Education working for all: developing Scotland's young workforce

Final report from the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce, with 39 recommendations for enhancing vocational education.

Involvement Of Employers

Employers have lost the habit of employing young people. Only 29 per cent of businesses in Scotland recruit young people directly from education, only 30% of Scottish businesses have any meaningful contact with schools, only 27 per cent offer work experience placements and only 13% take on apprentices.

We currently have 53,000 young people unemployed and a youth unemployment rate more than double the adult rate. The priority is to encourage more companies to employ young people in their workforce and to engage with schools and colleges to ensure that young people are developing the skills, knowledge and attitude that they need.

The ambition is for more employers to move from being passive to active consumers of education, with both education and industry allocating more resource to work together to educate and prepare young people for entry into the workforce. Throughout our discussions with employers there has been strong support to become engaged and do more - their main barrier is how to navigate through the education system successfully. Employers from public, private and third sectors, social enterprises and the university and college sectors all have a role to play. Those that understand the need to train and develop their workforce of the future and recognise they have employment and skills gaps would be the priority targets for early engagement.

We are recommending the creation of employer led Regional Invest in Youth Groups (see Recommendation 14 below) that will build bridges between industry and education, play a pivotal role in transforming the approach to education and industry collaboration, and encourage companies to get back into the habit of employing young people. Supported by a national leadership group and a sustained communication campaign, the Invest in Youth groups should be resourced to facilitate and support business and education to form meaningful partnerships and be able to demonstrate meaningful impact.

We believe a Scotland wide Invest in Youth approach will be enhanced with an Invest in Youth accolade awarded to companies which have a clear Invest in Youth policy and are actively engaged in education-business partnerships, and recruit and train young people.

Benefits to Employers

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.

There are clear benefits to employers from engaging with young people at school and college. It helps raise their business and client profile and provides them with early access to (and opportunity to assess) a pipeline of future talent. This means recruitment becomes easier and is more time and cost effective. Employers are also getting access to the innovation and creativity of youth.

Publicly recognised involvement with education will also enhance an employer's reputation in the eyes of the community and customers, and improve engagement with their current staff, particularly those who are parents. Participation in school and college partnerships will provide existing employees with new development opportunities resulting in increased motivation and staff retention.

Benefits mentioned by employers from their links with education and employing more young people include;

  • The opportunity to influence the discussion on matching the development of skills to the needs of their company;
  • Improving workforce diversity, flow and staff retention;
  • Helping to "future-proof" their business - bring in new ideas and new skills;
  • Influencing schools to understand and embrace the world of work to produce better recruits and help employers understand what young people can offer;
  • Opportunities to identify future recruits;
  • Bringing adaptable and flexible young people into the workforce; and
  • Greater cost-effectiveness due to lower recruitment costs and wages.

ACE Winches

ACE Winches is a global leader in the design, manufacture and hire of winches, marine deck machinery and the provision of associated hire personnel for the offshore oil and gas, marine and renewable energy sectors. Based in Turriff, the company has grown its workforce from 80 to 400 since 2008. Within that, 20 per cent of the workforce is in training including 60 Modern Apprentices and 15 graduate engineers.

The company's motivation for its investment in training young recruits is strongly linked to its business growth and development. With an aging workforce in the sector and the search for qualified and experienced professionals hindering companies worldwide, developing and investing in a pipeline of talent coming into the company is a business imperative.

ACE Winches starts that process through direct engagement with primary schools where they support engineering challenges and organise site visits for pupils. In partnership with 17 secondary schools they offer work experience, Saturday jobs and CV and interviewing and coaching sessions as well as contributing to the curriculum, again through engineering challenges as well as marketing projects. The company also offers work placements for college and university students.

Beyond its own employment of Modern Apprentices, the company also makes the recruitment of Modern Apprentices a feature of its approach to procurement. For example, when building its new Towie Barclay Works campus, ACE Winches actively sourced contractors employing apprentices.

There is definite evidence that employees like working in companies with young people and are happy to be active in the creation of opportunities for young people and in their training. In the workplaces where they are active, Trade Unions, with their union learning representatives, can play a particularly helpful role in this.

Creative & Digital Media Modern Apprenticeships

The National Union of Journalists led the creation of a new Digital Journalism pathway within the Creative & Digital Media Modern Apprenticeship Framework.

Through consultation directly with employers to ascertain their skills needs, the NUJ identified that the Modern Apprenticeship programme would be the ideal way for employers to bring new workers into the industry and to ensure that they have the skills and training required for the job. The NUJ worked with SDS, the SQA and Creative Skillset to have digital journalism included as a new pathway in the Framework.

Due to the NUJ's experience in organising and delivering media skills based learning, it has a strong understanding of the needs of employers and, subsequently, the skills requirements of employees. If not for the leadership of the NUJ, this new pathway would not exist.

The first intake of Modern Apprentices in digital journalism commences at Forth Valley College in Stirling in June 2014, with apprentices attending college on a day release basis. Forth Valley College, the learning provider, also proposes to commence a second intake of apprentices in January 2015. The apprentices will come from a variety of Scottish media employers. On completion, the apprentice will achieve a Diploma in Creative and Digital Media ( SCQF level 7).

Benefits to Education and Young People

The benefits of engagement with industry across all study phases include access to up to date information about job and career opportunities in local industries, help in developing industry relevant curriculum content and access to additional resources - company employees, project materials, company visits and work placements. These will help young people understand the relevance of their studies and give them increased confidence in their career choices with increased motivation and improved attainment.

Schools and colleges engaging with employers will also enhance their education offering, with young people able to develop new and relevant skills, gain quality workplace experience, access to a wider network of potential employers and provide much better knowledge, understanding and insight into careers and career paths and the world of work. This will provide a smoother transition from education into sustained employment. Employers are also of course in a good position to support enterprise and entrepreneurship education, which will be an increasingly important option for many young people.

Working with employers also provides schools and colleges with the opportunity to access support to develop their own staff.

Employer Engagement With Schools And Colleges

Employers say they are willing to become more involved with education, but many profess they do not know how, see it as too complex, get frustrated and in the end remain inactive. Thus, while employers are the key potential beneficiaries of a successful education system, most do not see a clear role for themselves in developing and delivering what is their most important resource.

This is not the case with vocational education and youth employment in the most successful European countries. Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, among others, have a culture of deep industry engagement with education, which is underpinned by a business led support infrastructure to support and organise that engagement.

We need to encourage those exemplar employers and industry leaders already active and engaged with schools and colleges and in recruiting, employing and training young people in their business, to inspire their peers and to challenge others to engage and stimulate demand for young people and support the implementation of our recommendations.

Regional Invest in Youth Groups

Recommendation 14: The Scottish Government should support the creation of regional industry-led Invest in Youth groups across Scotland to provide leadership and a single point of contact and support to facilitate engagement between employers and education.

Scotland has a diverse labour market with significantly different supply and demand trends across different regions. For example, what works in the predominantly rural regions wouldn't work in the big cities, while regions like Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire experience very different labour market conditions with a very buoyant oil and gas sector.

Our recommendation is that Regional Invest in Youth groups should be identified, or where necessary set up across Scotland, led by the private sector working with employers, Local Authority Directors of Education and the principal education and economic development interests in the region. The Regional Groups will lead and drive the change in employer's engagement with schools and colleges and challenge and support employers to recruit more young people into their workforce.

The Regional Invest In Youth Groups would be expected to focus on the following as a minimum:

  • Promote and facilitate the formation of long term partnerships between individual schools, colleges and employers, providing supporting proforma documentation for the creation of the partnerships;
  • Facilitate employers' input to activity such as career advice, enterprise education and job search skills in schools;
  • Enhance and improve the provision of careers information through knowledge sharing and co-ordination of industry placements for teachers and career professionals;
  • Co-ordinate employer participation in the design and delivery of accredited good quality work experience and work placement for young people;
  • Support SMEs to build capacity to recruit and train young people;
  • Promote local campaigns to encourage companies to have an Invest in Youth Policy and to employ more young people;
  • Present the business case benefits of employing young people to employers in the region and support plans to increase the recruitment of Modern Apprentices;
  • Encourage large businesses to work with their supply chain to promote employment of more young people;
  • Promote the Investors in Youth accolade to recognise significant engagement by employers in developing a youth strategy, engaging with schools and colleges and employing more young people. Support the introduction of an equivalent award to be developed for schools and colleges;
  • Appoint IIY Ambassadors - individuals from within the regional community that currently are leading best practice and will provide peer support to employers and schools; and
  • Raise awareness of equalities issues in the training and recruitment of young people.

Each group should draw its board members from the region's employer and education communities and support from national organisations including SDS, the enterprise agencies, DWP [23] , Trade Unions and Trade Associations.

A small multi-skilled executive team will carry out day to day activity. This could include secondees from the public and private sectors who will work with and be led by a small team of specialists appointed by the Regional Invest In Youth Group. Colleges, HR professionals and training providers, already experienced in bringing employers into the education and training system, could also make a significant contribution. On the education side, key individuals should be identified to work with the Regional Groups as outlined in recommendation 2.

The Regional Groups should not seek to replicate or duplicate local strengths and should make full use of available relevant services.

The Groups should be provided with an operating framework that would outline steps to establish the group, the remit of the group, composition, organisational structure, governance and accountability.

Government funding should be awarded to set the groups up and pay for the core executive team. It would seem reasonable to provide funding initially for three years by which time it is hoped the foundations would be in place in the business and education communities to achieve long-term self-sustaining engagement. This should be a clearly defined objective for each Group at the outset. Government can judge long term sustainability at the time. It may also be possible to draw in European funding to support the groups.

The formation of each group should be specific to the region and ideally should be a group currently established and involved in related activity. The regions must be identified pragmatically taking account of local authority areas, college regions and already existing Regional Groups who have strong potential to deliver the services. We envisage 15-20 groups across Scotland

A small national leadership group should be formed to work with the chairs of the Regional Groups, and oversee the implementation of this recommendation. With a small executive it should set the national framework and guidelines for the Invest in Youth Regional Groups and for the industry partnerships with schools and colleges. It should meet regularly with the chairs of the Regional Groups to co-ordinate activity, ensure consistency and share best practice.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce/Glasgow Youth Employment Advisory Group

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce facilitated the establishment of the Glasgow Youth Employment Advisory Group in 2013. The group comprising 15 of the biggest employers in the region published a report early in 2014 which contained 15 recommendations aimed at transforming the current picture in which too few young people get work and too often employers miss out on an important source of employees.

Among the recommendations of the group is the joint development between Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce of a framework for business involvement in schools. Before the group had concluded its wider discussions work began on identifying at least one business sponsor for each of the secondary schools in the city.

There is also significant common ground between the Group's other recommendations and a number of those of the Commission.

Business and Industry Partnerships with Schools

Recommendation 15: Businesses across Scotland should be encouraged and supported to enter into 3-5 year partnerships with secondary schools. Every secondary school in Scotland and its feeder primaries should be supported by at least one business in a long-term partnership.

It is important to recognise that a one-size fits all approach won't work for all schools and all employers. To be successful, we believe this has to be a committed, long term in depth partnership involving a lead employer, possibly with other employers engaging to provide opportunities and resources to widen the range of support available.

Typically, the lead partner would commit to working with a secondary school and its feeder primary schools over a 3-5 year period. The objectives of all partners from the relationship should be agreed at the outset with activities and targets agreed through the development of a joint business plan. The proposed Regional Invest In Youth Groups should support with the provision of proforma objectives, possible list of activities and targets and an outline business plan.

The range of inputs from the employer side might include support to pupils on subject choice, mentoring, support for lessons on the world of work and enterprise, teaching materials and other equipment, work experience opportunities, visits by young employees to schools to share their experience, company visits for pupils to partner companies and their supply chain, and similar opportunities for teachers to experience industry.

On the school side, the inputs might include communication in the local community of the partner employer's contribution to the school, liaison with feeder primary schools, considerate timetabling to enable employers to make a meaningful contribution and development opportunities for employers' staff.

In our Interim Report, we recommended that all secondary schools should have a nominated senior staff member to lead engagement with employers. This needs to be matched by an identified resource on the employer side to develop and deliver these relationships.

National guidance should be available to the Regional IIY Group to assist with the formation of school-business partnerships. This should be developed jointly by; Education Scotland, employer bodies and members of the Regional Groups. Directors of Education will have an important co-ordinating role on the school side.

It will be important throughout the development and implementation of partnerships that parents, pupils and participating companies' employees are provided the opportunity to participate and contribute.

It is strongly recommended that Education Scotland appraise the school performance on business relationships and quality of work experience as well as the quality of careers advice.

Craigroyston Community High

Craigroyston Community High School in Edinburgh is in partnership with a number of employers in the city including Lothian Transport and Selex. Core activity includes offering work experience opportunities, pupil projects and mentoring support. Partner employers also form a key group within the school's curriculum planning and development activity.

Beyond this, employers provide school staff with an insight into the city's labour market demands and the needs and expectations of modern day employers. All significant changes to the curriculum are referred to the employer group for consideration and advice. The school is working to develop its senior phase with vocational options to better prepare pupils for moving into work. Partner employers will play an important role in this work.

Recommendation 16: Scotland's leading industry sector groups and companies should be encouraged to work with the Scottish College for Educational Leadership [24] to develop a programme to provide emerging school staff leaders with a wide ranging understanding of industry and careers.

Within recommendation 2 we have called for programmes specifically to support a greater understanding of industry and careers for emerging school leaders. A number of our leading companies would be well placed to make a significant contribution in this area in partnership with the new Scottish College for Educational Leadership.

This would involve an emerging leader from a school within each local authority area engaging in a range of activities to enhance their understanding of industry within a wider programme of school leadership development activity.

Business and Industry Partnerships with Colleges

Recommendation 17: Employers and national industry sector groups should form partnerships with regional colleges to ensure course content is industry relevant and full advantage is taken of work based learning and employment opportunities.

A number of colleges have excellent existing relationships with businesses in their community, and the launch of the new regional colleges provides further opportunity to expand and develop these links and support the sharing of best practice. Key elements of industry's strategic collaboration with colleges going forward include:

  • Committed long term relationships to develop a clear understanding of employers' needs and ongoing alignment of the curriculum;
  • College leadership equipped with the skills to succeed in strategic partnerships with employers; and
  • Employers prepared to develop a relationship with colleges based on the development of their future workforce.

Employers should be encouraged to contribute to the college curriculum development, provide access to industry standard equipment, industry relevant case studies and projects, student work placements and secondment opportunities to support college staff's CPD. In some colleges this is already part of the culture, with business involvement woven into the fabric, and employers regularly on the campus helping shape the curriculum, providing work experience and indeed recruiting from the student body. This needs to become the norm.

In supporting skills for the Scottish economy, colleges should also work together in appropriate partnerships across regional boundaries to support industry sectors. Coordination of services and collaboration, as exemplified in the Energy Skills Partnership, provide an efficient response to industry requirements.Different sectors will require different types of services from colleges but the principles of national coordination, efficient use of resources and planned investment should apply for all.

The Regional Invest in Youth groups should support and enhance these initiatives and encourage their development more widely. They should ensure regional labour market trend information is available to inform college provision and to contribute to the regional college outcome agreement process.

New College Lanarkshire Knowledge Transfer Hub

The New College Lanarkshire Knowledge Transfer Hub has been established for over three years and has over 300 employers involved from large organisations to micro businesses. The Knowledge Transfer Hub offers the college an opportunity to engage directly with a wide range of businesses drawn from across the areas it operates in. The Hub's activities are co-ordinated by a dedicated business development team.

Benefits for the college and businesses include employer input to college planning and curriculum; student placement opportunities; employment opportunities for students; recruitment opportunities for employers; accredited training for employers' existing staff; placements for college staff; assistance with projects ranging from marketing to cutting edge innovation via knowledge transfer projects; sharing of good practice and problems with other members of the network; and seminars, networking events and presentations from guest speakers.

Ayrshire College Wind Turbine Technician Diploma Programme

The Wind Turbine Technician Diploma programme in Ayr has been developed in response to the growth of the wind turbine sector in Ayrshire. Under this context, Ayrshire College, in conjunction with local employers, City & Guilds, Dumfries and Galloway College and Fife College created this course to facilitate the training of the future maintenance workforce.

This course has been designed in consultation with major employers' input, adding validity to the course content and its qualifications. It comprises of both a City and Guilds Diploma, covering the theoretical elements of the course, together with a SEMTA Performing Engineering Operations ( PEO) which develops the hand skills required by industry. Subjects covered include hydraulics, pneumatics, and programmable logic. The course offers added value for students, through the undertaking of the Safety Technology and NEBOSH Health & Safety courses, and the three day, First Aid at Work qualification, some of which are mandatory units required for operatives working in this field.

Successful participants on the course are guaranteed two interviews with wind turbine maintenance companies.

Industry Led Skills Planning

Recommendation 18: In the development of future industry Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments, and in the updating of existing plans, there should be a specific focus on youth employment and the development of vocational pathways starting in the senior phase.

The development of Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments, and their use in aligning vocational education and training to the national needs of industry is an issue which we cover in the Education and Training section of this report. While labour market projection is never an exact science, aligning the educational and training opportunities and careers advice with the best available labour market information is of critical importance to the employment prospects of our young people and the potential pool of prospective employees that companies can recruit.

In order to get the maximum advantage out of the vocational pathways we have recommended, it is important that the sectoral Industry Leadership Groups who are responsible for the Skills Investment Plans consider how the opportunity to develop career focused vocational pathways starting in school might impact on talent development for their sectors and increased youth employment.

We therefore recommend an early audit of existing Skills Investment Plans and Regional Skills Assessments to take account of the potential implementation of senior phase vocational pathways and the other improvements to the vocational education and training system we have recommended. For those sectors, which are still in the process of developing their plans, we would recommend that account of the changes we recommend are built in from the outset.

Recruitment Of Young People

Currently only 29 per cent of businesses in Scotland recruit young people directly from education, only 13 per cent of employers employ apprentices and 53,000 young people are unemployed. We believe that greater employer engagement in education and training will better prepare young people with the skills, knowledge and attitude that employers are looking for and thus they will employ more young people. This is clear from the experience of the best performing European countries.

We also expect that young people achieving vocational qualifications at an earlier age, more exposed to the workplace, better informed about the world of work, and clearer on their career goals, will be more attractive to a greater number of employers.

The Regional Invest in Youth Groups will play an important role in promoting the business benefits of employing young people to employers in their region, and encouraging them to recruit young people and increase the number of Modern Apprentices employed. They should have supporting information available to present, highlighting the advantages of employing young people (see our Benefits to Employers section). The Groups would also be encouraged to identify champions who currently have a strong commitment to recruiting and training young people in their own business and who can act as ambassadors and mentors across the employer base.

Our recommendations recognise the individuality of many employers, the importance of providing support to SMEs to recruit and train more young people, the very significant role public sector should play as an exemplar in youth employment and the role that the public and private sectors can play in working with their supply chain.

It is clear that many employers have got out of the habit of recruiting young people and prefer to take on older people with work experience. Our recommendations focus on correcting this.

Recognising Good Practice - Invest in Youth Accolade

Recommendation 19: A nationally defined Invest in Youth Accolade should be developed to recognise industry's engagement in the development and employment of Scotland's young workforce.

Public perception and reputation are important for all businesses and public bodies, particularly with the impact of media, including social media, on brand image. The IIY Accolade will become an important tool in publicly distinguishing and recognising those employers who engage in the development and employment of Scotland's Young Workforce from those who don't.

Every large and medium sized business in Scotland should be expected to develop an Invest in Youth policy and those who do should be publicly recognised. Investors in People Scotland have been developing a youth employment accolade based on good practice among employers. This could provide a good basis for the public recognition proposed in our recommendations.

Employers should be supported to use their engagement with education and youth employment as part of their brand promotion, which is so important in attracting customers and good employees. At the same time, questions should be asked about those who don't engage.

It's important that an award of this nature recognises the challenges of different sizes of business. The largest employers might be expected to make a contribution in the widest possible range of ways including procurement and activity to support diversity. The majority of employers operating on a smaller but still reasonable scale might be in a position, with some support, to employ more Modern Apprentices and young people generally, as well as making some contribution to education. The majority of micro businesses might make a more limited but still valuable contribution.

Thus it might be appropriate to have a Gold, Silver and a Bronze entry for the Invest in Youth award with the potential to graduate from one level to the next. The awards will reflect different levels of input while allowing all employers who make a contribution to have their involvement recognised.

Over the medium to longer term, we would look to the majority of employers to achieve the Bronze entry level as a minimum. Public sector employers are in a strong position across the country to lead by example and would generally be expected to achieve the Gold level.

Additional Support for Businesses Recruiting and Training Modern Apprentices

Recommendation 20: A small business Modern Apprenticeship recruitment incentive package should be developed to equip and support smaller and micro businesses to recruit and train more young people.

A package of support should be offered to small businesses [25] to encourage and equip them to recruit young Modern Apprentices into their workforce. This should include:

  • Training for a key member of their staff on the induction and training of a young Modern Apprentice;
  • Additional support from the partner training provider to support the Modern Apprentice, tailored to the needs of the business; and
  • A clear and simple recruitment incentive to reduce the cost of employing the apprentice. For example, SMEs are currently eligible for the equivalent of the first 6 months wage costs for an apprentice - this could be extended to one year for small businesses.

We believe this package, consistently offered to small businesses across the country, would encourage more of them to take on a Modern Apprentice, in some cases for the first time. The development of Foundation Apprenticeships in the senior phase for some occupations and the UK Government's recently announced abolition of National Insurance for those aged under 21, should significantly reduce the costs of recruiting a young person for small businesses.

Training providers and colleges, who deliver the MA programme, should be incentivised to help small businesses to recruit apprentices and provide additional support throughout the apprenticeship period. This could include a centralised telemarketing approach to promote the package to small businesses and identify those interested in recruiting Modern Apprentices.

We recommend that SDS consider these and other measures to increase small businesses' recruitment of Modern Apprentices in partnership with training providers and colleges.

More generally the Regional Groups, colleges, local authorities, Business Gateway [26] and the Enterprise Agencies should work to support small businesses to recruit and train young people beyond the Modern Apprenticeship programme.

Recommendation 21: Voluntary levy schemes to recruit and train young people in skills shortage areas should be encouraged. Groups of employers should be supported to work in collaboration, with the Scottish Government providing co-funding.

In parts of the economy, at sectoral or geographic levels or both, there is often market failure, which leads to skills gaps and shortages that cannot be fully addressed by increasing wages or recruiting from outside Scotland. The only answer in such situations is to train and recruit new entrants.

In some cases this has prompted employers to come together to fund training and employment of young people through a combination of private and public investment.

A long established example of this is in construction where a mandatory training levy is in place. This achieves consistent, ongoing investment in training young entrants to the sector, even in times of severe constraint such as has been experienced across construction in recent years.

There are other non-mandatory examples, where, faced with growing customer demand and an aging workforce, businesses have pooled their resources to initiate programmes to recruit and train young people. An example of this has been in the textile industry.

This type of approach could be extended further through the development of joint public/private investment models run along similar lines to the UKCES Employer Ownership of Skills pilot, where groups of employers would be invited to develop proposals to address the challenges they face. In many cases, trade union involvement in the development of proposals would be an important element of employee engagement in such activity.

Incentivising and Supporting More Employers to Recruit More Young People

Recommendation 22: Procurement and supply chain policies in both the public and private sectors should be applied to encourage more employers to support the development of Scotland's young workforce.

Community benefit clauses, often relating to youth employment, have become a mainstream element of public sector procurement in Scotland. Those bidding for public contracts are required to deliver measureable benefits such as the recruitment of Modern Apprentices. This approach has been enhanced by the recently published Sustainable Procurement Action plan.

We recommend that this approach should be extended into private sector procurement. We don't think this needs to be done through legislation but instead we would look to the private sector, as they develop their Invest In Youth policies, to include appropriate encouragement for their supply chain.

As well as using procurement as an incentive, both public and private sector companies should work positively with the supply chain to help them to adopt Invest In Youth policies. This could involve providing HR help in the process of employing young people, particularly Modern Apprentices, and providing, where appropriate, ongoing support. This should be part of their commitment to the national Invest In Youth programme.

Recommendation 23: Public sector employers should be encouraged by the Scottish Government and local authorities to be exemplars in a national Invest In Youth Policy and this should be explicitly reflected in their published corporate plans.

In many parts of Scotland, public bodies are among the largest employers and can offer a wide-ranging contribution to education and youth employment. Their participation would extend beyond public procurement and supply chain policies to ensuring they are exemplars in their own engagement with education and in their training and employment policies.

This needs to be driven by political leaders at all levels of government. Public bodies, including the Scottish Government and local authorities, should be accountable for implementation of their Invest In Youth policy. It's understood that most public bodies are under headcount restrictions, but political leaders should consider relaxing headcount restrictions in the recruitment of young people, particularly Modern Apprentices.

Recommendation 24: Growth businesses and Inward Investment companies in receipt of public funding should be encouraged and supported to employ young people.

Encouraging and supporting growth businesses to recruit young people will be an important step in helping young people to move into careers with good long term employment prospects. Bringing young people into growing businesses would also benefit the firms themselves as they seek to build a dedicated and skilled workforce to support their ambitions for growth.

The enterprise agencies, which have a significant level of engagement with growth companies, are well placed to encourage and support them to recruit young people as their workforces expand. This should include:

  • The enterprise agencies could introduce a new expert help service to assist growing account managed companies develop youth appropriate recruitment, training and HR practices. This would help embed capacity and capability in the business to do this on an ongoing basis.
  • The enterprise agencies could introduce top up financial support to those growth companies with a strategic growth project to include a youth employment dimension.

If this approach doesn't show early positive results the Scottish Government should consider stronger measures in their arrangements with the enterprise agencies.

As a condition of their grant, those in receipt of Regional Selective Assistance grants should, where the circumstances are appropriate, commit to setting targets for youth employment as a percentage of their total workforce. The enterprise agencies should report annually on accepted derogations here. These companies would also be expected to develop an Invest in Youth policy as a condition of their RSA grant.

Business Gateway growth clients should also be encouraged to consider opportunities for youth employment and should be potential targets for the small business Modern Apprenticeship recruitment incentive package outlined in recommendation 20.

Recommendation 25: Financial recruitment incentives should be re-examined and carefully targeted to achieve the most benefit in providing sustainable employment for young people.

Since the start of the recession a wide range of financial incentives have been made available to employers recruiting young people. Essentially these are a contribution to the wages of a new young recruit. The focus should be on maximising ease of access for employers, ensuring equity, and achieving long-term benefits in terms of developing the young person as well as on initial recruitment.

  • Recruitment incentives should be linked to training young people in employment, with a particular focus on encouraging the recruitment of Modern Apprentices.
  • Smaller employers should always be the target group for recruitment incentives.
  • Consideration should be given to extending the timeframe over which a recruitment incentive is available to support the recruitment of young people onto longer Modern Apprenticeship frameworks.
  • Within existing incentive schemes there should be additional funding to mitigate against any higher costs associated with employing young people with disabilities and those with other additional support needs.
  • The Regional Invest in Youth Groups proposed in recommendation 14 should promote recruitment incentives to employers in their region.
  • Local authorities should work together across boundaries to ensure that the benefits of recruitment incentives to young people and employers don't become subject to a postcode lottery.


Email: Fraser Young,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Back to top