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

Chapter 1: Schools

Progress in Schools

  • In 15/16 the percentage of school leavers attaining vocational qualifications at SCQF level 5 rose by 1.7% to 10.7%. Overall this has increased by 3.4% since the programme began.
  • This year more than 1,200 young people were enrolled in Foundation Apprenticeships, an increase from 346 in 2016. In the programme’s initial pathfinder phase; in 2015 there were 287 starts, and in 2014 there were 72 starts.
  • Dedicated senior resource engaged in DYW activity in almost every school.

(This activity delivers on Developing the Young Workforce Recommendations 1, 2, 3, 16, 26, 27, 28, 33, 37)


As we reach the mid-point of DYW implementation, we can reflect on the strengthening partnership between our education system and the world of work. This collaborative approach remains key in driving the ambitions of DYW and closing the attainment gap, ensuring every child in Scotland can achieve their best possible outcomes.

In this year, the Scottish Government has increased its commitment to DYW, through the Education Delivery Plan - Delivering Equity and Excellence in Scottish Education, which sets out how the Scottish Government will work with partners to deliver excellence and equity for every child in education in Scotland.

To help us deliver these aims of excellence and equity, the National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan has established 4 key priorities:

  • Improvement in attainment, particularly in literacy and numeracy;
  • Closing the attainment gap between the most and least disadvantaged children;
  • Improvement in children and young people's health and wellbeing; and
  • Improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school-leaver destinations for all young people.

The aspiration for everyone working in Scottish education is to be clear about how they can contribute to addressing these priorities.

This work is part of our vision for a school and teacher-led education system, as set out in the Education Governance: Next Steps report, which details the reforms we will take forward following the review of education governance, to drive improvement and to enable our education system to realise our ambition of excellence and equity for all. Under these reforms, new Regional Improvement Collaboratives ( RICs) have been established to bring together and through collaboration enhance local authority, Education Scotland and other expertise and support, to ensure that schools across Scotland receive responsive, high quality education support which has a positive impact on children’s learning.

Throughout 2016/17, significant work has been conducted in awareness raising and establishing leadership and practitioner networks to support the implementation of DYW. A survey of each Local Authority, undertaken in November 2016, asked whether senior resource was in place in secondary schools in each authority dedicated to the development and coordination of senior phase vocational pathways. Almost all (354/356) secondary schools reported, via the Area Lead Officer network, that they had a ‘senior staff resource’ in place and that they were engaged in DYW activity.

The National DYW Leads (Authorities and Colleges) Network was established early in 2016 and meets bi-monthly to support capacity building across the system, this includes linking with the employer- led DYW Regional groups. Over 2017/18, its focus will be on ensuring there are meaningful and productive school-employer partnerships operating in all secondary schools.

DYW is supporting improvements across early years settings, primary and secondary schools across all curriculum areas. DYW also supports a focus on, science, technology, engineering and mathematics ( STEM) and the principles of DYW are embedded in the Scottish Government's STEM Education and Training Strategy for Scotland. STEM work-based pathways and opportunities for children and young people (3-18) form an important part of the strategy, ensuring young people have the skills, knowledge and capability required to adapt and thrive in the fast-paced changing world and economy.


Key themes and milestones for schools

Achieving our ambitions for the young workforce requires a focus on:

  • Expanding the offer - increasing the routes from school into employment or further and higher education which is closely linked to employment;
  • Promoting and shaping the offer - engaging with young people, parents, teachers and practitioners, partners and employers;
  • Supporting teachers and practitioners to develop children's and young people's learning about the world of work;
  • Providing earlier relevant labour market focussed careers advice when young people need it, leading to better outcomes;
  • Embedding meaningful employer involvement; and
  • Consolidating partnership working with colleges and other training providers.

Senior Phase Vocational Pathways

We have seen good progress in the expansion of the curriculum offer for our young people through an increased number of college courses delivered within schools. DYW is particularly interested in the availability in school to undertake college courses at SCQF level 5 and above. In schools we want more of these ‘higher level’ vocational courses to connect with other courses to provide pathways to higher level skills, enhancing young people’s readiness for the world of work. We refer to such connected courses as evidence of senior phase vocational pathways.

We want all young people to have access to these pathways and since the start of DYW there is evidence of more of them becoming available in more schools.

Figures from the Scottish Funding Council show that:

  • The number of SCQF level 5 courses continued to increase between 2014-15 and 2015-16;
  • There has been an increasing uptake of these courses in the senior phase, rising from 2,169 to 3,014 enrolments in 2015-16;
  • Overall, the percentage of school leavers attaining vocational qualifications at SCQF 5 or above also rose from 7.3% in 2013/14 to 9% in 2014/15, with increases in 28 of 32 local authorities. And, during this period, the percentage of school leavers attaining vocational qualifications increased at all SCQF levels from 2% to 6%;
  • In the current academic year (17-18), the SFC forecasts further increases in recruitment with over 3,500 school pupils on SCQF level 5 and above college courses projected; and
  • Looking at the forecast activity from colleges over the next three years, colleges project a continued expansion: for example for Academic Year 17-18 an increase of 110% on AY 16-17 and by the end of the three year cycle, an increase of over 130% enrolments. SFC College Outcome Agreements for AY 17-18 were published in summer 2017 and can be viewed at These agreements include DYW priorities and set out an expansion target for senior phase pathway enrolments of 7,000 by 2019-20.

Whilst noting this progress, we remain mindful of the level of ambition both within and across the system. As it stands, if all forecast DYW activity (at SCQF level 5 and above) was delivered, in Academic Year 2020, it would still represent a relatively modest percentage of the senior phase cohort. It is important, therefore, that we continue to support strong local collaboration, building a clear understanding of where more can be done to widen choice and overcome the current variability in opportunity, to ensure DYW is available equally across all schools.

Foundation Apprenticeships

To ensure vocational courses can lead to higher level skills, both at university as well as work, Skills Development Scotland ( SDS), in partnership with local authorities, and industry, developed a new qualification, the Foundation Apprenticeship – as part of the family of apprenticeships, which provides young people with higher level work-based learning and employment experience. This qualification is at SCQF level 6, the equivalent to the same level of learning and or qualification as a Scottish Higher and presents a vocational learning destination in school – something for our young people to aspire to and tackling at the outset both employer needs and parity of esteem.

To ensure all young people can access these new level 6 qualifications, SDS have undertaken work with schools and colleges to align school curriculum to create pathways into Foundation Apprenticeships. This year, for example, SDS have piloted new work based learning qualifications at SCQF level 4 and 5, involving work based learning. This includes a project at SCQF level 4, which started in August 2017, with S3 pupils in Brechin High school in partnership with Dundee & Angus College and involving a number of local employers.

The Scottish Government reaffirmed its commitment to Foundation Apprenticeships with the announcement in March 2017, for there to be 5,000 places available by 2019. To achieve this we need to make sure that all young people get the right support to take up these new qualifications.

This year, 1,200 pupils from across every local authority area in Scotland had the opportunity to start a Foundation Apprenticeship. This represents an almost five-fold increase in the number of pupils enrolled on a Foundation Apprenticeship.

Careers Education Standard

Education Scotland have published a set of resources to support practitioners, employers, young people and parents in understanding the different pathways available and how they can meet the different needs and aspirations of our young people. These resources can be used by those involved in the planning and delivery of the senior phase curriculum to understand the flexibility of learning pathways and the extent to which these can be tailored to meet the individual needs of young people, to aid their journey through the senior phase and into a sustained positive destination. Further resources to inspire and support change can be accessed on the DYW Summary page.

Careers advice and guidance

To support and enable young people in considering their entry into the workplace, Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) have developed a comprehensive range of career information advice and guidance ( CIAG) services. This includes:

  • An early career education digital offer for primary schools P5-P7 via My World of Work (MyWoW).
  • SDS’s web service for individuals, MyWoW;
  • Group engagements at P7/S1 through to Senior Phase;
  • Parental engagement from P7/S1 to S6;
  • Career guidance 1:1 support at subject choice phase including 1:1 offer for parents/carers; and
  • A sustained coaching relationship from S3 to S6 delivering 1:1 career guidance interventions.

These services were introduced to 36 schools in academic year 2015-16, and following positive reception, this suite of supportive measures was extended to all secondary schools in Scotland in academic year 2016-17.


  • A recent review found that the Career Education – a fundamental building block for DYW – is not yet being implemented across all schools and early years settings;
  • Whilst we are seeing impact at a local level, there remains inconsistency across the system and we must work to address this to ensure the consistent delivery of outcomes for all of our young people;
  • Further progress is needed to ensure that quality work placements are available in line with the Work Placement Standard;
  • There remains uncertainty over the DYW Lead Coordinator posts in some local authorities;
  • There is still work to be done to help schools make the connections between DYW and other educational priorities including the National Improvement Framework and Scottish Attainment Challenge; and
  • Although secondary schools are beginning to harness opportunities presented through industry partnerships, primary schools are yet to embrace and embed partnership working with employers and businesses.


  • The emergence of Regional Improvement Collaboratives, which can further strengthen the collaboration already established under DYW, providing the platform for all parts of the education system to co-design and deliver a more coherent learning experience for young people; and
  • DYW’s key role in addressing challenges presented by recent reports on skills gaps and current and future economic growth/potential.

Next Steps

During 2017-18, we will see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase;
  • SDS will further expand of Foundation Apprenticeships across Scotland with new Foundation Apprenticeships in Scientific Technologies and Creative Digital Media available to study, increasing the number of frameworks to ten;
  • A significant expansion in the number of pupils participating in Foundation Apprenticeships, covering every Scottish local authority area, with the support of SDS;
  • Delivery of mentoring support for young people in care as part of the Investors in
  • Young People accolade;
  • From inception, the Insight online benchmarking tool reflects a wide range of awards, including a range of vocational qualifications, undertaken in schools or through school college partnerships where these awards meet the criteria for inclusion;
  • School/employer partnerships operating in most secondary schools; and
  • We will align with the STEM Strategy and seek to coordinate progress across both programmes of activity.

During 2018 - 2019, we will see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase;
  • Pathfinder activity on Foundation Apprenticeships and equalities being rolled out across the country;
  • All secondary schools will have active partnerships with regional colleges;
  • Further expansion of Foundation Apprenticeship delivery across Scotland; and
  • Meaningful and productive school/employer partnerships operating in all secondary schools.

During 2019 - 2020, we will see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase.

During 2020-2021, we will see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase.


Back to top