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 5: Equalities

Progress in Equalities

  • The Stepping Up Programme, run by Enable Scotland, has supported 1571 young people with disabilities in 70 schools across 11 local authorities to access careers guidance and work placements. 98% of those engaged achieved a positive destination.
  • 1.7% of MA starts reported being from a minority ethnic group, slightly higher than in 2015/16 (1.6%).
  • SERI has supported more than 1,600 employers to recruit disadvantaged young people, including those with disabilities or experience of care

(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.

One of the major challenges laid out in the Commission’s report was the need to maximise the contribution of all our young people in the world of work. From as early as primary and nursery education, young people should have a clear picture of all the career choices available to them, to equip them with the skills and knowledge to make more informed choices throughout their school studies and beyond.

To advance equality throughout the education system, schools are embedding equality within Curriculum for Excellence. This is being progressed through a clear communication of career options, with significant involvement from employers and colleges. This work is actively targeting equality groups to promote diverse participation across gender, ethnicity, young people with disabilities and care leavers.

Our delivery partners, SDS, have set out in their Modern Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan a range of actions to promote more diversity in the successful uptake of Modern Apprenticeship frameworks, including:

  • Support young people with disabilities through transition periods in their education and into employment;
  • Reduce gender stereotyping and gender segregation in career choices and occupational routes chosen by young people in education;
  • Broaden the range of career pathways taken by young people from Scotland’s Minority Ethnic ( ME) communities; and
  • Support young people in care and leaving care through transition periods in their education and into employment.

These actions have been developed in partnership with a stakeholders and a comprehensive review of existing literature, highlighting the many factors which can affect young people’s participation in Modern Apprenticeships. The plan further highlights the outcomes and timescales set against each action along with a commitment to update the plan on an annual basis.

Similarly, the Scottish Funding Council has developed a Gender Action Plan to address imbalance on college super courses and university courses. Working in partnership with Skills Development Scotland and Education Scotland, SFC will encourage greater collaboration between our institutions and schools, with a focus on tackling gender imbalances at all stages of the learner journey.

We will further promote and support this activity within the implementation of our STEM strategy to achieve a better gender balance and address the negative impact of social disadvantage in STEM courses, training and work.

Our targets on equalities are ambitious – deliberately so. The challenge going forward will be to ensure 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.

An Equality Impact Assessment ( EQIA) reporting the progress of the DYW programme in the first three years was published in December 2017. This can be found within the following link:


Target Most recent update of figures
KPI 11: Increase positive destinations for looked after children by 4 percentage point per annum resulting in parity by 2021 4% increase per annum (current 81.3%) 71.2% (2015/16)

Over 2016/17, we have seen good progress in a number of local authorities through the provision of tailored learning plans to young people under 16 years of age who have disengaged from education, or are at risk of doing so. A range of good practice exemplars have been published on Education Scotland’s National Improvement Hub and Education Scotland is continuing to engage with Youthlink and Local Authorities to identify and share effective practice to ensure a more consistent approach.

A range of school clusters have benefitted from tailored support and professional learning through the Improving Gender Balance Project to support whole setting approaches to promoting gender equality. These learning approaches have been developed with early learning, primary and secondary schools and are now being extended to a larger number of authorities through the Raising Aspiration in Science Education ( RAiSE) programme and the STEM Education and Training Strategy. Staff in the nine local authorities participating in the RAiSE Programme have now received improving Gender Balance ( IGB) training. This training has also been rolled out to career information and guidance staff across Scotland in partnership with Skills Development Scotland.

A range of resources and action guides have been produced through the programme and are being promoted to early learning and childcare settings and schools through Education Scotland’s National Improvement Hub. Through the Improving Gender Balance programme, a wide range of museums, Third Sector Organisation and STEM providers have also been supported to review their models, approaches and educational resources from a gender-balance perspective.

Also within schools, Education Scotland continues to strengthen its focus on equalities to support the embedding of equality within Curriculum for Excellence. In addition to developing a new Equality Policy and Strategy, it has also reviewed the equality content and resources available to schools through its National Improvement Hub. Briefings and training have been provided to staff to ensure equality is embedded across DYW and all its major programmes.

As a result, we now have a clearer understanding and exemplification of what works with young people at risk of disengaging/already disengaged. This will be promoted and evaluated for impact throughout 2017/18.

Looking ahead, the big challenge is overcoming regional variability. This will take co-ordination across the Programme and greater involvement from the wide range of partners with expertise for particular groups of young people. Importantly, this will also require a greater commitment to consideration of the needs of targeted groups as part of the expanding employer engagement in schools.


Target Most recent update of figures
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 5% increase in each of 10 priority superclasses (and/or 10% average share) 3-12% range, 7% average, 2015/16

In 2016-17 a range of activity has been carried out in Colleges to advance equalities. Institutional Gender Action Plans ( GAPs) have been submitted by all of Scotland’s College Regions as well as from across the university sector. To facilitate this, the SFC published a briefing earlier this year to support institutions in thinking about how they develop their gender action plans. Institutions were asked to consider:

  • Which subjects have an imbalance of men or women of more than 75% one gender amongst students;
  • Actions across the five themes of Infrastructure; Influencing the Influencers; Raising awareness and aspiration; Encouraging applications; and Supporting Success;
  • Address how they are working with partners, both regional (e.g. schools and other FE/ HE institutions) and national (e.g. equality specialists);
  • Who is responsible for implementing the actions within the GAP;
  • How the institution will seek to build capacity across the institution to implement the GAP: and
  • How progress will be monitored.

On 4 December, the Scottish Funding Council Board considered these as part of its Annual progress report. The outcomes from which are published and available at:

Looking ahead, and considering the early stage of this work, the challenge will be identifying how these actions will have a sustained impact.


Target Most recent update of figures
KPI 7: To reduce to 60% the percentage of MA frameworks where the gender balance is 75:25 or worse by 2021 60% by 2020/21 70% (2016/17)
KPI 9: Increase the number of minority ethnic MA starts to equal the population share by 2021 The target will change year on year as the population share figure is updated 4.1% in 2016/17 1.7% (2016/17)

Progress 16-17

  • Within 2016/17 MA figures, 40% of overall MA starts were female, 0.9 percentage points lower than in 15/16;
  • There continues to be an increase in the proportion of female starts to level 3 + each year since 2014/15. This has contributed to a narrowing of the gap in the proportion of male and female starts in higher level frameworks;
  • 8.6% of MA starts reported having impairment, health condition or learning difficulty in 2016/17. This is considerably higher than those who reported as disabled in 2015/16 (3.9%). The increase is most likely due to improvements in the way that SDS collects data. The 2016/17 figure should be interpreted as a more accurate indicator of the current position but care should be taken when making comparisons over time; and
  • 1.7% of MA starts reported being from a minority ethnic group, slightly higher than in 2015/16 (1.6%).

In 2016-17 SDS published its Equality Action Plan ( EAP) Year 1 update on Tuesday 18 July 2017. The update can be viewed at

The report highlights work done in schools to help young people build the career management skills needed to succeed in today’s world of work and to make informed choices based on Career Management Intelligence. This has been done through providing a new service in schools that offers Careers Information Advice and Guidance ( CIAG) support from an earlier stage (from S1 onwards). The offer helps to challenge stereotypes and preconceptions at an early age. SDS are also supporting school-based partners through specialist, equality input in the Improving Gender Balance Scotland ( IGBS) project.


Target Most recent update of figures
KPI 10: Increase the employment rate for disabled young people to the population average by 2021 The target will change year on year as the youth employment rate changes. 56.1% (Jan-Dec 2016) 35.6% (Jan-Dec 2016)

Through the establishment of the employer led DYW Groups work is underway to ensure that all employers across Scotland are aware of the support available to help them in recruiting disabled young people. In addition, Scotland’s Employer Recruitment Incentive ( SERI) continues to provide employers with up to £4000 to recruit disadvantaged young people, including those with disabilities or experience of care and has seen more than 1,600 employers supported by the incentive.

The on-going challenge will be achieving the right balance of support for those in school alongside the meeting the needs of those actively seeking employment.

Next Steps

During 2017 – 2018, we will see:

  • Delivery of mentoring support for young people in care as part of the Investors in Young People accolade; and
  • Introduction of supported work experience programme for young disabled people.

During 2018 – 2019, we will 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 will see:

  • Achievement of Modern Apprenticeship volume target and diversity targets.

During 2020 – 2021, we will 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.


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