by at least half and building on work underway across a number of programmes of activity. We can expect this work to accelerate the progress made to date.

Employers are key to increasing disability employment rates and the DEAP will set out how we will invest the £1m funding announced earlier this year to support employers in this. Disabled young people have highlighted the difficulty they often experience in moving through school, education or training and into work. We are working across SG and related bodies to try to establish what actions are underway to address the lack of progress on the DYW KPI to improve the disability employment rate and what further work is required.

Additional funding mechanisms have also been put in place with Skills Development Scotland and Local Authorities to encourage employers to continue to provide employment related support to care-experienced young people. The funding for this will continue until 2019.


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 those traditionally 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.

Next Steps

During 2018 – 2019, we expect to see:

  • On-going implementation and impact assessment of MA Equality Action Plan;
  • On-going implementation and impact assessment of SFC Gender Action Plan.

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 fully embedded within Curriculum for Excellence, 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.


Email: Paul Fagan

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