The life chances of young people in Scotland: report to the First Minister

Recommendations for improving the life chances of young people from less advantaged backgrounds.

Foreword and Acknowledgements

I was delighted that in summer 2016, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, asked me to focus on Action 10 of my first report 'Shifting the Curve' to carry out a review of the life chances of young people in Scotland.

My approach in this second report has been to find out what the data says, talk to people affected to see if their experiences resonate with the data, and consider what actions could be taken. In considering the actions, they need to pass several tests: do they make sense in terms of the identified problem, do they fit with the grain of current processes and systems already in train, and most importantly, do they make sense to the people affected.

"The Life Chances of Young People in Scotland" is the main output from this work. It has been informed by a formal review of the evidence which I commissioned from Scottish Government analysts, and engagement with a wide range of experts including young people themselves.

The central questions in my meetings with young people focused on the challenges they face. As with "Shifting the Curve" I have been struck by the genuinely open and constructive approach that people have taken when engaging with me. A persistent question that we all struggled with was "what are reasonable expectations for a person of 18 or 24 in terms of employment, education, and housing?" It is generally accepted that wages will be lower when starting a career and that young people will eventually leave the parental home to set up on their own. But these expectations of advancement and independence seem beyond the reach of some young people. This report explores some of the reasons why, and some of the possible mitigating actions that could help.

It would have been impossible to produce this paper alone, I am extremely grateful to everyone who took the time to meet with me.

Firstly, a special thanks to all the young people who took part in the engagement events organised by the Scottish Youth Parliament, Prince's Trust and South Lanarkshire College, thanks also to the Scottish Government modern apprentices who participated. I'm also extremely grateful to the academics who attended a roundtable discussion and shared their expertise, knowledge and research.

Secondly, thank you to the many Scottish Government officials, local government and third sector representatives and other individuals who again have been so helpful and supportive. And finally, a big thank you to Shirley Laing, the lead Scottish Government official for this work, and my Secretariat team - Paul Tyrer, Alison Stout, Catriona Rooke, Karen Armstrong and Andrew Fraser - who have done a huge amount to support me in the development of this report.

The recommendations outlined in this report are mine as an Independent Advisor and, whilst they have been informed by the discussions above, any errors or misjudgements are entirely my responsibility.

It is with great pleasure that I now pass this report to the First Minister.

Naomi Eisenstadt CB

Naomi Eisenstadt CB


Email: Andrew Fraser,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Back to top