Developing the Young Workforce: annual report 2014-15

The first annual report on Scotland's youth employment strategy, setting out progress in year one of implementing the seven-year programme.


Foreword from the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training

Roseanna Cunningham

I’m delighted to present the first annual report of progress against our plans to implement the recommendations from the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.

18 months after the publication of Education Working for All! and 12 months on from launching our implementation plans in Developing the Young Workforce – Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy, this report details considerable progress made to date as well as refreshing our milestones for the period to 2021.

In pursuing this Government’s twin goals of achieving a fairer and more prosperous Scotland, we remain committed to this seven year campaign. This report confirms the breadth and effectiveness of our actions to strengthen the skills of our young people, to their own benefit and that of Scotland’s economy.

I’d like to thank our partners, including COSLA with whom we jointly lead the programme, for the energy and enthusiasm with which they are implementing Developing the Young Workforce. We have seen widespread support for our actions and we have responded in kind, including committing £12m in 2014/15 and £16.6m in 2015/16 to fund early implementation.

However this strategy is about providing work relevant learning opportunities for young people through mainstream provision. Our focus is therefore not on initiatives but rather on how the core offer to young people through our schools, colleges and training providers can best prepare them for future jobs and careers.

Scotland’s success in emerging industries, including but not solely those in science, technology, engineering and maths, is reliant on young people coming through the system with the right skills, abilities and qualifications. All of our young people should know about these exciting employment opportunities and be able to access routes into them. These options should be of an equally high quality whether they are delivered through college, an employer, other training provider or university.

Our schools are embracing the agenda, with Developing the Young Workforce offering a blueprint through which young people can develop skills for work. The reformed college sector is embracing the challenge of further enhancing its reach into schools and to employers, and the apprenticeship offer is evolving to offer work related learning to young people whilst at school.

At the heart of this effort is the ambition to bring employers closer to our education system, enabling them to help design and deliver what young people are learning.

We have enjoyed enthusiastic support from industry on this endeavour, as can be seen in the uptake of the Investors in Young People Accolade and the participation of a wide range of business interests in our new Developing the Young Workforce Regional Groups. This represents great progress in embedding employer engagement in education. Looking ahead I want to see a culture where it is unusual for an employer not to participate in shaping education, skills and training.

Ultimately, the success of this approach to youth unemployment will be seen in how it address inequalities and enables all young people, including those who face particular challenges, to move into the workforce. From challenging gender stereotypes in career choices to ensuring that young people with disabilities are able to thrive in work, this is challenging territory and we rightly continue to set ourselves stretching targets and commit to concrete actions to address it.

The next twelve months will not be easy, with significant reductions in public funding as a result of the UK Government’s Spending Review felt widely, potentially impacting on the scale and pace of our implementation plans. Our commitment to this approach will not change, and I look forward to working with partners across Scotland to do all we can to provide the best opportunities for young people to enjoy fulfilling working lives.

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills & Training
December 2015

Foreword from Councillor Stephanie Primrose, COSLA Education, Children and Young People Spokesperson

Stephanie Primrose

As COSLA’s Education, Children and Young People Spokesperson since the summer it gives me pleasure to present this first annual report of progress on the recommendations from Sir Ian Wood’s Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce.

The Developing the Young Workforce ( DYW) programme is very close to my heart as a former school teacher, particularly to make education more work relevant to young people. As such, it has been very encouraging to see the progress that has been made through the hard working efforts of local authority staff and other partners locally.

The DYW programme is without doubt a transformative agenda that is geared to not only give Scotland a motivated, highly skilled and well qualified young workforce, but also to reduce youth unemployment which of course is hugely important for the economic vitality of our local communities.

Local government has a pivotal role in the delivery of the aims of the DYW programme through a wide range of council services including economic development, education, human resources and social work. Therefore, it is very much a corporate agenda for local authorities. It is also a shared endeavour for local authorities with partners such as colleges and local employers to take the programme forward.

We are of course still at the early stages of this complex seven year programme and it is clear there will be significant challenges ahead for this crucial area of work to 2021. These range from a very tight financial context for the Scottish public sector and the need to ensure that there is sufficient capacity at a local level to take the agenda forward.

Nevertheless, I am very hopeful that the enthusiasm, drive and commitment of local government, Scottish Government and other partners will maintain the momentum over the years ahead, given the strong support the programme has received to date.

Councillor Stephanie Primrose, COSLA Education, Children and Young People Spokesperson
December 2015


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