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.

Section 5 - Conclusions

This report highlights the position of young people from less advantaged backgrounds in modern Scotland. While there is much to be optimistic about in terms of improving school performance, record low youth unemployment, and the vast majority of young people leaving school with a positive post school destination, the persistence of the social class gradient is deeply worrying. The fundamental fact remains that life outcomes are largely determined by the wealth and social class of one's parents at birth. This applies across the social spectrum, not only to the richest and poorest of families. And it represents not just fundamental unfairness, but also significant waste of talent and opportunity for the economy and social cohesion of Scotland.

Some of the recommendations in this report are about a change in culture and public attitudes towards education and employment. Success will be marked by parents from middle class areas bragging to their friends about their son's decently paid apprenticeship. Success will be marked by more girls going into technology and more boys going into childcare. Success will be marked by better employment rates, in better paid jobs, for disabled young people. Government can legislate, but many of these issues cannot be solved by legislation. They require action by schools, the private sector, and public sector employers. They require strong and independent third sector organisations to campaign collectively on issues of shared concern.

In my role as Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality, I have had the opportunity to meet with many of the people my role is meant to support. What is most surprising and encouraging is how little, not how much, is being asked for from government: a fair system, a decent job, a decent place to live. This is what we all want, but for some it is a distant hope, not a reasonable expectation. I hope that the recommendations in this report, if implemented, will contribute to bridging that gap.

Finally, in implementing the recommendations in this report, I hope those responsible will work closely with young people. I have no doubt that the quality and legitimacy of actions taken will be greatly enhanced by such collaboration. I am grateful for the contributions young people have made so far, and am hopeful that, with their help, we will get considerably closer to a decent home and a decent job for all.


Email: Andrew Fraser,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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