Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education
Minister for Employability and Training
We are pleased to present the third annual report on progress of the Developing the Young Workforce ( DYW) seven year programme to reduce youth unemployment.
During 2017 there has been much change, particularly at political level, locally, nationally and internationally. What does remain constant, however, is the Scottish Government’s absolute prioritisation of education and our on-going commitment to developing young people who have the right skills and qualifications needed to succeed in the labour market.
We are now at the halfway point of our 7 year programme and are delighted to report the achievement of the programme’s headline target, to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021, four years ahead of schedule.
We are determined to build on this progress. It is important that we pause to take stock and consider the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead, and how we can continue to maintain momentum and drive forward further progress. This is particularly timely since the economic conditions have changed significantly since the programme started and are likely to continue to change.
We are sure you will all recognise the tremendous amount of progress which is being made with the DYW agenda. This progress is due to a concerted, sustained partnership effort between the Scottish Government, local government and many other partners across the education and training system, as well as Scotland's employers.
We would like to thank our partners, including COSLA with whom we jointly lead the programme, for the energy and enthusiasm with which they are implementing Developing the Young Workforce. It is through this Local Authority support that we have seen the establishment of the national DYW Leads network, which acts as a hub to support capacity building across the system.
We are particularly pleased with the range of options now available for young people in school, including Skills Development Scotland’s ( SDS) expansion of the Foundation Apprenticeship. We have completed the establishment of 21 employer-led DYW Regional Groups, covering the breadth of the country. We have established a Career Education Standard 3-18 ( CES); a Work Placement Standard ( WPS); and Guidance on School-Employer Partnerships, all of which will help support employer engagement in schools.
Turning to the next half of the programme, our attention will focus on ensuring DYW is fully embedded within the curriculum and across the wider system.
To help emphasise this, we recognise that DYW sits alongside GIRFEC  and Curriculum for Excellence, as part of the three interrelated drivers of our wider ambitions for Scottish education. These programmes work alongside the recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access’ report ‘Blueprint for Fairness’ to ensure that every child, no matter their background, has an equal chance to realise their full potential.
In June, the Scottish Government published proposals for the reform of Education Governance. At the heart of this reform is a simple, powerful premise: that the best decisions about a child’s education are taken by the people who know that child best.
The decisions that shape the education of young people will be made in classrooms, schools and learning establishments, by people working with those young people, their parents and communities. And we recognise that if schools are to lead, they must be supported to do so. The new support structure will be made up of three key pillars:
- Enhanced career and development opportunities for teachers;
- Improvement services delivered through new Regional Improvement Collaboratives; and
- Support services from local authorities.
On the Regional Improvement Collaboratives in particular, we are keen to ensure that these develop in partnership with others, and we recognise that many stakeholders have a role to play in this.
Sitting alongside this, we have established the new Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, which held its first meeting on 13 December. The new Board brings together the four skills and enterprise agencies: Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, alongside a new South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. The Board will bring a renewed focus on system alignment to maximise the impact of our considerable investment in skills and enterprise and drive a changed approach to increase productivity and drive inclusive economic growth in Scotland.
Separately, we are building on our approach to DYW to take forward a review of the 15-24 learner journey. The review is examining the efficiency and effectiveness of progression for 15-24 year olds through the education system; and considers our tertiary education system from the perspective of what our society and our economy need, in terms of the balance of skills and qualifications. The aim is to support young people to make and sustain positive choices and to ensure that our investment matches these ambitions as efficiently as possible.
Finally, we have recently launched our STEM strategy, which sets out our vision of a Scotland where everyone is encouraged and supported to develop their STEM capability throughout their lives, in order to grow STEM literacy in society and to drive economic impact.
We look forward to continued engagement with young people to help further the promotion of our DYW ambition. We recognise the energy and commitment invested by all those pursuing DYW at the local, regional and national level. In the year ahead, the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People, we look forward to showcasing the personalities, talents and achievements of Scotland’s young people.
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
Minister for Employability and Training