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 4: Employers

Progress in Employers

  • Established 21 employer-led regional groups.
  • 2016 UK employer survey shows 21% of employers had offered a work placement to a school pupil in the last 12 months – a significant improvement from 2014 (10%) – ( UK CES Employer Perspectives Survey, 2016).

13% of Scottish employers have conducted work inspiration activities (for example, mentoring support or employer visits to speak at schools, colleges and universities – ( UK CES Employer Perspectives Survey, 2016).

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


Delivering inclusive economic growth relies on improving the relationship between industry and education. To assist this we have developed an industry led network comprising of 21 regional employer groups across Scotland.

More information regarding the groups can be found here:

The groups aspire to engage industry leaders as part of a network of private, public and third sector employers to:

  • Support more young people into employment;
  • Produce a broader range of employment opportunities for young people in school;
  • Enable permanent behavioural change among the employer and education communities; and
  • Create a sustainable industry-led infrastructure.

We think this network, although still evolving, is a key underpinning of sustainable industry-education partnerships. In recognising the importance of these partnerships, we have invested in and will continue to support the network until 2021.


Key themes and milestones for employer engagement

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

  • 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.

The 2016 UK CES Employer Perspectives Survey shows marked improvements in employer - school engagement. For example, 21% of employers had offered a work placement to a school pupil in the last 12 months, which is considerably higher than in 2014 (10%). It is also slightly higher than the UK average of 20%.

Within this survey, around 13% of Scottish employers have conducted work inspiration activities (for example, mentoring support or employer visits to speak at schools, colleges and universities) in the 12 months preceding the survey. This was higher than the average of 10% for the UK as a whole.

Progress has been made with the development of SIPs and RSAs, the significant expansion of the Investors in Young People ( IIYP) framework and the development of focused financial incentives to offset the additional cost and better support the sustainable employment of targeted groups of young people.

Whilst we can see that there are good examples through case studies, there is a challenge in assessing the value added the DYW regional employer groups make especially in delivering the long-term cultural change needed in the relationship between industry and employers. Whilst we can cite good examples of industry leadership and an expansion of work placements, we are keen to assess and attribute the wider difference that the groups are making overall. Work to do this is underway and will be developed over the next year.

Marketplace for employers

We are continuing to facilitate the improvement and strengthening of employer and education engagement through the roll out of the online digital platform Marketplace. Over 300 employers have registered with Marketplace since its launch to offer opportunities to schools across Scotland.

Marketplace is a digital meeting place for businesses and education to engage in planned activity and allow businesses to be more involved the school curriculum and school experience. Marketplace is being used by 7 of the employer groups – Edinburgh, East and Mid Lothian, Glasgow, North East, Ayrshire, Forth Valley, West Lothian and Dundee and Angus. Plans are in place to extend this to more groups over the next year.

As part of the expansion of Marketplace, a partnership has been established with the Founders4Schools initiative. This will allow schools to extend the range of opportunities available to pupils by drawing from the widest range of employers possible.

Flexible Workforce Development Fund

In September, we launched the Flexible Workforce Development Fund ( FWDF). This new £10m fund available to organisations from across the private, public and third sectors who are subject to the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy.

The one-year pilot fund focuses on the up-skilling and re-skilling of existing employees of any age, with individual Levy-paying employers in Scotland able to access up to £10,000 of college provision.

The FWDF was developed in line with the Scottish Government’s 2016 consultation on the UK Government’s Apprenticeship Levy, and is part of a range of skills, training and employability support available, including the expansion of our Modern Apprenticeship programme.


Having completed the establishment of 21 DYW regional groups we now have the foundation of a network of industry led groups capable of organising deliberate and purposeful engagement in schools. This is a significant addition to our enterprise and skills landscape.

The challenge now is to ensure the network can become sustainable and over time capable of providing schools with planned, systematic engagement that extends beyond one-off work fairs to more involvement in curriculum design and delivery and ultimately to a greater role in school leadership.

Next Steps

During 2017 - 2018, we will see:

  • School/employer partnerships operating in most secondary schools;
  • Introduction of supported work placement programme for young disabled people;
  • Skills Investment Plans refreshed taking account of senior phase vocational pathways;
  • Delivery of mentoring support for young people in care as part of the Investors in Young People accolade.
  • Digital matching platform Marketplace rolled out to the remaining DYW Regional groups.

During 2018 - 2019, we will see:

  • Meaningful and productive school/employer partnerships operating in all secondary schools.

During 2019 - 2020, we will see:

  • Employer satisfaction driving parts of the system nationally and informing regional curriculum planning fully.

During 2020 - 2021, we will see:

  • Sustainable structures to support employers' active contribution in place and contributing effectively to the development of the young workforce.


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