4. Profile and operation of the Regional Groups
- The consensus amongst Regional Group Board Members was that the governance arrangements for the Regional Groups are working well, with 92% saying that they were effective or very effective.
- The Groups were found to be doing particularly well at creating a single point of contact for employers to engage with education, and for schools / colleges to engage with employers – one of their primary objectives.
- Employers were generally more positive about the effectiveness of the Regional Groups than schools / colleges.
- Most Regional Group Board Members were clear on the strategic objectives of DYW and the National Group, but were less positive about the guidance and flow of information from the National Group.
- The strengths and skills of the executive teams were highlighted as key success factors for the Regional Groups. They were described as being highly driven and essential for bringing pace and momentum to the work of the Groups.
- The funding received by DYW Regional Groups has been used for staffing and other overheads, marketing, campaigns and events and project activity. It has also been used to leverage additional investment from the Chambers themselves, employers, schools and other funding sources.
4.1 This chapter looks at the profile and operation of the four DYW Regional Groups included within the evaluation. It begins with an overview of the structure and governance of the Groups, followed by details of how they liaise with the National Group. The operation of the Groups is then summarised, followed by an overview of their main areas of activity.
Structure and governance
The four Regional Groups included within the evaluation are all Chamber-led and include representatives from both employers and education.
4.2 The four Regional Groups each have a strategic board, which meets quarterly and is chaired by an employer. The size and make-up of the boards vary between areas, but they each include representation from a number of local employers, as well as education representatives, such as local authorities, colleges and Skills Development Scotland. Some also include third sector delivery partners, such as the Princes Trust. They are each hosted by Chambers of Commerce, who provide secretariat support.
4.3 The strategic boards each have sub-committees / working groups that take the lead on decision-making in relation to particular aspects of DYW activity and report back on this to the strategic board. The number of sub-committees ranges across the groups from one to eight. They are accountable to the strategic board, who provide oversight and sign-off on key decisions, as well as challenge and support as appropriate. Examples of the themes and issues covered by these sub-committees include finance, strategy, planning and operations.
The consensus amongst Regional Group Board Members was that the governance arrangements for the Groups were working well.
4.4 More than half (52%) of the Board Members that responded to the survey reported that the governance arrangements for their DYW Regional Group were effective, and a further 40% reported that they were very effective. This suggests that the governance arrangements are working well, but that there is potentially some scope for improvement.
4.5 When probed on this during the regional workshops, one Board Member said that this finding was reflective of their attitude to "always strive for better… I don't know if we'd ever reach a point where we all said 'yes, this is perfect'". Others referenced challenges in the early stages to get the Groups up and running and all of the relevant partners on board.
Figure 4‑1: Overall, how effective do you think the current governance arrangements are for the DYW Regional Group?
Source: SQW survey of Regional Group Board Members
Survey respondents were positive about the effectiveness of the Regional Groups in terms of creating a single point of contact for employers to engage with education and for school / colleges to engage with employers.
4.6 Schools, colleges and employers were asked to rate the effectiveness of their DYW Regional Group across the range of factors listed in Table 4‑1. The findings suggest that the Groups are doing particularly well in terms of creating a single point of contact for employers to engage with education, and for schools / colleges to engage with employers – one of their primary objectives. This was further referenced in the regional workshops and the qualitative responses to the survey.
"The Group has a centralised and high-profile position in relation to both education and business stakeholders" Employer survey respondents
4.7 There was mixed feedback from survey respondents in relation to the other factors listed, although employers were generally more positive about the effectiveness of the Regional Groups than schools / colleges. This was a point of discussion at the regional workshops, with the consensus being that the Groups did have more of an employer focus in the early stages. Being Chamber-led, they were more readily able to engage with employers through existing Chamber networks, whilst the process for engaging schools and colleges took longer. However, the feedback was that the balance was beginning to shift now that the Groups were developing increasingly effective relationships with schools and colleges.
"A key success factor has been having the Chamber as lead. This has ensured that it is truly private sector led. They could hit the ground running in terms of getting employers on board." Regional Group Board Member
4.8 This analysis also points to a potential mismatch between employers and schools / colleges in terms of the extent to which they perceive the other to have changed their practices as a result of engagement with the DYW Regional Groups. Employers were more likely to report that the Group had been effective in changing their practices, and less likely to report that it had been effective in changing the practices of the education sector. The reverse is true for schools / colleges. This suggests that they each perceive themselves as having changed more through engagement with the Group. It could also point to a lack of visibility or understanding of changing practices between the two sectors.
Table 4‑1: Feedback on the effectiveness of the DYW Regional Groups (% saying "effective" or "very effective")
|How would you rate the effectiveness of your DYW Regional Group in relation to:||Schools / Colleges||Employers|
|Creating a single point of contact for employers to engage with education||78%||77%|
|Creating a single point of contact for schools / colleges to engage with employers||82%||76%|
|Co-ordinating employer engagement with education||81%||74%|
|Encouraging more employers to offer work experience placements||58%||62%|
|Improving the quality of work experience placements||33%||58%|
|Encouraging more employers to deliver work inspiration activities||49%||62%|
|Improving the quality of work inspiration activities||49%||61%|
|Encouraging more employers to take on apprentices||35%||54%|
|Encouraging more young people to consider vocational career pathways||55%||65%|
|Encouraging employers to change their practices||21%||50%|
|Encouraging the education sector to change its practices||74%||49%|
Source: SQW surveys of employers and schools / colleges
Base: 231 employers; 70 schools / colleges
Liaison with the National Group
Liaison between the National Group and the Regional Groups is mainly through dedicated "Link Members".
4.9 The Regional Groups each have a dedicated Link Member from the DYW National Group. Their role was described by consultees as being the "first point of contact" for any issues arising at the regional level, as well as a conduit for communicating messages from the National Group. They provide challenge and support to the Regional Groups that they are responsible for if and when required.
4.10 The consensus amongst consultees was the Link Member model was good. However, in practice, there is a lot of variability in how this is being implemented, particularly in relation of the level of engagement and support provided by Link Members. There was one example of where a new Link Member had been appointed and it took seven failed attempts on the part of the Regional Group to secure a meeting with them.
4.11 This variability appears to be based on:
- Need – Link Members step in with challenge and support if and when a particular need has been identified and take a more "hands-off" approach in areas where there are no issues.
- Individuals – some Link Members seem to be more proactive and engaged than others. Similarly, some of the Regional Groups are more open to having oversight and engagement from a member of the National Group than others.
4.12 One consultee noted that DYW National Group members are not paid for their time as it is a volunteer role. The model is therefore dependent on a lot of "good will" on the part of Link Members to give up their time. There was a view that this might be difficult to sustain in the long term in the absence of tangible evidence of impact.
Most Regional Group Board Members were clear on the strategic objectives of DYW and the National Group, but were less positive about the guidance and flow of information from the National Group.
4.13 Regional Group Board Members were asked to provide feedback on the DYW National Group (see Figure 4-2). The findings suggest that Board Members were clear on how the Regional Groups contribute to the wider DYW policy agenda, as well as the strategic objectives of the National Group. They were also generally positive about the lines of communication from the Regional Groups to the National Group.
4.14 However, Board Members were less positive about the level of guidance provided by the National Group on which activities they should be prioritising. They were also less positive about the lines of communication from the National Group to the Regional Group, with less than half (39%) of survey respondents agreeing that these were "good". This was supported by feedback from the consultations and regional workshops.
"We submit our performance reports to the Scottish Government every two months. We don't get any feedback on how we are doing, or an overview of what is happening nationally or within the other Regional Groups." Regional Group Board Member
The findings suggest a general lack of awareness of the Link Member role amongst Regional Group Board Members, with the majority (71%) saying that they did not know if this was working effectively. Again, this was supported by feedback gathered through the consultations and workshops that the role of the Link Member was unclear and that there was high variability between Groups in terms of how this was being implemented.
Figure 4‑2: To what extent do you agree with the following statements relating to the DYW National Group?
Source: SQW survey of Regional Group Board Members
The Regional Groups each have a small executive team, who manage the day-to-day operation of the programme.
4.15 The executive teams within each of the four regions are based within the Chambers. They are typically made up of one Programme Manager / Director and two or three project executives. In one case, two Modern Apprentices have been recruited to the DYW team. In at least two cases, the DYW executive roles are co-funded by the Chamber and individuals in these roles have a broader remit than just DYW activities.
4.16 The executive teams typically have responsibility for:
- Co-ordination – they have a record of which employers are engaging with which schools in the area. They will also have an awareness of other (non-DYW) activities being delivered in this space. They use this information to avoid overlap and duplication, ensuring that DYW is adding value to the existing landscape of provision. A particular concern is to ensure that employers and schools are not over-burdened with multiple approaches and requests.
- Performance monitoring and reporting – this includes managing CRM systems to ensure that all DYW activity is accurately monitored and tracked, preparing and submitting progress reports to the Scottish Government every two months (including reporting on progress towards KPIs) and reporting to the strategic board. Some groups also collect feedback from schools and employers that have engaged in DYW activities and use this to drive improvements.
- Employer and school engagement – project executives take the lead on engaging employers and schools in DYW activity. As each of the groups are Chamber-led, they draw on existing contacts and networks from the employer side. For schools, they use a combination of direct approaches to senior staff (usually headteachers) and going through Directors of Education within Local Authorities.
- Brokering relationships between employers and schools – a key part of the role of the executive team is to match employers to schools. This involves spending time to understand each parties' needs and expectations and matching them accordingly.
- Marketing and promotion – including regular updates on DYW activities in Chamber newsletters and other promotional publications and materials. They also host events through the year and raise awareness of the programme via social media and other PR activities.
The strengths and skills of the executive teams were highlighted as a key success factors for the Regional Groups.
4.17 Several consultees and survey respondents commented on the role of the DYW Executive Teams in driving forward the work of the Regional Groups. They were described as being highly flexible and responsive to the needs of employers, schools and wider stakeholders. The pace at which they operate was referenced by several consultees, with very short timescales from idea formation through to implementation.
"Friendly approachable team that are knowledgeable about the local area and incredibly enthusiastic" Employer Survey Respondent
"The main success, as always, has been the people. I have been very impressed by the regional group staff - committed, flexible, friendly, understanding of school constraints and helpful." School survey respondent
"If the team had not been in place, the group would have been much less effective. They make things happen." Local authority consultee
The majority of funding for the DYW Regional Groups goes on staff costs and other overheads, marketing / promotional events and project activity.
4.18 The four Regional Groups received grant awards of between £200k and £340k from the Scottish Government to support delivery of DYW activity in 2017-18. The contract award letters provide a breakdown of the allocation of this funding across different categories of spend. However, the level of detail provided is variable – ranging from two to eight categories of spend.
4.19 On the basis of the information that is available, and discussions with regional leads, there appear to be four main categories of spend:
- Staffing – accounting for 40-60% of total costs across the four groups.
- Marketing, campaigns and events – this is the second main category of expenditure, although the proportion of funds being spent on this varied from 6-51% across the four groups.
- Other overheads – including office space, stationery, IT equipment and travel. This category accounted for 8–15% of expenditure across the four groups.
- Project activity – the final category of spend includes provision to fund bespoke projects and activities. The level of funding allocated to this varied considerably across the regions.
4.20 The funding for the DYW Regional Groups has been used to leverage additional resource from the Chambers themselves (for example, through access to shared services, such as CRM systems, and co-funding of project executive posts), from other funders (such as the Princes Trust) and from employers (mainly in-kind). The extent of this leverage is potentially quite significant, but it is not possibly to quantify it at the moment as it is not being measured and reported in a consistent way.
The DYW Ayrshire Group used some of their resources to set up an Innovation Fund to support enterprise activities within schools.
4.21 DYW Ayrshire have set up an Innovation Fund, which schools in the region can bid into for financial support to deliver enterprise activities within schools. The grants awarded are typically between £5k and £10k. Matched funding is provided through the Princes Trust Cash Back for Communities Fund and in-kind resources (in the form of teaching support) are provided by the local college. The funded projects are mainly (although not exclusively) targeted at 'hard-to-reach' young people who are at risk of disengagement. The projects focus on activities aimed at developing their entrepreneurial and employability skills.
Email: Adrian Martin