Developing the Young Workforce: annual report 2016-2017

The third annual report on Scotland's youth employment strategy, setting out progress in the academic year 2016 to 2017


Reducing Youth Unemployment by 40% by 2021

The Scottish Government committed to annual reporting on progress of the Developing the Young Workforce Programme. This third annual report covers academic year 2016/17 and highlights early progress made in the first part of academic year 2017/18.

Developing the Young Workforce ( DYW) is Scotland’s youth employment strategy and through DYW, we aim to reduce youth unemployment levels by 40% by 2021. The strategy aims to create an excellent, work relevant education offer to young people in Scotland, giving them the skills for the current and anticipated jobs market. This includes creating new work based learning options; enabling young people to learn in a range of settings in their senior phase of school; embedding employer engagement in education; offering careers advice at an earlier point in school; and introducing new standards for career education and work placements.

Local authorities continue to have a lead role in the implementation of DYW, enabling young people to have access to a wide range of work-related learning opportunities. This is achieved through partnership working across schools, colleges, training providers, employers and relevant partners.


In this year we are delighted to report the achievement of the DYW programme’s headline target, to reduce youth unemployment in Scotland, excluding those in full-time education, by 40% by 2021 – four years ahead of schedule. For this target to be achieved, the youth unemployment level for those not in full-time education needs to be 31,000 or below. Whilst, the wider macro-economic and social factors can create flux in these figures, official statistics calculated in May 2017, shows that youth unemployment in Scotland, excluding those in full-time education has reduced from 52,000 in 2014 down to 27,000 in 2017.

Although the target has been achieved, and mindful of the significant role played by wider economic and social factors, it remains important that we continue our long term plans to strengthen education and skills partnerships. This is to ensure we can better guarantee the equality of experience across Scotland and minimise any downturn in youth employment should economic conditions become less favourable.

Other headlines this year include:

  • Senior level resource for DYW is present in all secondary schools;
  • SDS’s further expansion of Foundation Apprenticeship (SCQF level 6) are now available in all local authorities;
  • Further expansion of courses available at SCQF level 5 are now available in all local authorities;
  • Expansion of college courses available in schools;
  • A national DYW Leads network established for authorities and colleges, which acts as a hub to link other networks to support capacity building across the system;
  • Expansion of Modern Apprenticeships, with 26,262 MA starts in 2016-17;
  • Completion of the DYW employer network, there are now 21 employer-led groups covering the whole of the country; and
  • 390 businesses taking up the new Investors in Young People Accolade.

In taking forward DYW we aim to make an important contribution towards Scotland’s Economic Strategy in promoting inclusive growth.

Through the expansion of new work-based learning opportunities in Scotland, DYW helps improve the opportunities, life chances and wellbeing of all our young people.

In particular, DYW is helping to:

  • Tackle cross-generational inequality;
  • Address long-standing barriers in the labour market so that everyone has the opportunity to fulfill their potential; and
  • Promote fair work and build a labour market that provides sustainable and well-paid jobs.

Looking ahead, we expect to see the skills of our young people not only increase, but that these will better match the needs of employers to further the Scottish economy. As new policies become embedded across the education and skills system, we expect to see our young people better prepared for work with a clear expectation of fair employment. As work advances on equalities, which we cover in Chapter 5 of this report, we also expect to see developments in addressing gender imbalance in work and a decrease in the disability participation gap.

Clearly, significant challenges remain, and having reached the halfway point of our programme, we have highlighted three key improvement priorities:

  • To better purpose and align DYW and the National Attainment Challenge and communicate this alignment to head teachers, LAs and other stakeholders to maximise their input;
  • To support continuous improvement in curriculum design and development, that recognises the breadth of DYW qualifications and experiences; and
  • To work with the new Regional Improvement Collaboratives and their members in supporting a connected education and skills system.

In the upcoming year, our focus is on:

  • Ensuring the Careers Education Standard 3-18 and Work Placements Standard are implemented;
  • Expanding the college offer in schools and with it more Foundation Apprenticeships;
  • SDS is developing graduate level apprenticeships within the expansion of the apprenticeship family;
  • Doing more for disabled young people; and
  • Ensuring/supporting greater employer involvement in education for all learners

In taking this work forward, we will seek to align our efforts with the changing policy context, alongside the Commission on Widening Access, the Student Support Review and the 15-24 Learner Journey Review. We will also seek to align with the Scottish Government’s STEM Strategy, published in October 2017. This strategy supports the delivery of a number of our DYW recommendations, and we recognise the importance of coordinating this activity across both programmes of activity.

Further Information

Further information on the following can be found at:

  • Programme Board Membership
  • National Advisory Group Membership
  • DYW National Employer Group


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