4. Supporting entry to work
Around one in seven employers (14%) were aware of their Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Regional Group and 3% had engaged with them. Engagement levels rose to 12% of public sector employers.
Work experience placements (including education placements, broad adult placements and internships) were provided by 36% of employers (compared to 39% in 2016), and work inspiration activities by 15% (an increase from 13% in 2016). The smallest employers were half as likely as those with five or more employees to provide work placements, the majority of employers with at least 10 employees did provide work experience.
Overall, education placements have increased since 2016 but there was a reduction in the number for university students (11% fewer). Adult work placements were provided by 12% of employers, most commonly in the form of work trials for potential new recruits (9% of employers). Placements for the unemployed were provided by fewer employers in 2019 than in 2016 (4%, compared to 7%).
A third of employers (34%) went on to permanently hire those who had been on a placement. Altruism generally motivates the provision of work experience and work inspiration activities, with company benefit of secondary importance.
Structural issues such as not having suitable roles were the most common barriers to providing work experience, with only one in five actively choosing not to offer it.
In the previous chapter, we highlighted the high value employers place on work experience when recruiting new staff. Wider research has shown the positive impact on employment that work placements afford young people (Mann, 2012), the unemployed (Haigh and Woods, 2016) and graduates (McCulloch, 2013). Work experience can help challenge barriers to entry into work, but to achieve this these opportunities need to be open to a broad range of individuals.
As part of supporting young people into work specifically, the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) programme has been in place since 2014. The DYW programme includes 21 employer-led Regional Groups, which work to foster partnerships between local industry and employers, and education. A key aim of this is that employers work with schools and colleges to provide more young people with a labour market-relevant range of work-based learning opportunities (including work placements and training), and a broader range of post-education employment opportunities.
The DYW programme runs from 2014 – 2021. DYW’s headline target of reducing youth unemployment by 40% (compared to 2014 levels) has been met ahead of 2021, but work continues across a range of intended outcomes, including improving gender balance across Apprenticeship frameworks, increasing the number of minority ethnic Apprenticeship starts, and increasing the employment rate for young disabled people. This includes the call for shorter journeys into employment (via the right courses and information) from the recent review of the 15-24 Learner Journey (Scottish Government, 2018b).
Employer engagement is a key part of DYW. The remit of the employer-led DYW Regional Groups includes undertaking work to increase employer engagement with schools and colleges, for example encouraging employers to mentor young people and help with interview skills, and – in the case of more developed partnerships – facilitating employer input to the curriculum. One of the key aims of this work is to increase employers’ recruitment of young people. By June 2017, 21 Regional Groups had been established (Scottish Government, 2014). Early evaluation found that their rate of development and progression (e.g. level of autonomy achieved and degree to which they reflect the local context) and approaches adopted have varied, but all Regional Groups are required to demonstrate that they have commitment to engaging a wide range of employers (Scottish Government, 2018c).
Through this chapter we examine the support offered to individuals to enter work. We will cover:
- Awareness and engagement with DYW regional groups: the extent to which employers are aware and have engaged with DYW and differences by size, sector and region;
- Work placements and supporting entry into employment: the extent to which employers are supporting entry into work through different types of work placements – including education placements, broad adult placements, and internships;
- Work inspiration activities: we consider the broader work experience activities employers engage in such as hosting site visits for students, talking to them about careers, or conducting activities such as mock interviews to improve their employability. We describe these activities as ‘work inspiration’ to distinguish them from work placements; and
- Barriers to work placements and work inspiration: we lastly consider the benefits and barriers employers experience with regards to offering work placements and work inspiration.
Awareness and engagement with DYW Regional Groups
The data presented in this section of the report indicates the extent to which the DYW groups as a whole are reaching and engaging with employers. Data relating to a DYW counterfactual analysis can be found and is discussed in Appendix B.
One in seven employers (14%) were aware of the DYW Regional Groups and 19% of those who had heard of the Groups had engaged with them over the past 12 months by offering work-related experience to school / college students, equating to 3% of all employers.
As shown in Figure 4.1, awareness of DYW Regional Groups increases with establishment size, from one in ten (11%) of those with 2-4 employees to over a third (37%) of those with with 100+ employees. Larger employers were also more likely to have engaged with a DYW Regional Group.
Awareness levels were especially high amongst employers in the Education sector (56%), and more than double that in any other sector. However it should be caveated that schools and colleges may have heard of/interacted with DYW for reasons other than being an employer, principally because they are the main delivery mechanism / actor for many parts of the DYW programme but also because of their role in ‘school-employer partnerships’, which the Regional Groups help facilitate. So it is perhaps unsurprising the Education sector has the highest awareness (and engagement, see below). Awareness is also notably above average amongst employers in the Public Administration, and Primary Sector and Utilities (22% and 19%); it decreases to 10% amongst Wholesale and Retail employers.
Moving to engagement with DYW Regional Groups, similar to awareness, the highest levels of engagement were in the Education sector (19%), followed by those in the Manufacturing (4%), Health & Social work (3%) and Arts sectors (3%).
Figure 4.1: Awareness of and engagement with DYW Regional Groups, by size and sector
Base: All establishments: 2,652 (2019); 4,009 (2016)
For base by size and sector see Table A.1.1
As detailed in Table 4.1, by region, awareness was above average in Dumfries and Galloway (25%), Highlands and Islands (21%), Ayrshire (20%), and particularly low in West Lothian (5%), Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire (9%) and Edinburgh and Lothians (10%). Amongst all employers engagement was highest in Dumfries and Galloway (6%), Highlands and Islands (5%), and Borders (5%), whilst only 1% or less of those in Edinburgh and Lothians, Lanarkshire, West, West Lothian and Fife had engaged.
Employers who train, and particularly those who provide both internal and external training are more likely to be aware of DYW Regional Groups (15% and 19% compared to 11% of those who do not train). These same employers were also more likely to have engaged.
Awareness levels are twice as high amongst employers who provided work experience (20% compared to 10% of those who did not), and around three times as high amongst those who provide ‘work inspiration’ activities for students (e.g. site visits or careers talks). Again, these employers were more likely to have gone on to engage with a DYW Regional Group.
Table 4.1: Awareness of and engagement with DYW Regional Groups, by region, 2019
|Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire||313||%||9||2|
|Dumfries and Galloway||111||%||25||6|
|Edinburgh and Lothians||334||%||10||1|
|Highlands and Islands||432||%||21||5|
Base: All establishments
Work placements and supporting entry into employment
Offering work placements
The previous chapter reported that work experience was a ‘significant’ or ‘critical’ factor looked for in candidates for the majority of employers. However, only 36% of employers had themselves provided any type of work placement in the 12 months prior to the study. Compared to previous years, the upward trend in provision of work placements appears to have stalled with a slight decrease from 39% in 2016.
The most common form of work placement provided was an education placement, (provided by 28% of employers, broadly in line with 2016): 20% of employers had provided a placement for people at school; 12% for those at college; and 11% for those at university – see Figure 4.2.
Broader, adult work placements were provided by 12% of employers, most commonly in the form of work trials for potential new recruits (9% of employers) but also placements to give work experience to the unemployed (4%). Internships (paid or unpaid) were provided by 5% of employers - a slight but significant decrease from the 7% who did so in 2016.
Figure 4.2: Broad and specific work placements provided in the last 12 months
Base: All establishments (2019: 2,652, 2016: 4,009)
As shown in Figure 4.3, the likelihood of having provided any form of work experience increases steadily with size, from 23% of those with 2-4 employees,to 78% among those with 100+ employees. This pattern is consistent across each type of specific work experience listed.
Figure 4.3: Provision of work placements in previous 12 months, by size and sector
Base: All establishments: 2,652 (2019); 4,009 (2016)
For base by size and sector see Table A.1.1
As shown in Figure 4.3, employers in the Education and Health & Social Work sectors are particularly likely to have provided some form of work experience in the year preceding the 2019 study, followed by those in the Arts sector (77%, 68% and 48% respectively, compared to 36% of all employers). These three sectors were more likely to have provided education placements compared to other sectors (69%, 58% and 40% of employers compared to 28% of all employers.
Employers in the Health & Social Work, Education, and Hotels & Restaurant sectors were also more likely than others to have provided broader adult work experience in the last year (25%, 25% and 20%), the latter driven by a particularly high proportion of employers. providing work trials for new recruits (18% compared to 9% across all employers).
Figure 4.4: Broad type of work placements provided in previous 12 months by sector, 2019
Base: All establishments: 2,652 (2019)
For base by sector see Table A.1.1
By region, Tayside employers were the most likely to have provided any form of work experience in the last 12 months, with 42% having done so in the year preceding the study, compared to only 25% of those in Dumfries and Galloway and 32% of those in Highlands and Islands. By specific type of placement:
- Around a third of employers in Forth Valley, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Tayside and West provided educational placements compared to only around a quarter of employers in Highlands and Islands, and a fifth of employers in Fife and Dumfries and Galloway;
- Employers in Forth Valley and Tayside were especially likely to have provided work experience for school students, 27% and 26% compared to 10% amongst those in Fife;
- Lanarkshire employers were more likely than the average overall to have provided work experience for college students (19%) and those in Highlands and Islands were less likely than average (9%);
- Glasgow employers were particularly likely to provide placements for university students (15% compared to only 6% in Borders) and to have provided internships (8% compared to only 3% to 4% of employers in several regions); and
- In contrast to their low likelihood of having provided educational placements, employers in Fife were particularly likely to have provided other broad adult placements, 18% compared to 12% amongst all employers.
Employers who place higher value on candidates’ work experience were more likely to have provided work placements (39% of those for whom it is ‘critical’ or ‘significant’ compared to 32% of those for whom it is only of small value or no value). However, 60% of those who highly value work experience still did not provide it, perhaps contributing to the gap between demand and supply of experienced workers.
Employers who have engaged with their DYW Regional Group are more likely to be those who have provided work experience (84% compared to 36% amongst all employers).
As well as the proportion of establishments offering work placements in the previous
12 months, as in previous years, the survey determined the number of individuals offered work placements. In this next section we present the mean number of individuals taken onto work placements during this period.
In total, employers offering work placements each took an average of just over 6.2 individuals on to a placement in the 12 months before the survey, an increase from an average of just over 5 individuals per establishment in 2016. So although the proportion of employers offering placements in Scotland has decreased, those who do are offering to more individuals. Almost 333,000 placements were offered to individuals by employers, an increase of 6% from just under 315,000 in 2016.
As might be expected, the average number of placements per employer offering placements increases with establishment size – from 4.1 per employer among the 2-4s (compared to 3.1 in 2016), to 21.2 placements per employer amongst those with 100+ staff (a slight decrease from 21.7 in 2016). Therefore those employers who do offer work placements typically take on more than one individual, over the course of a year.
By sector there was substantial variation. Employers in the Public Administration sector who provided placements each provided the most placements (an average of 24.1), followed by the Health and Social Work sector (an average of 11), Education (9.4) and Hotels and Restaurants (6.4). In contrast the average number of placements offered by each establishment in Financial Services, Wholesale and Retail, Manufacturing, and Primary Sector and Utilities was four or under (see Figure 4.5).
Figure 4.5 also shows the total and mean number of placements being offered within each sector among employers offering placements in the last 12 months, which gives further context. For example although Public Administration employers provided the highest average number of placements per employer, they represent a relatively small number of the overall ‘pool’ of placements. By contrast, Business Service employers whilst providing fewer placements per employer on average (an average of 4.9) provided almost double the volume in absolute terms.
Figure 4.5: Total and mean number of work placements among those offering in the last 12 months, by sector
Base: All establishments who have had placements in the last 12 months. See Table A.4.1 for base sizes by sector.
Work placements leading to employment
A third (34%) of employers who provided work placements had gone on to recruit the trainee into a permanent or long-term paid role, similar to the 31% who had done so in 2016. In most cases this was directly following their placement (25%), though 10% hired them upon completion of their course.
As detailed in Table 4.2, work trials were by far the most likely form of work placement to lead to permanent employment: 63% of employers who offered these to potential new recruits then hired them for a long term role. This is unsurprising given that they are primarily designed to test the suitability of the candidate for a permanent role.
Work placements for those at university or college were more likely to lead to permanent employment than for those who were still at school (24% and 23% compared to 14%). School work placements are likely to have been shorter and are intended to give a learning experience of the workplace, and help young people make informed choices about their choseen career (Education Scotland, 2015), rather than lead to permanent employment.
Table 4.2: Whether any work experience placements led to permanent or long-term paid employment by broad type of placement, 2019
|Unwtd. base||Establishments recruiting into a permanent or long-term paid role by placement type|
|For school students||722||14|
|For college students||479||23|
|For university students||448||24|
|Broad adult placements||526||49|
|Work trials for potential new recruits||333||63|
|Targeted at unemployed||187||31|
Base: All who have offered placements in the last 12 months
Other work experience activities
Overall around one in seven employers (15%) had engaged with schools, colleges or universities during the 12 months preceding the study to provide work experience activities for students in addition to or instead of providing work placements. This may have involved hosting site visits for students, talking to them about careers, or conducting activities such as mock interviews to improve their employability. To distinguish from the work experience provision reported above we describe these activities as ‘work inspiration’.
Those establishments that were aware of DYW Regional Groups were significantly more likely to have provided work inspiration activities than those who were unaware (33% compared to 12% respectively). Provision of work inspiration activities increases further still among those that have engaged with their DYW local lead or Regional Group, 72% of those engaging had provided some type of work inspiration activities, compared to 24% who had not engaged with their DYW group.
As with work experience the likelihood of offering work inspiration increases with establishment size, from only 8% of the smallest employers with 2-4 employees, rising to 60% among those with 100+ employees. (see Figure 4.6).
Figure 4.6: Provision of work inspiration activities by size and sector
Base: All establishments: 2,652 (2019); 4,009 (2016)
For base by size and sector see Table A.1.1
Among sectors, 39% of those in the Education sector (who were asked to focus only on engagement with students external to their organisation), 31% of those in Public Administration sectors and 27% in the Health and Social Work sector had provided work inspiration activities. Whereas, only 6% in Construction, 8% in the Hotels and Restaurants sector and 9% in the Wholesale and Retail sector provide work inspiration for students at schools, colleges or universities.
Employers based in Glasgow lead in the provision of work inspiration activities (as they do in the provision of work placements for university students and internships), 20% provide them as do 18% in Dumfries and Galloway, compared to only 9% in Fife (who were also particularly unlikely to provide placements for those in education, especially those in school) and 11% in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
Combining the provision of work experience as reported in the previous section, some form of work experience or work inspiration was offered by 40% of employers in the last year. Most provided work experience alone (26% of employers) and providing work inspiration alone is rare (4% offered only this and no work experience). 11% offered both. Nearly all larger employers offered either work experience or work inspiration (87% of those with 100+ employees), as did a large majority of those in the Education sector (86%).
Three in five (60%) of all employers offered neither work experience of work inspiration. This increases to three-quarters (74%) of those with 2-4 employees, 78% of those in the Construction sector and 79% of those that do not offer any training.
Reasons for offering work placements
Employers generally state altruistic reasons for offering work placements or internships (69%), with only around a third stating that they do so for their own benefit (32%) and a small minority stating that they do so to meet particular circumstances, e.g. they were approached by a student or education provider (7%).
As shown in Figure 4.7, the most common single reason was to provide experience for the trainee (56%), for 25% it was for ‘moral’ reasons (i.e. to benefit young people or ‘do their bit’), for 7% this was part of a formal social responsibility or Coporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy.
A quarter (26%) reported that it helped them with recruitment, or that they use it as trial period, and 6% that it raises their profile in the recruitment market.
Figure 4.7: Reasons employers provide work experience, 2019
Base: All establishments who have had work placements in the last 12 months (1,260)
The importance of benefit to the company is greater for larger companies, mentioned by over two-fifths (45%) of those with 100+ employees compared to a quarter (26%) of those with 2-4 employees.
Company benefit remains of secondary importance to altruistic factors in all sectors, but is more likely to be a reason for the provision of work experience for those in Primary Sector and Utilities (48%), Hotels and Restaurants (47%), Manufacturing (46%) and Transport and Communications (43%). Many of these sectors were less likely to provide work experience. This suggests that promoting the company benefits of offering work placements / inspiration activities amongst these sectors may help encourage greater provision.
Barriers to offering work experience opportunities
As in 2016, EPS 2019 asked employers not providing work placement / internship programmes or other work-related experience what the barriers were to doing so.
Structural issues were the most common barrier to employers being able to offer work experience or work inspiration activities, raised by 68% of establishments. Within this group, 38% thought they had no suitable roles and 20% did not have time or resources (see Figure 4.8). Transport and Communication sector employers who did not provide any work experience or related activities were particularly likely to cite a structural barrier (81%).
One in five (19%) of those that did not offer work experience said this was an active choice, employers with 2-4 employees were significantly more likely to cite this than average (22%). Some of these employers (10%) were under a recruitment freeze and 4% thought that offering these opportunities would not result in any business benefit (or that any benefit would not be worth the cost). Primary Sector and Utilities employers who did not provide any work experience or related activities were particularly likely to have made an active choice not to do so (31%).
There is clear opportunity for expanding the number of employers offering work placements, with one in five (21%) employers unaware of what they might be able to offer. This includes 16% that had not been approached about providing work experience or work inspiration activities, and 5% had simply never considered it. A lack of awareness is particularly likely amongst establishments with between five and 24 employees, and it is less likely that those in this size band have made an active choice not to provide work experience. A continued / renewed policy focus on this group of smaller employers could therefore be particularly impactful.
Figure 4.8: Barriers to providing work placements and work inspiration activities, 2019 and 2016
Base: Establishments offering neither work experience placements nor work inspiration activities in the last 12 months (2019 1,268, 2016 1,918)
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