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.

7 Young people participating in the YESF


7.1 This chapter provides the analysis of the young peoples' experience of participating in the YESF. It sets out the findings relating to their reasons for participating, their experience of the YESF job, details about non-completion, impacts and outcomes generated and the wider support needs of young people. The analysis is drawn from the online and telephone surveys, the Liveminds online discussion and follow up consultations with the young people. It also draws on findings of consultations with Local Authorities and stakeholders.

Profile of surveyed young people

7.2 There were 114 valid responses received from young people through the online and telephone surveys. They were between 16 and 29 years of age, with the highest proportion of respondents between 18 and 20 years old (53%). Respondents came from 11 of the 32 Local Authority areas in Scotland representing a mix of rural, urban and Highland/Island areas. The highest percentage of responses (23%) were from Inverclyde. The young people were at different stages with 78% having completed their jobs, 15% still undertaking their jobs and 7% had left their YESF job without completing it. Prior to starting the YESF job, the majority of young people surveyed were not working and were looking for a job (52%), 16% of respondents at college and 15% were at school before they started their YESF job.

7.3 A sample of young people were interviewed for more in-depth, qualitative research to supplement the surveys and prepare case studies. These young people were from five Local Authority areas (Fife, Glasgow, Clackmannanshire, South Lanarkshire and Falkirk).

YESF awareness

7.4 Figure 7.1 illustrates that almost a third (32%, 34 respondents) of young people found out about YESF jobs from Jobcentre Plus ( JCP). Over 10% of the young people reported that a school teacher or college tutor told them about the YESF opportunities (13%, 14 respondents) and 12% of respondents found out about the YESF opportunities from an online advert (13 respondents). A further 11% (12 respondents) found out about the YESF opportunities from a parent or carer.

Figure 7.1: Source of referrals to YESF

Figure 7.1: Source of referrals to YESF

Case study YP1:

Gaining qualifications through a YESF-supported job

YP1 is a 21 year old male from Fife. His job was a scaffolding Modern Apprenticeship with a scaffolding company in Fife. YP1 has completed his six months with the company and has been kept on because of his good performance. He now has a permanent position with the company and is completing all of his apprenticeship qualifications.

Engagement with YESF

Prior to starting the job, YP1 was unemployed. He had previous experience in scaffolding, but he had not received training opportunities during this previous position. He left this position as he knew that in order to become a scaffolder and progress, he would have to complete his scaffolding qualifications. The job provided the opportunity to gain these qualifications, provide further work experience opportunities and he also hoped it would lead to a permanent job.

His employer's website had an advertisement regarding jobs, and he also found out more details about the YESF on the website. It was his employer that then explained the role of the YESF and how this would be involved in his apprenticeship.

Views on their job

He spent the first four months of his job in the yard learning skills before applying these skills on site. His apprenticeship has involved helping the other scaffolders on jobs by fetching equipment and learning skills from his work colleagues. It was challenging to an extent, but he had previous scaffolding experience which made it more manageable and he was also continuously learning on the job, which was rewarding. Despite some of the challenges he did face, he felt "really welcomed and like he was part of the team". His employers made him feel like he was a permanent addition to the company by placing a welcome message and picture of him on the company website.

Benefits and outcomes

He has completed the first part of his scaffolding qualifications at college and is due to complete the second part in 2016. His time at college allows him to learn skills which he then puts into practice at work. The job was better than he thought it would be as it was a guaranteed CITB Apprenticeship which ensures he will have the opportunity to complete all of the required CITB training (although this is decided by the College rather than the employer).

He loves his job which, helps with the college work as he feels like he can bring his work experience to the classroom. He finds it easier to study for something which he enjoys and loves the subject.

Future outlook

YP1 wants to be a scaffolder and wants to remain at the company because it is a family based company with nice people who have made him feel welcome. He aims to continue working with them and is happy they kept him on after the duration of the YESF subsidy, once the funding had ended.

7.5 Other organisations that young people found out about the YESF from include Skills Development Scotland, Inverclyde Community Development Trust and at Local Authority events. Another key source of referral was through employability programmes such as Discover Opportunities in Dundee and Routes to Work in Lanarkshire.

7.6 The large number of young people who found out about the YESF job from JCP can be explained by the high volume of young people who were not working but looking for a job prior to starting the YESF job (52% of the respondents). Some of the young people were not aware of the YESF before they started working, as one stated:

"I had been in the job for a short time when my employer learned they could turn my role into a YESF job"

7.7 We understand that already being in employment would have made this young person ineligible for a YESF job but the evaluation highlighted a number of examples where this occurred.

Securing a YESF job

7.8 In line with how the young people learned about the availability of YESF jobs, 30% of young people secured the job with help from JCP. A further 22% were referred by someone, for example, a Careers Adviser and 21% saw the job advertised. Only 6% of the young people contacted an employer directly to enquire about the availability of a position and from there, went on to secure a YESF job.

7.9 The respondents rated how easy it was to find a job, on a scale of 1 (very difficult) to 5 (very easy). The highest number of young people rated it as a 4 or 5 (32% at 5 and 38% at 4). Only 1% of the young people rated finding a job as very difficult and comments included:

"It's an easy application."

7.10 Young people were often provided with support to apply for a job:

"The Job Centre (sic) were helpful in signposting me towards an opportunity and my friends and family were a great support network."

"I got help from my family, friends and college tutors at the time. All three were keen for me to do the apprenticeship."

7.11 Others received support to find a job from employability programmes and JCP, for example, to prepare their CV and application. One young person explained that JCP helped her to assess her career options when deciding whether to apply for a YESF job or undertake a college course. Another young person explained that the employability programme he was involved in provided support such as the safety boots he would need for his job as a warehouse assistant, as well as the travel expenses to attend his interview.

Motivation to participate

7.12 Eighty-three percent of respondents said that they wanted to take part in the YESF as they were looking for sustained employment. Additionally, 62% of respondents said it was a chance to get some work experience and 52% said that they wanted to earn money. Half of the young people in the survey indicated that they wanted to learn new skills. Some comments from young people include:

"I wanted the experience in my field of interest and a job at the time, I didn't like sitting in the house doing nothing."

"My reasons for undergoing (it) is because I wanted the experience, the qualification (Modern Apprentice) and hopefully [it would] lead me to a permanent job."

7.13 The survey asked young people to indicated their primary reason for participating and over half (54%) said that gaining a permanent job was the main motivation.

Profile of YESF jobs

7.14 The majority of the young people in the study had been in (or were currently in) a full time YESF job (64%) and a substantial proportion were completing a full time or part time Modern Apprenticeship (30%). Five percent of young people in the survey had had part time YESF jobs.

7.15 The young people participated in a diverse range of jobs in companies in a variety of different sectors such as construction, hospitality, retail and business and administration. Their positions ranged from administrative assistants, receptionists, tyre fitters, youth workers and nursery nurses. The jobs involved a range of activities and responsibilities depending on the setting in including building timber housing frames, providing IT services for schools and universities, assisting with patient enquiries in an osteopath's clinic and carrying out personal care duties in a nursery.


7.16 Of the young people who completed the survey, 78% had come to the end of the ERI and 22% had not. This included 15% of YESF participants who were still in the job, and 7% of whom left the job before the end of the ERI.

7.17 Of the eight young people who had left before the end of the ERI, three had left to move in to another permanent job with an alternative employer and two said they left for other reasons. Reasons for leaving early included starting a Modern Apprenticeship programme, going travelling and because the YESF job wasn't meeting their expectations.

Impacts and outcomes

7.18 The young people who responded to the survey provided their views on what they expected from their YESF job, the benefits they actually gained and reasons as to why their expectations were not met.


7.19 Table 7.1 sets out the benefits that young people expected to gain from the YESF job against those that they reported resulted from their participation.

7.20 The young people expressed their expectations of the YESF jobs in terms of developing hard and soft skills and future career progression. A key benefit which the majority expected was paid employment, either as part of or after the ERI was finished (86%). Just over half expected the job to be a quality job with training opportunities (55%).

7.21 The majority of young people said that they expected to gain hard skills in the form of new skills (75%), with some individuals noting that they wanted to develop specific skills such as in engineering and childcare. The main soft skills which the young people expected to develop were a better understanding of what it is like to work (75%), learning to work as part of a team (68%) and better communication skills (57%).

7.22 In terms of career progression, 68% of young people thought it would lead to sustained employment with the employer following the end of the ERI, 63% thought it would help them with their general future career progression and 40% believed it would help them to get a permanent job with another employer. Some of the young peoples' career progression expectations were as follows:

Case study YP2:

Developing trade skills

YP2 is 23 and is from South Lanarkshire. He began his position funded by the YESF when he was 21. The position is a joiner for one of Scotland's largest construction and manufacturing organisations.

Engagement with YESF

Prior to undertaking the position, YP2 was unemployed for around five months and on Jobseeker's Allowance. He had completed his joinery apprenticeship and had undertaken some temporary casual work but was looking for a permanent full time job.

A Jobcentre Plus adviser put him in touch with Routes to Work South, a charity based in South Lanarkshire that supports those unemployed in the area into further education, training and sustained employment. He found out about the position, which received YESF support, from Routes to Work South. He did not receive any further details from his employers in regards to the details of how the Fund was involved in the position.

Views on their job

He works in a manufacturing warehouse where timber frames and panelling are built for new build housing kits. This was different from his previous apprenticeship, as it had involved finishing joinery in customers' houses, where he carried out tasks such as fitting new kitchens. He enjoys his current job and prefers the working hours to his previous apprenticeship, as he has set working times and breaks. He also really likes his work colleagues and gets on well with them at work.

Benefits and outcomes

He has gained new skills from this position including both hard and soft skills. He has expanded his joinery skill set as now he has experience and knowledge in joinery at the beginning stages of construction ( e.g. building roofs and housing structures). This complements his existing knowledge of finishing joinery ( e.g. fitting kitchens and households), gained through his apprenticeship. In terms of soft skills, he now has the confidence when moving forward in his joinery career as he feels like he has a more comprehensive knowledge of joinery. He now considers that he is in the position where he is able to apply for a wider range of jobs if he wanted to move in the future, as he is a more attractive, experienced and skilled employee.

The job is what he thought it would be as he expected it to be stricter and more structured than his previous positions due to the nature of working in a warehouse setting. Although the position involved a different stage of joinery than that in which he completed his apprenticeship, he felt like he had relevant transferable skills which he has been able to apply and develop in the job.

Future outlook

He has enjoyed his job and has been there for 18 months to date. He would like to continue working for the organisation as he enjoys the work and there are also opportunities for him to progress and undertake a variety of different roles.

"I hoped (it) would give me the experience needed to move on to another permanent job afterwards or use my skills which I had learned to find a job elsewhere."

"I wouldn't say I went into the position with the hopes of keeping the job as an outcome from that company, but I hoped the experience would set me up in the right direction."

Benefits of the YESF job

7.23 Table 7.1 shows that the highest number of young people noted that a benefit gained from the YESF was paid employment, either as part of or after the ERI (75%). Many of the young people reported that the YESF allowed them to feel more confident (67%), a higher percentage than those who expected this to be a benefit (54%). This is supported by Local Authorities and stakeholders who view the YESF jobs as a chance for young people to develop confidence and other soft skills such as discipline and motivation. Similarly, respondents recognised the job as having developed their soft skills, with 51% stating that it made them feel better about themselves, higher than the 42% who noted this as an expected benefit. Some of the young people elaborated on the soft skills which they gained:

"I developed better organisation skills which I have utilised outside of work and have more confidence and experience of dealing with difficult or different personalities."

"I would also say that the development opportunities of my skills were extraordinary in terms of training offered on soft skills…confidence workshops, team building workshops, etc."

"I have more task specific skills now than before."

Table 7.1: Benefits and Expectations of YESF

Benefits Expected Benefits (%) (n=98) Benefits Gained (%) (n=95)
Paid employment, either as part of or after the YESF job 86% 75%
Learn new skills 74% 62%
Better understanding of what it is like to work 74% 67%
Learning to work as part of a team 68% 61%
It would lead to sustained employment with this employer 68% 53%
It would help with my future career progression 63% 43%
Better communication skills 57% 53%
It was a quality job with training 55% 47%
Feel more confident 54% 67%
Access to a Modern Apprenticeship 43% 33%
Feel better about myself 42% 51%
It would help me get a job with another employer 40% 23%
I would learn how to find and apply for a job 38% 24%
Other 6% 4%

7.24 Benefits gained fell short of expectations in relation to employment, with 53% noting that it led to a permanent job with the employer after the ERI, lower than the 68% of respondents who expected this to be an outcome. Only 43% said that it has helped with their future career progression, compared to 63% who expected this to be a benefit. Comments illustrating this include:

"I did not get a job at the end even though I [did] well during my apprenticeship and had a lot of knowledge. I was disappointed."

"Eventually after being with the organisation and knowing about the ins and outs, I feel that it isn't the best to work for as I am not guaranteed a job at the end and I could be dropped whenever they feel that they can't carry on paying me."

7.25 Other expected benefits that fell short of expectations include learning new skills (62% compared to 75%), gaining a better understanding of what it is like to work (67% compared to 75%) and accessing a Modern Apprenticeship (43% compared to 33%). Only 47% of respondents stated that the YESF job was a quality job with training opportunities, although 55% of the respondents expected this to be a benefit. Some of the young people described why their expectations were not met from their YESF jobs in terms of developing skills. One young person stated:

"[The] training wasn't as good as they made [it] out to be."

7.26 Whilst expectations were not always met, the data clearly shows that young people benefited from the YESF fund in a variety ways, learning new skills, gaining employment, accessing Modern Apprenticeships, job search skills and learning what it is like to work.

Employment impacts

7.27 Of those who had completed their YESF job, over half of these were in a permanent job with the same employer, following the end of the ERI (57%, 46 respondents). Of the remaining 43% (35 respondents) who were not in a permanent job with the same employer, the largest number of survey respondents were in full time work with another employer (56%, 20 respondents). The remainder included 19% who were considering their options (seven respondents), 11% who were at college or university (four respondents), 8% in part-time work (three respondents) and one respondent each was doing a Modern Apprenticeship or was on a different training programme.

7.28 Of the 69 young people in the survey who reported that they moved in to employment following the end of the ERI, 30% said that the YESF job gave them the skills they needed for their current job and 26% said they felt more confident to apply for jobs as a result of the YESF job. Over a fifth of the young people said that the reference they received from their YESF employer (22%) helped with their current position. Local Authority representatives and stakeholders noted the benefits young people gained by the YESF jobs for their future career progression by receiving support from employers during the period of the ERI and references from employers for when applying for subsequent positions. However, of those who are now employed, 9% said that the YESF job did not help at all with their current job:

"I had already gained [the] skills in previous jobs."

7.29 For those who still have not reached the end of the ERI, 68% hope to get sustained employment with the employer who is providing the YESF job. A further 9% would like to get a permanent job with another employer and 9% would like to pursue further education at college or university.

7.30 A higher percentage of the young people said that the YESF job has not influenced what they would do next. Fifty-five per cent of respondents stated that they would have pursued their desired career path despite undertaking the YESF job. Additionally, 40% said that the job had not helped to identify any career goals. However a third of young people (36%) said that the YESF job influenced their decision as to what they would like to do next, and typical comments include:

"It has opened my eyes to other possible career paths."

"[I] never thought I would ever have a career in business and administration before but now I love it."

Case study YP3:

Career progression for a young person

YP3 is a 19 year old male from Glasgow. He began his job when he was 18 as a trainee youth worker at a youth charity in the East of Glasgow, providing services such as formal and informal learning opportunities and sessions to discuss important issues in young peoples' lives. The charity's aim is to help build the confidence, social and employability skills of the young people. YP3 completed his funded six month period and was retained in his job with the charity because of his successful performance. He has since obtained a different position with an established UK wide charity which helps young people across the UK.

Engagement with YESF

Prior to the job, YP3 was unemployed for about two weeks. Before this, he had been undertaking casual youth work. He found out about the job and the YESF at the job centre because he had expressed an interest in youth work as he was specifically looking for a position in that sector. He wanted to undertake the job because "he hoped it would lead to an opportunity for a permanent job in youth work".

Views on their job

His job involved working with young people during the drop in youth sessions that the charity offered. He chatted to the young people and helped them with issues which they were facing and supported them in developing a plan in how to tackle these. As the sessions were drop in, anyone could attend and often it was those from the East of Glasgow, which suffers from high levels of deprivation, who attended. There were challenging aspects of the role. For example, the role often involved dealing with some of the complex issues the young people may have been facing, such as homelessness or abusive parents. However, he felt like he was part of the team and supported by his colleagues which made dealing with these challenges a lot easier.

Benefits and outcomes

Throughout the initial six months, YP3 developed youth working skills and gained confidence from the role. In particular he developed team working skills as his team would discuss the different options which were available to help the young people and collectively agreed the most suitable way in which to handle these. He was also referred by his employer to a night class where he gained youth work qualifications. The job was not what he thought it would be, as "he just thought it would be a job where he turned up every day, completed his tasks and went home". However, things were constantly changing and it was a complex environment where no two days were the same.

After the YESF subsidy came to an end, he was offered a permanent position with the charity. After a short period working with the charity, he left the organisation to join a UK-wide charity because it will allow him to progress and meet his future career goals.

Future outlook

The job reconfirmed that he wanted to work with young people and gave him a better idea of the specialisation in youth work which he wanted to take. The team work really helped him reaffirm his career goals, as learned a lot from his colleagues.

It cemented in me that I want to progress in communications (rather than the web-officer style position I am in now)."

"I now know that nursery work isn't for me and I'm now happy with the course I have."

7.31 It was a relatively even split between young people who feel that the YESF job has helped them to identify their long-term career goals with 38% stating that it has and 40% stating that it has not.

7.32 Local Authority representatives and stakeholders on the whole expressed the positive impact which YESF jobs has had on youth unemployment. There is a feeling that young people are now in employment because of the YESF when they otherwise would not have been, and that decreasing youth unemployment rates are linked to the introduction of the YESF ERI. Local Authority representatives and stakeholders also reported the softer benefits that young people have gained, such as increased confidence and self-esteem, as well as the work skills and experience that they have gained.

Wider benefits to young people

7.33 The evaluation explored whether the YESF job helped young people outside of the workplace such as at home or in their personal life. Participants reported how having a steady income has allowed them to support their family commitments and have less financial worries, for example:

"I now have less sleepless nights worrying about money."

7.34 Young people also noted that it helped to reduce family pressures with young people stating that their family is proud of their progress:

"My family and friends are so supportive and update me on how proud they are of me to be doing an apprenticeship."

7.35 The YESF participants also reported how it has helped their social lives, by having a routine and being able to maintain friendships outside of work due to having a balanced day and a steady income.

YESF job reflections

7.36 On the whole, there was a high satisfaction rate amongst young people, with 94% stating that they would recommend YESF to other young people. Only three said they would not, the main reason being that it had not led to a permanent job and that the wage they received was too low:

"Working a 25 hour week is not ideal, as the money from it [is] not enough to support me, and due to the fact that it was longer than [a] 20 hour week, I could not get a second job while doing this one."

7.37 The young people were asked to rate their job on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not at all useful and 5 being very useful. The largest proportion of young people ranked the job as being very useful (55%), with a further 32% ranking it as 4 on the scale. Only 1% of respondents rated it as not at all useful.

7.38 In respondents' reflections on their job, 82% said they would do a similar job in the future. The remainder said they would not do so, mainly due to feelings of job instability, low wages and the need to progress their career in sustained employment:

"I have already received the benefits."

"I have done one, now it is time to get on with the main career."

"I have moved on from my apprenticeship and would like to keep moving forward."

Case study YP4:

Changing career path and gaining new skills

YP4 is a 19 year old female from the Clackmannanshire region. She was 18 when she started her apprenticeship as a nursery nurse. She is currently still undertaking her job supported by the YESF, and is due to complete her apprenticeship in early 2016.

Engagement with YESF

She found out about the possibility of a funded job through the YESF after phoning the nursery directly, and enquiring whether they had any opportunities available. As a result of contacting the nursery, she was invited to an interview. She found out further information about the YESF at her interview by discussing the Fund and the opportunity in detail with her employer.

Views on their job

Prior to starting the apprenticeship, YP4 had been working at a hairdressers' salon for around a year and a half after leaving school. However, she really wanted to work with children. This led to her enquiring about the availability of apprenticeship opportunities at the nursery. She had no training before her apprenticeship, and she hoped that she would gain further experience and qualifications from the apprenticeship.

Benefits and outcomes

Her nursery apprenticeship has involved duties such as planning activities for children, carrying out individual personal care for children, general supervision and preparing snacks. She also attends college every two weeks and completes assignments which are helping her towards achieving her apprenticeship qualifications.

Some parts of the apprenticeship are challenging for YP4 as "certain parts of the job are harder than she thought they would be", but she feels like she is part of the team and the support she is given by her employer and her colleagues has helped her to fully overcome these challenges.

Overall the apprenticeship is more difficult and challenging than she thought it would be. However, she has learned new skills and now she is confident that she knows what she is doing in her role.

She has also developed good communication skills, and a better understanding of what it is like to work and learning to work as part of a team. Her self-confidence has also improved considerably as a result of undertaking her apprenticeship through the YESF.

Future outlook

She has enjoyed her apprenticeship so far, and has found it a fulfilling experience. YP5 hopes to continue working at her current nursery and further her career as a nursery nurse after she completes her apprenticeship.

"The wage is far too little to live off."

"It's not very rewarding and I can't feel comfortable with the job as it is not stable."


7.39 A key motivator for young people was to gain sustained employment and valuable skills through the YESF job. They were referred through a number of routes including JCP, employability support services and education institutions and benefited from assistance during the application process although they generally found the process straightforward.

7.40 Although young people sought hard employment outcomes through participating in the YESF, it brought wider impacts including gaining new soft skills such as increased confidence and communication skills and hard skills such as qualifications. It also provided clarity and direction for some young people who were unclear on the career path they would like to follow.

7.41 For many young people, there was a difference between their expectations regarding skills and benefits gained, and what they actually realised. Nevertheless, 75% of respondent young people did gain paid, permanent employment at the end of the ERI, which reinforces findings elsewhere in the study.

Case study YP5:

Discovering and pursuing career aspirations

YP5 is 22 and from Falkirk. She began her Modern Apprenticeship in business administration when she was 21 in an osteopath's clinic. She successfully completed her apprenticeship and although she was offered a permanent job with the clinic, she decided to go to college to continue further study.

Engagement with YESF

Before starting the position, YP5 was undertaking a six month Pathfinder college course to explore what she wanted to do with her future career. This course inspired her to apply to study business and administration at college. Jobcentre Plus advised her to apply for this YESF-supported opportunity. She believed it would be more beneficial to gain work experience in addition to college qualifications, as she only had one month of previous work experience, in a factory.

Views on their job

She undertook the role as a receptionist in her apprenticeship which involved a range of office administration, handling cash and maintaining the appearance of the clinic's reception area. She had a lot of responsibility and enjoyed the challenge of learning new skills.

Although she had a good working relationship with her manager and the team, she also completed a lot of tasks individually using her initiative which increased her confidence. The biggest challenge which she faced when she started the job was her English skills. As she is originally from Lithuania, her understanding and use of English was quite limited when she started the apprenticeship. However, she received a great deal of help from her manager and her colleagues to develop her spoken and written English, and provided guidance as and when necessary.

Benefits and outcomes

She gained her SVQ Level 1 from her Modern Apprenticeship and some SVQ Level 2 qualifications, but did not receive enough experience from the work she was undertaking to gain the entire SVQ Level 2. Apart from improving her English skills, the apprenticeship also developed her communication skills, her IT skills, and experience of dealing with a variety of customer enquiries:

"I feel like I have developed a good skill set and groundwork to take forward to a diverse range of jobs and I feel that the apprenticeship has allowed me to develop skills to deal with unfamiliar tasks and information in a new workplace".

Future outlook

The modern apprenticeship helped YP5 to decide her future career progression. Although she got offered a permanent position at the clinic, she decided to continue her studies at College. She is studying digital media as during her apprenticeship she discovered she really enjoyed the marketing and design aspects of the business that she was exposed to. She decided to enrol in college to further her knowledge in business marketing and digital media. YP5 is also working part time as a membership advisor for a sports club in Edinburgh and she thinks that her job experience has made this position easier, particularly when communicating with clients and her team mates. She plans to specialise in game design at college by completing her HND and then going on to university.


Email: Sharon Hamilton,

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