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 5: Equality

Developing the Talents of All Our Young People

Diversity in the workplace, reflecting the diversity in our communities, will make a tangible contribution to addressing wider inequality issues in society.
Education Working for All!

Context and ambition

At the heart of our programme is a commitment across Government and our delivery partners to advance the interests of all our young people. By offering young people - from as early as during their primary/nursery school education - a clear picture of all the career choices available to them, we will equip them with the skills and knowledge to make more informed choices throughout their school studies and beyond.

This underlines the Government's commitment to fairness and social solidarity. The First Minister has made clear that this Government will have a relentless focus on improving the public services and economy of Scotland, and tackling inequality.

To achieve sustainable economic growth, we will need to develop the talents of all our young people. The Commission's report sets out the challenge and our response is to see our action not as separate activity but as an approach to advancing equality embedded throughout our response to the report's recommendations.

Throughout the programme is the message, delivered in activity in schools, colleges and by employers, that all careers can be open to our young people. And through a national campaign, we will support parents and carers as they help young people to make choices at key points in their lives about the future. Similarly we will develop guidance to help teachers and practitioners work with young people as they explore the advanced provision on offer to them.

We recognise that this change in hearts and minds - the ability to realise opportunities are available to all - will not happen overnight: we are already working with delivery partners and local government to embed these principles of fairness and equality throughout their services to young people. There are specific actions throughout the programme that will address concerns in the Commission's report, for example, improving gender balance on some Modern Apprentice frameworks. Our success measures - at annex B - demonstrate we are ambitious about tackling this imbalance and have developed targets that encourage systemic change rather than small incremental improvements. We want young people quickly to see more options available to them.

While we are committed to a mainstream change of provision in education and training, we recognise that some groups need extra support and guidance. Throughout the plan, there are instances when specific interventions are needed to drive change, for example, in the plan being developed by the Scottish Funding Council, Skills Development Scotland and others to reduce the gender imbalance in education and training.

Taking an evidence based approach [13] the Commission concluded from an early stage that there are currently barriers which require specific measures to be taken. In particular they concluded that:

  • Gender stereotyping in education exists as does gender segregation in a significant number of the occupations and careers young people pursue;
  • Young people from Scotland's black and minority ethnic communities embark on a narrower range of pathways than young people from the population as a whole and are more likely to experience unemployment;
  • Young disabled people are much more likely to experience difficult transitions through education and to be unemployed after they leave education;
  • And young care leavers as a group experience some of the poorest educational and employment outcomes of any group of young people in society.

Our early action has already supported Skills Development Scotland to undertake further work to address gender segregation and support young disabled people, minority groups and care leavers into training and employment programmes. And we will go further to meet our targets for looked after young people and young disabled people who will be supported to take their place in the world of work.

This means concerted effort across the programme as well as a campaign to ensure no one thinks in terms of a "boy's job" or a "girl's job". We are already using pilot activity and early research to test our approach and ensure, through our programme management reporting, we see progress in line with our interim measures.

That approach will see changes in the demographic in the workplace as well as providing more of our young people with examples of their peers overcoming challenges with our support to take up a place in education, training or employment that is sustainable and allows them to make a full contribution to their community.

In order to achieve our overall purpose of sustainable economic growth, we need to create social and economic justice. This plan contains a coherent set of actions that will help more of our young people take their place in the labour market, find a role in their communities, and ensure that all our young people wake up in the morning, knowing that they are helping to move Scotland forward. We aim to achieve our aims with the powers we have at our disposal. With greater control over our own decision-making, we could achieve more.

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

  • Initial equalities pilot action implemented, creating new opportunities for those from currently underrepresented groups.

During 2015-16, we will see:

  • Scottish Funding Council publishing a plan to reduce gender imbalance on courses in joint action with Skills Development Scotland and other partners;
  • Targeted Modern Apprenticeship campaign activity developed;
  • 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.

During 2016-17, we will see:

  • Secondary school inspection of active gender targeting in relation to college based learning and foundation apprenticeships begins;
  • Scottish Funding Council implementing their plan to reduce gender imbalance on courses which they will report on annually;
  • Individual equality action plans begin to increase participation by under-represented groups;
  • 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:

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

During 2018-19, we will see:

  • Achievement of our target to increase the percentage of employers recruiting young people directly from education to 35%.

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.

Education Working for All! Recommendations

This activity delivers recommendations 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 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 7 - Reduce to 60 per cent the percentage of MA frameworks where the gender balance is 75:25 or worse by 2021.

KPI 8 - Increase by 5 percentage points the minority gender share in each of the 10 largest and most imbalanced superclasses by 2021.

KPI 9 - Increase the number of MA starts from minority ethnic communities to equal the population share by 2021.

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 point 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

Back to top