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.

Section 4: Employers

Their Investment in the Young Workforce

Employers are in a unique position to help give young people the inspiration, knowledge, skills, and motivation they need to transition successfully from education to the workplace.
Education Working for All!


The Commission's report made a number of challenges to industry in terms of its role in developing the young workforce. In their initial response to the report itself and through their emergence in the leadership of this programme, employers have demonstrated a commitment to develop a much more active approach to help build structures through which they can shape and provide opportunities for the development of the young workforce.

We have already launched the Invest in Young People accolade and are delighted that employers large and small are working towards the accolade. Rob Woodward, Chief Executive of STV, has agreed to chair the industry focussed National Invest in Young People Group which will guide the formation and development of Regional Invest in Young People Groups. These will work to create a bridge between employers and education, providing a resource for teachers and practitioners, and encourage and support employers to recruit and train young people.

Employers are central to preparing our young people for the world of work and helping them move successfully into the workforce. By creating mechanisms through which employers can more easily influence the education system, play an active part in its delivery and remove some of the real barriers to employing young people, we aim to transform the prospects of our young people and ultimately enhance Scotland's economic performance.

The Scottish Government will work with industry and other partners to ensure that we engage with employers on a systematic basis, taking account of the contribution that different types of employers can make. We will seek to engage with existing industry led groups and establish new industry led groups in those parts of the country where they do not currently exist. We will work with public sector employers to ensure that they make a structured contribution to the development of the young workforce alongside employers from other sectors. We will seek to ensure that larger employers encourage and support their supply chain partners to make a meaningful contribution. And we will publicly acknowledge the positive contribution of all types of employers to the development of our young workforce.

Involving people

Encouraging and supporting the development of active industry leadership will be a central part of the work we will take forward. This has to be focussed on actions which make it easier for employers to make their full contribution to the development of the young workforce. Industry leaders, business representative and trade bodies, the trade union movement and third sector organisations which work directly with industry will all be key partners in our efforts to influence employers of all types to make a direct contribution to the Programme as will our enterprise agencies, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Skills Development Scotland.

The local authority economic development and employability leadership network will play a critical role in our partnership with local government.

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 the education system and from employers themselves. From an employer engagement perspective, over the seven years of this young workforce programme, employers, young people, their parents and carers, teachers and practitioners, those working in colleges and training providers will be able to see the following headline changes.

In year one, we will have established a number of industry led Regional Invest in Young People Groups, providing a central resource for employers, schools and colleges in their region. The Invest in Young People accolade will be in place.

In year two, through the establishment of industry led Regional Invest in Young People Groups across the country, employers will begin to inform our approach nationally and locally. Employers will begin to inform education quality assurance processes. Growth companies and inward investors will be encouraged and supported to make a direct contribution to the development of the young workforce.

In year three, schools will have partnerships with employers to inform curriculum planning and delivery and provide work related learning experiences. Public sector employers will be making an enhanced contribution to the development of young people as they make their transition toward and into employment.

In year four, all secondary schools will have partnerships with employers to inform curriculum planning and delivery and provide work related learning experiences.

In year five, employers will inform the work related courses available in all colleges across Scotland.

In year six, regional curriculum planning between colleges and local authorities will be informed by schools and employers. Modern Apprenticeships will feature integrally in plans.

In year seven, the system will be tested and its impact established. We will see evidence of increased employer satisfaction, more young people completing vocational qualifications, more achieving at a higher level, more young people progressing to college, training and onto higher education all of which will contribute to significantly increased levels of sustained employment among young people.

Key themes and milestones for employer engagement

Achieving our ambitions for the young workforce requires a focus on the following themes in relation to employer engagement:

  • Enhanced industry leadership and engagement
  • Stronger partnerships between employers and education
  • Recruitment of young people at the heart of workforce planning across the private, public and third sectors.

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

During 2014-15, we will see or are already seeing:

  • Industry led National Invest in Young People Group to oversee the establishment of Regional Invest in Young People Groups in place and joint Local Government and Scottish Government working group established;
  • Establishment of first tranche of Regional Invest in Young People Groups;
  • The Investors in Young People ( IIYP) accolade launched;
  • Education Scotland establishes external reference group in partnership with industry to inform the development of approaches to inspection and review across education sectors (schools, colleges, and other settings);
  • Commitments to develop the young workforce agreed with public sector employers.

During 2015-16, we will see:

  • Industry led Regional Invest in Young People Groups established across Scotland;
  • New services provided to growth companies by the enterprise bodies;
  • Introduction of Regional Selective Assistance ( RSA) conditionality where appropriate;
  • A revised approach to the Scottish Government's recruitment incentives established with local authorities and other partners;
  • Regional industry led groups established across Scotland;
  • Supported employment opportunities in the third sector provided for care leavers and other groups of young people who face significant barriers to employment;
  • Lead body identified to support recruitment of young disabled people;
  • Good practice in public and private sector procurement in relationship to the development of the young workforce identified and promoted;
  • Development of options for introduction of voluntary levies in sectors experiencing skills shortages;
  • Integration of the activity of Regional Invest in Young People Groups and that of Investors in People Scotland in the promotion of the Investors in Young People accolade;
  • Education Scotland capacity building activities and approaches to external evaluation are more informed by the needs of employers;
  • Education Scotland curriculum, learning and assessment groups will include industry representation;
  • Guidance on school-industry partnerships established with input from local authorities and the National Invest in Young People Group.

During 2016-17, we will see:

  • Resources available to support school leaders in promoting career pathway planning with opportunities for emerging school leaders to engage directly with industry;
  • Regional Skills Assessments updated;
  • New work experience model for young disabled people introduced and improved approach to careers services for young disabled people implemented.

During 2017-18, we will see

  • School-industry partnerships operating in most secondary schools;
  • Introduction of supported work experience programme for young disabled people;
  • Skills Investment Plans refreshed taking account of senior phase vocational pathways.

During 2018-19, 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.

Education Working for All! Recommendations

This activity delivers recommendations 11, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 36, 39 .


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


Email: Josh McCormack

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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