Developing the young workforce: Scotland's youth employment strategy

Sets out how the Scottish Government will implement the recommendations from the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce.

Scottish Government and Local Government Implementation Plans

Section 1: Schools

Work Relevant Learning from 3 - 18

The key message we have had from young people on our Interim Report is their need for significantly enhanced quality work experience while at school and college.
Sir Ian Wood, Education Working for All!


The Commission's report takes as its starting point that Curriculum for Excellence, both through the broad general education from aged 3 to the end of S3 and the senior phase from S4 - S6, provide a strong basis for developing young people's skills for learning, life, and - crucially for this agenda - work.

School education through Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland continues to evolve and improve. At the early and primary stages children are developing a wide range of skills. In the senior phase this year saw the first group of young people sit the new National Qualifications and the Government remains committed to raising attainment for all and tackling inequality in educational outcomes. Alongside this, schools' role in developing the young workforce is about ensuring a wide range of work-related learning from the early years onwards with increased high quality vocational pathways in the senior phase. We have made plain our ambitions to raise attainment: on 26 November, the First Minister announced that Education Scotland would put in place an Attainment Advisor for each Local Authority, to reach into every learning community in Scotland to build capacity in our schools.

The scale of the challenge has been set out plainly by the Commission. There are still young people who leave school ill-equipped to progress - whether in the short or longer term - to employment. Our response must be to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to engage in purposeful and directly work related learning while at school, building on the strong examples that already exist across the country. The challenge is to extend that offer to all young people, and to create a climate where young people, their parents, teachers and practitioners value - and demand - a range of routes into good jobs and careers, whether that is through our universities, colleges, apprenticeships or training provision.

A genuine, long-term partnership approach between schools, colleges, training providers, employers, parents and young people themselves is central to the success of this agenda. It is only through a partnership approach we will widen the range of choices available to young people and support them to make the most appropriate choices for their futures.

Employers play a central part in these efforts. Through their understanding of the skills they require, and of future labour market demand, employers can help to shape the workforce of the future by helping to develop and deliver young people's experiences of the world of work while at school, for example, in offering high quality work experience and in inputting to careers guidance. But employers have a role to play throughout education from the early years onwards. We need to increase the opportunities for employers to contribute to the broad general education phase - the period of education from pre-school to the end of S3. Employers and schools need to develop strong two way partnerships - partnerships that deliver improvements to teaching and learning and bring real-life context into the classroom, particularly in relation to science, technology, engineering and mathematics ( STEM).

This also requires collective support between national and local government and key national partners (including Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council, Education Scotland, Scottish Qualifications Authority ( SQA) and Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ( SCQF) Partnership amongst others).

We will take forward the implementation of the schools' aspects of our plans as a fully integrated part of the Curriculum for Excellence programme, monitored through the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board and Implementation Group. We will also ensure alignment with - and capitalise upon - the opportunities provided by other key national programmes including Teaching Scotland's Future, Raising Attainment for All and Insight - which are all focussed on improving the outcomes for our children and young people.

Involving people

Young people, parents, carers, teachers and practitioners, careers professionals and employers are all key to this effort, and success will depend on ensuring that they are central to what is offered, and how it is delivered and promoted.

Work has already started nationally to raise awareness of the opportunities provided by the Developing the Young Workforce Programme .

Engagement with young people in shaping and delivering outcomes will run throughout the life of the programme. This work has already begun and builds on the feedback young people gave to the Commission.

Developing the Young Workforce was a key area of focus for participants at the Scottish Learning Festival in September this year with members of the Commission leading a seminar for some 250 teachers and practitioners. Since then, activity has been focused on raising awareness of the issues and challenges with school and local authority leaders.

Members of the Commission also met with parents at the National Parent Forum of Scotland conference in October to present and discuss the report's findings and recommendations. Discussions on how best to inform and involve parents are taking place. The expertise and knowledge of cross-authority groups with a track record of involvement in schools such as the Scottish Councils Enterprise in Education Network ( SCEEN) and the World of Work network are informing our implementation plans.

Working relationships between national bodies such as Skills Development Scotland, Education Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and local authorities are being strengthened to support the effective delivery of outcomes.

What will be different by 2021?

As this plan's introduction sets out, developing the young workforce in Scotland requires a long term effort across many parts of the education and skills systems and by employers. From a schools' perspective, over the seven years of this young workforce programme, young people, their parents, teachers and practitioners, local authorities, those working in colleges, training providers and employers will be able to see the following headline changes:

In year one [10] , opportunities to learn more about developing the young workforce ( DYW), explain what it means from early years through to the end of secondary education and look at what is already happening in practice. Testing out new approaches via the Scottish Funding Council's 'early adopter' activity [11] on school/ college partnerships and on Skills Development Scotland's foundation apprenticeship pathfinders. Initial communication and engagement with young people and parents on the range of routes into employment which are open to young people at school and college.

In year two, more opportunities in place for young people to undertake learning which connects more directly to employment, for example, through school/college partnerships. We will evaluate early activity through foundation apprenticeship pathfinder activity and consider how successful programmes can be expanded further. Engagement with learners, teachers and practitioners to change perceptions of the value of work related learning and qualifications.

In year three, more schools will be delivering a broader range of qualifications for young people from S4 - S6 in partnership with colleges and other providers. Schools will have more partnerships with employers to inform curriculum design and delivery and provide work related learning experiences. With the support of careers professionals, teachers and other practitioners, young people and parents will be more informed about routes into work, careers planning and employment opportunities.

In year four, school and college staff and other practitioners across Scotland will be supported to have a greater understanding of the world of work and routes into work to improve young people's learning. More schools will offer a fuller range of vocational qualifications, in partnership with colleges and other training providers. Pilot activity around foundation apprenticeships will continue to be evaluated with successful activity rolled out. All schools will have employers fully involved in informing curriculum planning and delivery and providing work related learning experiences.

In years five and six, as the programme matures and the new provision becomes established, visible and valued, there will be an expansion of year four activity to cover the majority of secondary schools and other learning settings in Scotland.

In year seven, there will be evidence of increased employer satisfaction, more young people completing vocational qualifications, more achieving qualifications at a higher level, more young people in all secondary schools in Scotland progressing to college, training, university and employment.

Key themes and milestones for schools

Achieving our ambitions for the young workforce requires a focus on the following themes by local authorities, schools and their delivery partners:

  • Expanding the offer - increasing the routes from school into employment, or further 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
  • Consolidating partnership working with colleges and other training providers

The milestones set out below detail what this will involve over the lifetime of the programme.

During 2014-2015, we will see or are already seeing:

  • The aims of the Developing the Young Workforce ( DYW) programme embedded within the Curriculum for Excellence Implementation Plan and monitored through the Curriculum for Excellence Management Board and Implementation Group;
  • Communications and engagement work undertaken to develop understanding of routes into work amongst parents, teachers and practitioners, and young people;
  • An initial evaluation of the starting point in terms of what secondary schools are already offering by way of vocational qualifications established;
  • Appropriate measures of success for schools in relation to the DYW programme developed;
  • 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.
  • Education Scotland integrating DYW in inspection advice to schools;
  • Scottish Funding Council early adopter activity on school/college partnerships undertaken in 7 college regions;
  • Foundation apprenticeship engineering pathfinder projects undertaken in Fife and West Lothian.

During 2015-16, we will see:

  • An increase in uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase;
  • An increase in the quality and number of strategic partnerships between local authorities, schools, and colleges, to widen the offer to young people in the senior phase;
  • DYW programme reflected in college outcome agreements and curriculum planning;
  • DYW programme reflected in local authority strategic plans;
  • Mechanism to influence community plans is established;
  • Guidance and support developed by Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland for teachers and practitioners to support young people in S3 to learn about finding, applying and getting a job;
  • Relaunch My World of Work website with a greater learner focus linked to career pathways;
  • Guidance and support developed by Education Scotland and Skills Development Scotland for teachers and practitioners on the world of work aimed at ages 3-18;
  • A new standard for work experience in place in schools;
  • Lessons from Scottish Funding Council early adopter activity regions disseminated widely;
  • Scaling up of the foundation apprenticeship pathfinders to other local authorities;
  • Engagement with young people, teachers and practitioners, parents and employers to actively promote the range of options available;
  • Expansion of wide range of qualifications included in Insight tool;
  • A quality assurance review for the careers service as part of a continuous improvement regime is in place
  • Agreed standard for careers guidance for all young people including those who require additional help and support is in place;
  • Education Scotland publish an aspect review of My World of World;
  • The establishment of Regional Invest in Young People Groups working in partnership with local authority education teams across Scotland.

During 2016-17, we will see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase;
  • Evaluation of the initial foundation apprenticeship pathfinders completed and evidence used to inform the development of an agreed model;
  • Employability and enterprise professional standards in development;
  • Education Scotland further develops its capacity to evaluate in relation to employability and employment;
  • A new focus on work experience and the quality of careers guidance as part of secondary school inspection programme.

During 2017-18, we will see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase;
  • Further expansion of foundation apprenticeship across Scotland and covering other sectors;
  • Delivery of mentoring support for young people in care as part of the Invest in Young People accolade [12] .

During 2018-19, we will see:

  • An increase in the uptake of vocational qualifications available to those in the senior phase;
  • Pilot activity on foundation and advanced apprenticeships and equalities being rolled out across the country;
  • All secondary schools will have active partnerships with regional colleges.

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;
  • 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.

Education Working for All! Recommendations

This activity delivers recommendations 1, 2, 3, 16, 26, 27, 28, 33, 37.


KPI 1 - Be one of the top five performing countries in the EU for youth unemployment by reducing the relative ratio of youth unemployment to 25-64 unemployment to the level of the fifth best country in the EU by 2021.

KPI 2 - Be one of the top five performing countries in the EU for youth unemployment by reducing the youth unemployment rate to match the fifth best country in the EU by 2021.

KPI 3 - Increase the percentage of school leavers attaining vocational qualifications at SCQF level 5 and above by 2021.

KPI 6 - Increase the percentage of employers recruiting young people directly from education to 35 per cent by 2018.

KPI 10 - Increase the employment rate for young disabled people to the population average by 2021.

KPI 11 - Increase positive destinations for looked after children by 4 percentage points per annum resulting in parity by 2021.


Email: Josh McCormack

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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