High Level Recommendations
There are a number of recommendations in the following sections and it is fully recognised that not all of these recommendations can be progressed immediately. I have therefore grouped the recommendations using the following criteria:
- Start immediately - recommendations that should be started now to make an immediate impact
- Start in 3 - 6 months – important recommendations, however, these can be started in 3- 6 months’ time but should not be deferred indefinitely.
As mentioned above, it is important that all these actions are completed in order to deliver a sustainable employability framework for our young people. I received a very clear message from the majority of stakeholders that the Young Person Guarantee should not have an end date, it should be the way we manage youth employment in Scotland going forward.
Section 1 – The Young Person’s Journey
To ensure the Young Person Guarantee is simple for young people and businesses to engage with, the current employability landscape must be simplified and greater impact must and can be achieved from the current level of investment. It is recommended that this journey is co-designed with young people using third sector organisations like Young Scot, Princes Trust, Action for Children, Career Ready and Barnardo’s. The most important aspect of the implementation is to be clear on the young person’s journey from S4 until they reach 24; what are their options, choices and pathways, in other words what does the ‘Guarantee’ mean in practice. In addition, the roles and responsibilities of all groups and stakeholders must be clear to avoid confusion and duplication. There is a clear need to align with the work already underway on No One Left Behind and 16-24 Learner Journey Review with particular reference to Key Priority 1 – Information Advice & Support – making it easier for young people to understand their learning and career choices at the earliest stage and providing long-term person-centred support for the young people who need this most. Work should start immediately on mapping the Young Person Journey for the Guarantee.
There are two core elements to ensuring the Guarantee is sustainable and they are around supporting young people throughout their journey. The complement of that is the provision of career advice and insight for our young people and the second is the support the third sector and equalities experts can play in supporting our young people in school, moving out of school and into work/education. One of the successes in Edinburgh in 2010 was the partnership with third sector organisations in the delivery of the guarantee.
- Throughout the stakeholder meetings, a common theme was around the provision of career advice and insight to young people from early years through higher and further education. The message was simple, it is currently inconsistent and is influenced by many differing factors. If the Guarantee is to have a long-lasting impact on our young people and they are to receive the quality of advice to help them with choices and decisions they will need to make, then addressing this issue is important. This will form the foundation on which the Guarantee will be based.
The Scotland’s Careers Strategy: Moving Forward report has just been completed and it is recommended that under the leadership of SDS, an implementation plan is developed to take forward the recommendations. In addition, SDS should be asked to consider how best a career advice service could operate from early years right through until a young person enters employment. This would also start to address the long term issue of how best to give young people the insight to what the economy of Scotland is likely to need in the future and how that might influence their decision around career paths. For example, we know there is already a shortage in areas such as digital, cyber, AI etc and these skills and careers will be increasingly important. Having that quality career advice earlier would go some way to helping young people with their decision making.
Finally, the third sector already plays a vital role in helping young people in school and their options for when they are leaving school. In considering how best to develop that end to end career service SDS would be asked to collaborate and work with the third sector so their services are an integral part of the model. This would also allow the development of the service to be based on what our young people would look for from such a service, in other words a co-design approach. Start within 3 to 6 months.
- Through engaging with SCVO, contract with a small number of third sector Scotland-wide organisations to establish an eco-system that supports young people from all backgrounds ‘in school’, ‘moving from school’ and ‘into work’ (note there already exists examples of this e.g., St. Roch’s secondary school). These national led third sector organisations would also engage with other local third sector organisations to ensure the eco-system works in the region. This approach would also align with the proposed governance model detailed above. Start within 3 to 6 months
Section 2 - Strategic
- A consistent theme throughout my extensive stakeholder engagement has been the need to better align education provision at all levels with the future economic strategy for Scotland with the needs of employers. This of course is not a new challenge but it has now become an imperative to solve. The benefits of bringing clarity to this question should not be underestimated as it will allow us to better educate and develop sustainable skills in our young people which are valuable to them and Scotland. The recent Logan Report highlighted the need for upskilling/training for the technology sector in Scotland given its importance to the future economy. The acceleration to becoming a more sustainable economy that covers all sectors means it is vital this collaboration across government, education and employers starts immediately. It is my recommendation that DYW would be best placed to lead on this and should be invited to start this as a matter of urgency. Start immediately
- Ensure that the UK Government, Scottish Government and Local Authorities work together to ensure seamless alignment between the Kickstart programme and the Young Person Guarantee. There can be no overlap or competition between Kickstart and the Young Person Guarantee, instead the Guarantee must build on the UK government investment and enhance the offering to young people. We also need to ensure there is no competition, overlap or added complexity at a local level between employability programmes. The direction must be to have all investments sit under the Young Person Guarantee umbrella to deliver a seamless journey for our young people and employers. Start immediately
- Invite SDS to conduct an analysis to gain a better understanding of the sectors, including the public sector, that will be continuing to thrive and grow, those sectors that are less/marginally impacted and then the sectors that are most impacted so we better understand where the opportunities for young people could be stimulated. This analysis could also help increase alignment between the provision of college and university courses and the needs across Scotland more locally. There already exists excellent regional and local data from SDS however its use is inconsistent. With the governance structure detailed later in the paper, a core part of making that operate effectively will be using the data to make decisions to address regional and local economies. Start immediately
- Carefully consider the different groups of young people who are affected by the impact of Covid-19 to really understand their starting point, their concerns, aspirations and what choices/options they see in front of them. There are many third sector organisations, for example, Young Scot, Robertson Trust, Career Ready who could support this work. As we start to action the recommendations in this paper I also believe it is important we maintain regular engagement with young people to understand the impact the Guarantee is having on their lives day to day so we can make changes quickly to address any challenges. Start immediately
Section 3 - Stimulating the Demand-side in the labour market and retention of existing jobs
The single most important immediate action is to stimulate the demand side in the labour market. The following are a series of recommendations which would drive demand. Given the scale of the crisis, state intervention will be required to support many of these recommendations.
- For the young people who need help the most, implement a model where government will pay 50% of the wages for 18 months and the SME or third sector organisation who would employ the young person pay the remaining 50%. This 50/50 model would be a true partnership and would be a much better use of public money than paying young people to stay at home. It would also have wider positive effects on society more generally and reduced costs on other areas of Government. There would be a requirement for the SME and third sector organisation to commit to pay the Living Wage at the end of the 18-month period. This can be supported by the recently announced Job Start Payment to support entry into employment. Scottish Government and Local authorities should work together quickly to cost and establish how such a model could work through existing mechanisms and powers. Start immediately
- In partnership with employers, in sectors who are less impacted (e.g., life sciences, financial services, software engineering, utilities), encourage them to create more opportunities for young people. To date SSE, Scottish Power, SFE, ABI, Standard Life Aberdeen, Cap Gemini, Weir Group, Scottish Water and Forth Ports are all considering how they can become early adopters of the Guarantee. There are good examples of business clusters being established where companies from similar/related sectors come together and form a very clear skills, employment and careers agenda. Two notable examples are SFE and Scotland IS where working with their members they are driving forward a progressive skills and careers agenda for young people in their sector. This also very often involves the cluster working effectively in partnerships with schools/colleges/universities and SDS in developing programmes to encourage young people to consider careers within that sector. Consideration should be given to build on these good examples of cluster collaboration particularly in sectors that will be important for Scotland’s economic future. DYW, SDS and all employer groups should be asked to call upon businesses across their networks to support the Guarantee and do all they can to create opportunities for young people. Start immediately
- Public sector can be a driver of demand through existing vacancies but also at a local level LA’s must create a number of roles/jobs as part of the Guarantee. Local Authorities would also act as a conduit with all other public bodies in the region, in conjunction with this we recognise the unique and important role that the NHS plays as a major local employer and will work to align any offer with their provision. Start immediately
- Some of the hardest hit sectors are leisure, tourism, hospitality, retail where traditionally young people, people from minority ethnic backgrounds and women have secured jobs. A real driver of business in these sectors is consumer spending and it is vital for these small businesses that this employer driven business recovers as soon as possible. Taking account of the impact of Covid-19 on the world of work, the need for employers to embrace much greater flexibility and significantly increased safety for employees we should encourage working models that allow people to return to their place of work, when it is safe to do so, to stimulate consumer spending in these hardest hit sectors. Start in 3 to 6 months
- In rural economies, look to build on the success of the SDS apprenticeship programmes where businesses who would not normally have taken an apprentice full-time come together as part of a group who share an apprentice, in other words a co-operative type model. There are good examples of where this has worked well in farming, forestry and hospitality but there is scope to scale the proposition. It should, however, be recognised that access to affordable public transport is a very real barrier so support to apprentices would need to be provided either through a subsidy or paying the Living Wage. Start in 3 to 6 months
- The SME sector comprises approximately 350,000 companies that employ 1.2m people and will, therefore, play a vital role in creating opportunities for young people in Scotland. One of the successes in Edinburgh in 2010 was a simple message of ‘if we can get 150 SME’s all to take one young person then we make a big impact’. If we adopted a similar approach, if even 10% of SME’s all provided one opportunity that equates to 35,000 jobs. During my conversations with both the Scottish Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, we discussed creating 35,000 to 50,000 jobs within SME’s in Scotland. They felt this is a challenge they could take forward with their members given the right financial support, however, they did stress the need to make the process simple unlike previous employability programmes which have turned off some businesses. Serious consideration should be given to provide some incentive for SME’s who provide opportunities for young people for a minimum of 18 months and who also give a commitment to becoming a Living Wage Employer if they are not already one. This would also build on the Kickstart Guarantee at a UK level. Start immediately
- Acceleration of infrastructure projects. While this may not be a short-term driver of demand, acceleration will drive opportunities in the medium and longer term. Priority should be given to projects where there is a positive impact on the environment and promotion of Fair Work with this reflected in the community benefit clauses. Start in 3 to 6 months
- Explore the feasibility of increasing and redirecting places in universities and colleges to engage more young people in further and higher education, including post graduate degrees. (NOTE - need a decision on this quickly). The post graduate qualifications should be focused on skills aligned with the needs of the future economy. Start immediately
- Make sure that that the release of the City Deal money for infrastructure projects, particularly those projects with positive environmental impact, create sustainable good quality jobs for young people that provide fair work. Start in 3 to 6 months
- While recognising the positive impact the apprenticeship levy has had on the numbers of apprenticeships in Scotland with the vast majority being in the SME sector, we should look to encourage larger firms and the public sector to offer more apprenticeship opportunities. There remain several sectors where there is scope to do more. Start immediately
- Actively engage the investment management industry to support the funding of environmental and socially positive projects e.g., social housing developments which in turn creates employment. Start in 3 to 6 months
- Reduce/streamline regulation and planning permission for environmentally focused projects that create jobs. Also use the over-supply of young people to accelerate environmentally focused projects for example home insulation, charging points for electric vehicles etc. Start immediately
- Invite the third sector in partnership with a private sector business, for example, BT, to look at options to eradicate ‘digital poverty’ and thereby also creating jobs. This was also highlighted in the recent Logan Review. Start in 3 to 6 months
- Volunteering has a key role to play in supporting the demand-side and it is recommended that the findings and recommendations from the recent VIP Volunteering report are adopted in full. The Social Enterprise sector also has a role to play in creating jobs that are also inclusive and fair and they should be approached to see how best they could support the guarantee and its ambition. Start immediately
- Starting with public sector procurement policy but subsequently reaching into larger private sector organisations, build a requirement into the supply chain that firms bidding for work have a commitment to the Young Person Guarantee and that there is clear evidence of progress in supporting young people into work and/or education. Start in 3 to 6 months
- The Health and Social Care sector already has thousands of opportunities/roles which could be used to support young people into employment, however, some key changes would need to be implemented including work on establishing clear career paths, enriching of current jobs to make them more attractive and better paid. Finally, Health Boards should establish relationships with SDS, Colleges or the Open University/Universities on the provision of apprenticeships and education. Encouragingly there was a strong appetite to do this amongst the stakeholders I spoke to and it is recommended that consideration is given as to who should take the lead in taking this opportunity forward. Start immediately
Section 4 - Governance
As referenced earlier in the report, the current employability landscape, governance and processes are overly complex and confusing for both young people and employers. It is, however, recognised that we face an immediate crisis and, therefore, the Guarantee will initially have to work with existing governance models and stakeholders for a period of time in order to deliver for young people now. In order to make the Guarantee sustainable I do believe there is a need to transition to a simpler more streamlined governance model that would also have an explicit objective of dismantling some of the existing bureaucracy. A consistent theme from almost all stakeholder meetings has been a call for simplification.
- It is recommended that in line with the evolving DYW structure review, that we align the governance structure of the Young Person Guarantee to 6 ‘economic regions’ all with an anchor employer who will also provide a senior business leader to act as Chair. The approach in Edinburgh in 2010 was very much based on a strong EQUA partnership between the Local Authority and business with one key anchor employer working in collaboration with other employers/business groups, all aspects of education, public sector, third sector and equalities experts. What I am proposing for the Young Person Guarantee is each Board would have representation from Local Authorities, other employers/employer groups, DWP, third sector, education providers and SDS. With respect to the third sector representation, SCVO would be asked to nominate who should sit on each Regional Board from its membership to act as the anchor charity for that region and they would then engage at a local level to align charities around the delivery of the Guarantee. This would allow implementation, where appropriate, to happen at a ‘region’ level but also at a Local Authority level within the region. The Guarantee must be flexible to meet the specific needs of different geographic regions and ensure compliance with local governance. Its recognised that this approach would extend the remit of DYW, however, to ensure there is no structures/bodies created DYW is the natural group to take forward many of the recommendations in this report. Start in 3 to 6 months
- The economic region structure would be charged with setting clear targets against an agreed set of outcome measures which are aligned with the ambition, principles and plan for the Young Person Guarantee. They would also oversee and work with the local Regional Economic Partnership groups to again ensure alignment around outcomes and how funding is allocated. Start in 3 to 6 months
- Chairs of all the 6 regions would meet regularly with the Cabinet Secretary, nominated leaders from the four opposition parties, a senior business lead from the private sector, representative from DWP and the Chair of DYW together with SOLACE. Start in 3 to 6 months
- Create a single set of outcome metrics to measure the effectiveness of the Young Person Guarantee. Like the execution of a corporate strategy, have a cascade system across the 6 regions that provides a single source of the truth to measure success. To date there are too many measures, applied inconsistently across various groups/bodies and duplication of measurement. Start in 3 to 6 months
- Engage with DWP to address the current data issue of not having full information for young people claiming Universal Credit. Make the investment to address this issue. Start immediately