Youth Employment Scotland Fund (YESF): evaluation report

Evaluation report of the Youth Employment Scotland Fund (YESF) to assess its impact on young people and employers.

1 Introduction

Overview and purpose

1.1 This report presents the findings of the evaluation of the Youth Employment Scotland Fund ( YESF). ekosgen was commissioned by the Scottish Government in August 2015 to undertake the evaluation into the delivery of the YESF and the outputs it has secured. The evaluation incorporated extensive primary research with participating employers and young people, along with key stakeholders, and Local Authorities as delivery agents.

1.2 It assesses the success and effectiveness of the YESF in delivering jobs for young people and the extent to which it has secured sustained employment. It explores how effective a wage incentive Employer Recruitment Incentive ( ERI) is in tackling youth unemployment and what other support can impact on unemployment. The evaluation identifies key delivery lessons to inform future youth employability initiatives and goes on to make a series of evidence-based recommendations for the Scottish Government and delivery partners.


1.3 The YESF is a Scottish Government and European Social Fund ( ESF) funded programme that provided a £25m package of support to deliver an ERI in order to support up to 10,000 young people into jobs across Scotland. Funding was initially available for job starts up to 31 st December 2014. When the ESF element ended after two years, the YESF was extended by another year [ 2] with co-investment from Local Authorities.

1.4 Delivered at a Local Authority level, the YESF aimed to support the Scottish Government's commitment to help unemployed 16-24 year olds (extended to 29 year olds on 10 August 2014) into work, and build on local and national measures that provide education and training to prepare young people for employment. It was introduced in response to the high youth unemployment resulting from the economic downturn, recognising that in this period, simply being young was a significant barrier to employment.

1.5 Now at the end of its programme of funding, the success of the Fund needs to be determined and the lessons drawn out.

Study aims and objectives

1.6 The main aim of the evaluation is to assess the impact of the Fund on individuals, employers and on the capacity of third sector organisations. Specifically, its objectives are to:

  • Identify the outcomes secured for young people and for employers as a result of participating in the YESF;
  • Determine the extent to which the YESF has helped to deliver sustained employment for young people in Scotland;
  • Identify the factors that have affected the delivery of the YESF for Local Authorities;
  • Capture the key learning from delivery to inform future employability programmes;
  • Provide recommendations on the future delivery of ERIs, and the approach of the Scottish Government and strategic partners in facilitating sustained youth employment.

Study approach

1.7 The researcher adopted a multi-method approach, with a strong emphasis on primary research. This comprised telephone and online surveys of participating employers and young people, coupled with follow-up interviews to explore key themes. The surveys and interviews with young people were supplemented with an online discussion group to gain more in-depth qualitative data.

1.8 In addition, we consulted with a range of stakeholders and Local Authority staff to explore experiences of, and learning from, the delivery of the YESF along with its impacts.

The report

1.9 The remainder of the report is structured as follows:

  • Chapter 2 details the research methodology;
  • Chapter 3 provides an overview of the YESF, and its delivery throughout Scotland;
  • Chapter 4 examines the performance of the YESF to date, considering achievement of outputs against targets;
  • Chapter 5 explores the delivery experience of Local Authorities, and any challenges or locally specific conditions that impacted on delivery;
  • Chapter 6 draws out the findings on the impacts and experiences of employers who provided jobs for young people;
  • Chapter 7 assesses the impact that the YESF has had in terms of providing ERI supported jobs, sustained employment and other outcomes for young people;
  • Chapter 8 considers the effectiveness of a wage incentive ERI;
  • Chapter 9 draws out the conclusions and provides recommendations for the future.

1.10 The report contains two annexes: a schedule of consulted individuals and organisations; and a schedule of Local Authorities participating in the qualitative research.


Email: Sharon Hamilton,

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