beta

You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Research Publication

The life chances of young people in Scotland: evidence review

Published: 3 Jul 2017
Part of:
Children and families, Equality and rights, Research
ISBN:
9781788510721

Evidence review commissioned by the First Minister's Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality.

80 page PDF

1.2MB

80 page PDF

1.2MB

Contents
The life chances of young people in Scotland: evidence review
Life chances for young people in Scotland

80 page PDF

1.2MB

Life chances for young people in Scotland

Poverty, financial capability and wealth

The poverty rate for young adults in Scotland was higher in 2014/15 than a decade ago. Younger households are overrepresented in the least wealthy households.

Poverty and income

The rate of relative poverty [i] (after housing costs ( AHC)) for those aged 16-29 in Scotland was higher than for other groups of adults. The poverty rate for young adults was similar in 2015/16 than a decade ago, while for children and pensioners', poverty rates fell in this time period. Figure 1 shows the poverty rate for these five age groups, comparing the three years to 2015/16 with the three years to 2005/06.

Figure 1: Relative poverty rate AHC by age, 2003/04-2005/06 and 2013/14-2015/16, Scotland

Figure 1: Relative poverty rate AHC by age, 2003/04-2005/06 and 2013/14-2015/16, Scotland

Source: Scottish Government analysis of the Family Resources Survey

Young adults are entitled to lower payments and less support in the UK welfare system than older adults, and their entitlement is often complex and difficult to understand. This is based on the assumption that young adults are more likely to live with, and be supported by, their parents. However, some young adults may not have this avenue of support, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Financial capability, debt and credit

Young adults are less likely to report that they manage well financially than older adults and are more likely to report having no savings. [10](1) Figures from the Student Loans Company show that the average amount of debt [ii] accumulated by Scottish graduates increased 12% over the year to 2016, and 43% since 2011. [11]{( SLC), 2016 #91}{( SLC), 2016 #91} (1)Citizen's Advice Scotland found in 2008 that, although young citizen's advice bureau clients held a lower level of debt than other age groups, the average level of debt for young adults had nearly doubled since 2004, and increased twice as fast as all other age groups. The Financial Conduct Authority found that age could be a barrier to credit in the UK, as younger people were yet to build a credit history. [12](1)

Wealth

There is evidence that wealth has been distributed away from younger people in the UK. Much of the changes in wealth distribution across generations are driven by a reduction in house ownership among young adults.

Analysis of Scottish data from the Wealth and Assets survey shows that younger households had much lower median wealth than older age groups. [13](1) This reflects the fact that younger people have had less time to accumulate wealth, and also that they tend to have lower earnings as they are more likely to be in entry level jobs. A key question is whether young adults' lower wealth is solely because of their life stage, and therefore something to be expected, or an indicator of intergenerational inequality.

Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies ( IFS) suggests that wealth has been significantly distributed away from younger people in the UK. [14](2016) Figure 2 compares median net household wealth per adult for those born in different decades. It shows that those born in the early 1980s have significantly less wealth than those born in the previous decade did at around the same age. In their early 30s, the early 1980s cohort had average household wealth per adult of £27,000 - about half the average wealth holdings of the 1970s cohort at around the same age (£53,000). [14]

Figure 2: Median net household wealth per adult by age, for people born in different decades ( UK) [14]

Figure 2: Median net household wealth per adult by age, for people born in different decades (UK)

Source: IFS, The Economic Circumstances of Different Generations: The Latest Picture

The IFS suggest that much of the change in wealth distribution across generations has been driven by a reduction in house ownership among young adults. [14] Figure 3 shows that the homeownership rate at age 30 of those born in the early 1980s in the UK is substantially lower than for any other post-war cohort at the same age. [14]

Figure 3: Homeownership by age, for people born in different decades ( UK) [14]

Figure 3: Homeownership by age, for people born in different decades (UK)

Source: IFS, The Economic Circumstances of Different Generations: The Latest Picture

Likewise, the Commission on Intergenerational Equality found that a 'baby boomer' (born 1946-1965) at age 30 was 50% more likely to own their own home than a 'millennial' (born 1981-2000) at the same age. [15]

Housing circumstances

There has been a shift towards young adults (under 35) living in the private rented sector or with their parents rather than buying a house. Barriers to the housing market include larger deposit requirements, rising house prices, low pay and insecure work.

Living arrangements

Figure 4: Living arrangements for people aged 20 to 34, Scotland, 2011 [1]

Figure 4: Living arrangements for people aged 20 to 34, Scotland, 2011

The section on housing circumstances focuses on a wider age range of young adults (under age 35) in recognition that the transition from the parental home to an independent household extends beyond age 24 for many. The 2011 Census showed that most of those aged 20-34 were living independently (as a couple, a lone parent or in a one person household), while just over a quarter were still living as non-dependent children with their parents - see Figure 4 above. Those aged 20 were mostly living with their parents or in all full-time student households/ educational establishments. As age increases, there is an increase in the proportion of young adults living as a couple, a lone parent or in a one person household, until around 9 in 10 are living independently at age 34 - see Figure 5.

(2015)Figure 5: Living arrangements for people aged 20 to 34 by age, Scotland, 2011 [1]

(2015)Figure 5: Living arrangements for people aged 20 to 34 by age, Scotland, 2011

Source: NRS, Household composition for specific groups of people in Scotland, Census 2011

Analysis of census data also shows that, over the decade from 2001 to 2011, those aged 20-34 were less likely to be living with a partner or on their own, and more likely to be living with their parents or in multi-adult households ( Figure 6). [1](2014)

Compared with previous generations, it has become more common for young adults to live independently in early adulthood and cohabitation has increased. [5] This has been part of a much wider trend (across all age groups) towards a larger number of smaller households. Research suggests that young adults' reasons for leaving home are less associated with family formation than in the past, but also that they are more likely to return to the family home at a later stage. [5, 16]

Figure 6: Living arrangements of young adults (20-34) in the 2001 and 2011 Census [1]

Figure 6: Living arrangements of young adults (20-34) in the 2001 and 2011 Census

Source: NRS, Household composition for specific groups of people in Scotland, Scotland's Census

Tenure

The proportion of younger households (with an age 16 to 34 highest income householder) that live in the private rented sector has increased substantially since 1999, to the extent that this is now the most common tenure for these households.[10] There has been a corresponding large decrease since 2003 in the percentage of younger households owning with a mortgage - see Figure 7. [10] Explanations for this shift include the increase in house prices in Scotland from 2002 to 2008; thereafter, the financial crisis in 2008, which led to a sharp fall in high loan-to-value mortgage lending, has meant that younger households have faced larger deposit requirements in order to access mortgage finance. [10](2016)

Figure 7: Households with a highest income earner between 16-34 years by tenure [10]

Figure 7: Households with a highest income earner between 16-34 years by tenure

Source: Scottish Government, Scotland's People Annual Report: Results from the 2015 Scottish Household Survey

Affordability of housing

Figure 8 highlights a dramatic increase between 1996 and 2009 in the level of deposit required as a proportion of income for first time buyers in Scotland. The level of deposit required has fallen somewhat since 2009 to around 50% of income in 2016. In contrast, interest payments as a percentage of income have been relatively stable over this period.

Figure 8: Affordability Measures for First-Time Buyers in Scotland

Figure 8: Affordability Measures for First-Time Buyers in Scotland

Source: Scottish Government analysis of CML data. Figures are approximate estimates due to limitations in the detail of the source data. For illustrative use only.

The cost of housing as a proportion of income in the private rented sector was similar in 2014/15 to 2004/05, although increased in the years following the recession. [17] However, as Figure 9 underlines, the cost of housing as a proportion of income for those who own with a mortgage is substantially lower than for those in the private rented sector. Moreover, the cost of housing as a proportion of income for those who own with a mortgage declined during the decade to 2014/15; this reflects falls in mortgage interest rates, resulting in lower mortgage payments. [17] This suggests that the size of deposit required has been the primary barrier to owner-occupation rather than the cost of servicing a mortgage. It is also suggested that low pay, insecure work and lack of wealth have exacerbated this barrier to the housing market for younger households. [18]

Figure 9: Ratio of Housing Costs to Income (median) by tenure [17]

Figure 9: Ratio of Housing Costs to Income (median) by tenure

Source: Scottish Government, Housing and Regeneration Outcomes Framework - Performance Indicator

Additionally, research using qualitative interviews with key housing policy and practice actors found that youth unemployment and parental support substantially determine an individual's housing 'success'. [19] The private rental sector was seen as unaffordable for many young adults, particularly in areas with thriving labour markets such as Aberdeen and Edinburgh. [6] While the flexibility of private renting is attractive to some groups, problems of affordability persist and the insecurity is problematic for others (e.g. parents).[6] Low-income households, especially those reliant on social security benefits, are especially vulnerable in the private rental sector. Moreover, recent research has found a continued long-term preference for homeownership among young adults in Scotland; while private renting is often regarded negatively due to a lack of tenure security. [6]

Access to housing is also a factor affecting young adults' ability to live independently of parents and in appropriate accommodation. Homelessness figures suggest that young adults in particular may have difficulty accessing appropriate accommodation: younger age groups are over-represented in homelessness figures. [20] There were 7,762 homeless young adult households in 2015/16 - 28% of all homeless households. [20] Nevertheless, youth homelessness has been falling in recent years, and decreased by 9% between 2014/15 and 2015/16. The rate of youth homelessness in 2015/16 was 12.6 per 1000 young adults. [20]

Employment and labour market outcomes

Unemployment and NEET

Youth employment rates in Scotland compare relatively well internationally. However, there is higher unemployment among young adults than older age groups, and young adults were particularly impacted by the recession.

There is a considerable body of evidence to suggest that being unemployed when young leads to a higher likelihood of long-term 'scarring' in later life in terms of pay, high unemployment, fewer life chances and poorer health. [21, 22] These effects seem to be stronger for younger people and those with less education. The research shows that scarring can also be caused by periods of poor quality or precarious work. [21, 23] The literature also highlights that young adults' experiences of employment have changed in recent years. Working lives are commonly beginning later as young people stay in education for longer. Early working lives are also more fragmented with young adults having a variety of jobs before settling into long-term careers. Additionally, there are concerns about the precarious nature of the work that many young adults undertake. [24]

Youth employment and unemployment rates [iii] for 15-24 year olds in Scotland compare relatively well to comparator countries and the UK as a whole, as Figures 10 and 11 show.

Figure 10: Youth employment rate (age 15-24) - international comparison

Figure 10: Youth employment rate (age 15-24) – international comparison

Source: Eurostat/ OECD

Figure 11: Youth unemployment rate (age 15-24) - international comparison

Figure 11: Youth unemployment rate (age 15-24) – international comparison

Source: Eurostat/ OECD

Although in Scotland the main focus is on the 16-29 year old age band, Figure 12 shows that the rate of young people aged 18-24 not in training, education or employment ( NEET) in Scotland is fairly high relative to comparator countries. It should be borne in mind when interpreting these international comparisons that there are differences between European school systems and the compulsory school leaving age is higher in many of these countries (including the rest of the UK).

Figure 12: Rate of 18-24 year olds not in employment, education or training - International comparison

Figure 12: Rate of 18-24 year olds not in employment, education or training – International comparison

Source: Eurostat

Based on the Annual Population Survey there were 596,000 16-24 year olds in Scotland in 2016. Of these, 332,000 were in employment (86,000 of these were also in full time education), 46,000 were unemployed (16,000 of these were in full time education), and 255,000 (43%) were enrolled in full-time education overall. [25]

As Figure 13 shows, unemployment rates for young adults in Scotland have been consistently higher than those for other age groups, but have also seen the largest decreases in the last few years. This may be partly because young people are more likely to be in education and seeking flexible part-time work, which may be harder to find. [26]

Figure 13: Unemployment rate in Scotland by age groups

Figure 13: Unemployment rate in Scotland by age groups

Source: APS

Younger workers saw the main impact of the recession: their employment rates reduced between 2008 and 2014 but recovered slightly in 2015, as seen in Figure 14. In contrast, employment rates for workers aged 50-64 have increased through the recovery. Younger workers have generally moved from employment and (to a lesser extent) unemployment into inactivity (mainly into further or higher education). [iv]

Figure 14: Employment Rate in Scotland by Age Groups

Figure 14: Employment Rate in Scotland by Age Groups

Source: APS

In 2015, there were 23,000 16-19 year olds who were not in employment, education or training ( NEET) (9.6% of the total age 16-19 population). [27] Overall the NEET rate has declined since 2004. As Figure 15 shows, the NEET rate has decreased substantially for young people aged 16-17 in the last 10 years, while remaining relatively constant for those aged 18-19. This is due to more young people choosing to stay on at school.

Figure 15: NEET Rates in Scotland by Age

Figure 15: NEET Rates in Scotland by Age

Source: APS

Analysis of Census data found that in 2011, of those 16 to 19 year olds who were NEET (36,700), around two thirds (67%) were unemployed and the remainder were economically inactive. [28] Over one in five (22%) young people in the NEET group suffered from a limiting long-term illness. Additionally, around 7 in 10 (72%) of those who were NEET fell into the elementary occupations or never worked categories - and this group made up a tenth of Scotland's 16-19 year old population. [28]

Employment quality

Young people are more likely to experience low quality employment, including low pay and insecure work. Being better qualified is less of a guarantee of better-paid work than in the past.

A range of wider labour market changes have been identified as underlying drivers of inequality, including:

  • Globalisation leading to skilled jobs being transferred to countries;
  • Substantial technological change has led to the automation of production systems that were previously labour intensive. [29, 30]

In Scotland, while the employment rate has recovered since the recession, there have been changes in the type of work available in the labour market. There has been a rise in part time employment since the recession (up around 9% since 2007), along with an increase in the number of people who say the reason they are working part-time is that they cannot find a full-time job. [26] There have also been increases in self-employment (around 25% since 2007) and underemployment [v] since the recession (although levels of underemployment have been falling back towards pre-recession levels). [26, 31, 32] Insecure forms of employment have also been highlighted as an issue, and there has been an increase in the number of people on zero-hour contracts in Scotland (from 1.8% of the workforce in 2013 to 2.2% in 2015). [32] Additionally, pay in Scotland and the UK has fallen in real terms over recent years. [32]

Many of these issues are of particular salience for young adults' employment. At the UK level, 7.5% of young adults in employment were on zero hour contracts in October to December 2016 - more than double the proportion of any other age group and around a third of all people on zero hour contracts. [33] While it is difficult to untangle levels of involuntary part time/flexible working, high underemployment 2 rates for young adults (see Figure 16 below) suggest that experiences of part time and zero hours contracts may be by necessity rather than choice.

Figure 16: Underemployment Rate in Scotland by Age

Figure 16: Underemployment Rate in Scotland by Age

Source: APS

The literature also refers to an increase in 'churning' or cycling between low paid, short term work and unemployment, which is difficult to identify in Scottish data. [34, 35] One study found that young adults had a very high level of transitions out of low paid work into unemployment compared to other age bands, reflecting the high rates of temporary work undertaken by young people while they build their skills and search for permanent work opportunities. [35]

Low pay

There is a significant inequality in pay with regards to age. A higher proportion of young adults earn less than the Living Wage compared to older adults (53% of 18-24 year olds compared to 20% of all adults in 2016). [36] The proportion of under 30s in low pay in the UK has continued to increase while the level has fallen among older workers. [37] Analysis by the Resolution Foundation suggests that there are large numbers of employees in the UK labour market who are unable to progress out of low pay (in 2012, 28% of low paid employees were stuck on low pay for the previous decade). [38] Taken together this suggests that some young adults may find it difficult to progress from low pay work.

Labour market insecurity is also related to occupation and sector. Young adults in the UK are overrepresented in low wage sectors such as retail and food services, and underrepresented in higher paid professions such as professional and technical occupations and education. There are also often limited progression opportunities in these sectors. [39] Sectors such as construction; transport & communication; and distribution, hotels & restaurants rapidly reduced their employment of young people in the UK between 2004 and 2015. [40] Young adults are more exposed to economic instability and industry changes. [40] Sutherland and colleagues found that, in general, young people are under-represented within growth sectors in the Scottish economy. The only sectors they were over-represented in were food and drink (where young adults accounted for 14% of employment) and tourism (where they account for 34% of employees). [41]

While it remains the case that, all else being equal, the higher a person's qualifications the lower the likelihood that they will be unemployed or low paid, Figure 17 shows that over the ten years to 2013 the average level of qualifications has improved and low paid employees are more likely to be better qualified. [42] This points to a further problem for today's young adults: being better qualified is less of a guarantee of better-paid work than in the past. A review by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation ( JRF) also found that although, on average, young adults today will have higher qualifications than previous generations, there is a risk that those with low or no qualifications will be more disadvantaged than previous generations as the demand for skills increases. [42]

Figure 17: Qualification levels of low paid people in Scotland [42]

Figure 17: Qualification levels of low paid people in Scotland

Source: JRF, Understanding age and the labour market

Evidence suggests that it is less advantaged young people, especially those with low educational attainment, who are more likely to experience low paid, precarious work, and 'churn' between this and unemployment. Experts distinguish between those with diverse resources who can access stable employment or choose flexible patterns temporarily, and those with few resources whose careers are defined by poor work. [29]

Labour market outcomes: life stage or intergenerational inequality?

This analysis suggests that young adults today struggle in the labour market in spite of being the most highly educated generation yet. Unemployment is generally higher among young adults than prime age adults, and those who do work tend to have poorer-quality jobs and are more likely to be on temporary contracts or to earn low wages than older workers. Are these issues young adults face because of their life stage, and therefore something to be expected, or an indicator of intergenerational inequality?

There is evidence to suggest that a structural level change is happening, where young adults today are experiencing exclusion from the labour market in a way that is new to the current generation. Analysis by the IFS shows that those born in the 1980s are the first post-war cohort in the UK to start their working lives earning no more than the previous. [14] While the JRF found that young adults in the UK were more disadvantaged in the labour market than previous generations. [42] JRF's report highlighted, in terms of low pay and job quality, the position of young people worsened significantly in recent years, especially for those least qualified. Evidence showed that young people in employment were disproportionately likely to be working in low pay sectors - notably retail and accommodation. Furthermore, younger people were more likely to be in insecure employment, employed part-time on non-standard contracts, and with less access to training. As a result, they were more vulnerable to unemployment than those in mid-life. Moreover, underemployment was widespread among younger workers, in terms of working fewer hours and underuse of skills. [42]

Education and training

School education

Levels of attainment of school leavers have generally been improving in Scotland. Results for the broad general education phase declined slightly in the most recent surveys.

While we have seen that education is less of a guarantee of quality employment than it once was, the chances of a young person being in work increase with the level of qualification they hold. Qualifications also give individuals higher wages than workers with few or no qualifications, with increasing returns as the level of qualification increases. [43]

In 2014/15, 60% of school leavers left with one or more passes at Higher or Advanced Higher ( SCQF level 6 or better) while 2% attained no passes at SCQF level 3 or better. [44] The proportion leaving with passes at Higher or Advanced Higher has increased over the last five years (see Figure 18 below).

Figure 18: Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF level at which one or more passes were achieved, 2010/11 to 2014/15 [44]

Figure 18: Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF level at which one or more passes were achieved, 2010/11 to 2014/15

Source: Scottish Government, Summary statistics for attainment, leaver destinations and healthy living, No.6: 2016 Edition

Data for the Broad General Education phase for 2016 and earlier can be obtained from the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy ( SSLN) - a nationally representative sample survey of pupils in P4, P7 and S2. SSLN assesses pupils' performance in numeracy and literacy in alternate years against the standards set by CfE. The 2016 (literacy) and 2015 (numeracy) surveys showed that the majority of pupils are doing well in both areas, with the exception of pupils in S2 for numeracy. [45, 46] But they also showed that results declined slightly between 2012-2016 for literacy in some stages and 2013-2015 for numeracy in P4. [45, 46] Additionally, the Programme for International Student Assessment ( PISA) provides insight into how the performance of Scotland's young people in reading, maths and science compares internationally. In PISA 2015, the performance of fifteen year olds in Scotland was similar to the OECD average for all three subjects. [47] However, Scotland's overall performance compared to 2012 declined in science and reading, but was similar in maths. [47]

Fewer pupils are being excluded from school: the number of exclusions from primary schools fell by 42% from 6018 in 2006/07 to 3478 in 2014/15. Over the same time period, exclusions from secondary schools fell by 62% from 37,566 to 14,098. [48]

Post-school transitions

School staying on rates have generally been improving in Scotland. The proportion of school leavers in a 'positive destination' has been increasing. The vast majority of 16-19 year olds in Scotland are participating in education, training or employment.

For most young people S4 (age 16) is the last compulsory year of school, but the majority will choose to stay on and complete S5 and S6. For 2014/15 school leavers, almost two thirds (64%) left at the end of S6, a quarter (25%) left at the end of S5, and 11% left at the end of S4. The proportion of secondary pupils staying on at school between S4 and S5, and S5 and S6 has been steadily increasing. [44]

There are two main datasets focussing on young adults' transitions from school:

  • 'School leaver destinations' (the current National Indicator), published by the Scottish Government - a snapshot following up all school leavers in the year after they leave school. Primary destination information is gathered for young people identified as school leavers in the September after they leave school ('initial' destination) and again the following March ('follow-up' destination). [44]
  • The 'Annual Participation Measure' (first published in 2016), published by Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) - takes account of the activity of all 16-19 year olds over the course of a year. The participation classification of each individual is calculated by combining the number of days spent in each status between 1st April and 31st March. [49]

Firstly we present analysis of leaver destinations to provide a time series and explore the impact of stage of attainment on destinations. We then discuss analysis of the Participation Measure to give an overview of the activity of all 16 to 19 year olds.

In 2014/15, 92% of leavers were classed as being in a 'positive follow-up destination' [vi] , an increase from 85% in 2009/10.[44] The majority of leavers who enter higher education ( HE) remain at school until the end of S6. The nature of the destination changes as the attainment of leavers improves, with the likelihood of going on to a positive destination increasing (see Table 1). Those with one or more passes at SCQF level 6 or 7 are most likely to move into HE. Those with passes at SCQF level 3 or no passes are most likely to be in further education ( FE) or unemployed seeking. [44]

Table 1: Percentage of school leavers by highest SCQF level at which one or more passes were achieved and follow-up destination category, 2014/15 [44]

Follow-up Destination No passes at SCQF 3 or better SCQF level 3 SCQF level 4 SCQF level 5 SCQF level 6 SCQF level 7 Number of Leavers (%)
HE 0.6 0.0 0.4 2.3 49.1 84.1 19,268 (36.8%)
FE 20.1 24.5 36.1 41.6 17.9 4.3 12,269 (23.4%)
Training 11.1 12.8 9.3 3.8 0.7 0.2 1,436 (2.7%)
Employment 18.2 16.2 29.7 41.6 28.4 9.5 14,575 (27.8%)
Voluntary Work 1.2 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.4 0.7 238 (0.4%)
Activity Agreement 7.4 7.1 2.6 0.6 0.1 0.0 390 (0.7%)
Unemployed Seeking 23.0 25.9 16.1 7.4 2.4 0.9 2,977 (5.75)
Unemployed Not Seeking 15.7 10.9 4.3 1.5 0.6 0.2 858 (1.6%)
Unknown 2.7 1.9 1.1 0.9 0.4 0.1 326 (0.6%)
Positive Destinations 58.6 61.3 78.5 90.2 96.7 98.7 92.0%
Other Destinations 41.4 38.7 21.5 9.8 3.3 1.3 8.0%
All Leavers 1,092 883 5,774 13,052 21,704 9,832 52,337

Source: Scottish Government, Summary statistics for attainment, leaver destinations and healthy living, No.6: 2016 Edition

According to the Annual Participation Measure, 90% of the cohort of 222,580 young people aged 16 to 19 in Scotland were participating in education, training or employment in 2016. [49] The participation rate decreases with age, from 99% for 16 year olds to 82% for 19 year olds. The vast majority (91%) of 16 year olds are school pupils. [49] Across the whole cohort, 19% were reported with a HE status, 11% FE and 17% employment. The non-participating group accounted for 4% of the cohort and includes those reported as unemployed and seeking employment, as well as economically inactive and others not seeking employment (the proportion with an unconfirmed status was 6% [vii] ).

SDS conducted secondary cohort analysis of the 2012/13 school leaver cohort using available data in their shared dataset for this report, focussing on the impact of stage of school leaving. [viii] The analysis found that the timing of leaving school had a bigger impact upon destinations and participation as a young person's post-school journey developed than living in the most deprived areas of Scotland. They found that "statutory leavers" - those who leave school at the earliest opportunity - had more disrupted post-school transitions as they were less likely than those who stay at school longer to sustain outcomes. A lower proportion of statutory leavers entered education or employment at their initial stage of leaving, and they were less likely to remain in post-school education and more likely to enter shorter term training than those who stay at school longer.

College

Slightly under a quarter (23.4%) of school leavers moved into further education ( FE) in 2014/15, which is similar to previous years (24.6% in 2010/2011).[44] However, this figure does not include all college activity. The 'Employment' destination in Table 1 includes young people undertaking training in employment through national training programmes such as Modern Apprenticeships, which are delivered in colleges, while the ' HE' destination includes young people enrolled in HE at colleges. [ix] Across all ages, there has been a decrease of over 190,000 college enrolments from 2007/08 to 2014-15; however, this trend is primarily explained by a shift from very short courses to more substantive programmes leading to recognised qualifications - as full-time equivalent numbers have remained similar. [50]

The proportion of students completing their course (successfully or partially successfully) and successfully completing their course increased between 2009-10 and 2014-15 (for both FE and HE qualifications). [51] In 2014/15 three quarters (75%) of those enrolled on full-time recognised FE qualifications and 83% of those enrolled on full-time recognised HE qualifications completed their courses (successfully or partially successfully). Age has a large impact on successful completion: there is a 10.4 percentage point difference in successful completion between those under 18 years old and those over the age of 41 ( Table 2). [52]

Table 2: College enrolments by age group for courses lasting 160 hours or more in 2014-15 [52]


Completed Successful Completed partial success Further Withdrawal Early withdrawal Total
Age % N % N % N % N N
Under 18 63.8 20,502 15.1 4,836 15.2 4,893 5.9 1,889 32,120
18-20 70.2 33,694 12.5 5,993 12.5 6,004 4.9 2,337 48,028
21-24 70.0 14,456 11.3 2,331 12.4 2,563 6.3 1,298 20,648
25 & over 73.1 27,789 9.6 3,677 10.9 4,162 6.3 2,411 38,039

Source: Scottish Funding Council, Learning for All: Measures of Success, 2016

Table 3 shows that the majority of age 16-24 qualifiers from college went on to further study/training. [53] Scottish Funding Council note that, when considering college destinations it is important to understand that: "many of the courses students have qualified from - although courses in their own right - are part of a larger journey preparing the student to progress through levels until they reach the appropriate exit point in their learning." [53]

Table 3: 16-24 year old college leaver destinations, all qualifiers, 2013-14/2014-15 [53]

Destination
2013-14 2014-15
f/t further study, training or research 65.7% 68.3%
p/t further study, training or research 1.0% 0.3%
Working f/t* 13.5% 11.3%
Working p/t 3.5% 3.3%
Due to start a job by the 31 st March 0.1% 0.1%
Unemployed and looking for work 2.8% 2.7%
Temporarily sick or unable to work/looking after home or family 0.4% 0.4%
Not employed but not looking for employment, further study/ training 0.3% 0.3%
Taking time out in order to travel 0.2% 0.2%
Unconfirmed 12.5% 13.1%

Source: Scottish Funding Council, College Leaver Destinations 2014-15

*Working full-time or part-time includes apprenticeships, self-employed/freelance, voluntary or other unpaid work, developing a professional portfolio/creative practice or on an internship.

University

Slightly over a third of school leavers moved into HE in 2014/15 (36.8%). The majority of school leavers who go on to HE do so at university.

It is possible for students to 'articulate' from HE at college to university: students may move from one- or two-year college-based HNC or HND courses to the later years of a university degree programme. There has been an increase in the number of students articulating from college with advanced standing, increasing from 3,099 in 2011/12 to 3,999 in 2014/15. [54] Most articulation with advanced standing (66% in 2014/15) is delivered through five institutions that act as regional 'hubs' for articulation from local colleges to university partners - the University of the West of Scotland, and Robert Gordon, Abertay, Napier and Glasgow Caledonian Universities. [54] The Sutton Trust suggest those articulating from college to university are disadvantaged in a number of ways: only half of those who enter a HN college course subsequently move on to a university degree programme; of students who articulate, only half receive full credit; and students who enter university with HN qualifications are more likely than others to drop out.[55]

The proportion of young (aged under 21) full-time university entrants in Scotland who do not continue in HE beyond their first year was 6.5% in 2014/15. Overall, the non-continuation rate for young entrants has declined over the last decade. [56]

Table 4: Destinations of full-time first degree leavers, Scotland HEPs 2013/14 & 2014/15 [60]

Destination 2013-14 2014-15
UK work 65% 13490 65% 13000
Overseas work 3% 675 3% 695
Combination of work and further study 5% 1140 6% 1145
Further study 16% 3345 17% 3420
Unemployed 6% 1160 5% 965
Other 4% 930 4% 840
Total of known destination 100% 20740 100% 20065
Percentage in employment or further study 65% 90% 65% 91%
Unknown 3% 6660 3% 6895
Total 5% 27400 6% 26960

Source: HESA: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education in the United Kingdom for the academic year 2014/15

In 2014/15, there were 20,065 full-time first degree leavers whose destinations were known, 65% were in UK employment and 5% were unemployed ( Table 4). Of the full-time first degree leavers who were employed in the UK, 72% were in posts classified as Professional employment (73% in 2013/14). The remaining 28% were working in occupational groups classed as non-professional. [57]

Modern Apprenticeships

At the policy level there is a strong focus on under 25s in terms of Scotland's publicly funded apprenticeships. There were 20,506 modern apprenticeship ( MA) starts aged 16-24 in 2015/16 (79% of the total): 12,837 were aged 16-19 and 7,669 were aged 20-24. [58] Sixty four per cent of 16-24 year old starts were at Level 3 ( SCQF Level 6/7) and above (Level 2 is equivalent to SCQF Level 5). The top four framework groupings with the highest volume of starts have remained the same each year since 2012/13: Construction & Related; Sport, Health & Social Care; Hospitality & Tourism; Retail & Customer Service. [58]

The evidence available suggests MAs offer a route to sustainable employment, although the focus is on short term outcomes [x] . SDS has undertaken studies in 2012 and 2016 following up MAs (using telephone surveys) around six months after they left their apprenticeship. [59] In 2016 91% of MAs who completed their apprenticeship were in work around six months later. Two-thirds (67%) of completers were employed with the same employer. The majority of all leavers (85%), including non-completers, were in work 6 months after leaving, with nine in ten (90%) in either work or education. The likelihood of being in work after leaving a MA increases with the age of the apprentice and the level of the apprenticeship. The majority of MAs (87%) were satisfied with their apprenticeship overall. [59]

Health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing status in young adults

Young adults generally report high levels of physical health and general wellbeing. However, the analysis suggests some issues around mental health.

In the Scottish Health Survey 2015, young adults generally reported good physical health.[60] As would be expected, levels of 'good' or 'very good' self-assessed health decrease as age increases, while the prevalence of those reporting limiting longstanding illnesses increases markedly with age. The proportion of young adults reporting a limiting longstanding illness did rise from 10% to 14% between 2008-11 (combined) and 2012-15 (combined) [xi] . Around 4 in 10 young adults were overweight (42%, including 16% who were obese), which is lower than for adults in general (65% of adults were overweight, including 29% who were obese). [60]

NHS Health Scotland published analysis of mental health indicators for all adults in 2012. They summed up the picture over the last decade as broadly stable, with a promising level of positive change and only a small, but important, number of negative trends. [61]

Turning to young adults, self-reported data in the Scottish Health Survey shows that life satisfaction scores were similar to those for all adults, while mean wellbeing scores [xii] were slightly lower than for older age groups. As Table 5 shows, self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and ever having attempted suicide were similar to all adults for 2012-15. However, the proportion of young adults who self-reported ever having self-harmed was much higher than for older age groups.

Table 5: Anxiety and depression scores, attempted suicide and deliberate self-harm, 2012-2015 combined, by age and sex


Age
Mental health problem 16-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65-74 75+ Total
Depression symptom score







0 77 80 82 80 80 87 90 82
1 14 11 7 9 10 6 4 9
2 or more symptoms 8 8 11 11 10 7 6 9
Anxiety symptom score







0 72 75 76 78 77 84 87 78
1 16 14 14 10 10 7 8 12
2 or more symptoms 12 11 10 12 13 9 5 11
Suicide attempts







No 94 94 93 92 96 98 99 95
Yes 6 6 7 8 4 2 1 5
Deliberate self-harm







No 82 92 92 96 98 99 100 94
Yes 18 8 8 4 2 1 0 6

Source: Scottish Government, The Scottish Health Survey 2015: Volume 1: Main Report

There also appear to have been steeper increases between 2008-11 and 2012-15 in the proportions of young adults reporting two or more symptoms of depression

(from 4% to 8%) and anxiety (from 6% to 12%), than for all adults. The level of self-reported self-harm among young adults has also increased since 2008-11 (from 5%). [xiii]

There is evidence to suggest that psychological distress has an impact on social mobility. In an analysis using the West of Scotland cohort, Sweeting et al found that poor mental health at age 18 was associated with disadvantaged socio-economic position at age 24, and poor mental health at age 24 was associated with disadvantaged socio-economic position at age 30. [62] Therefore, poor mental health in early adulthood may have an impact on future life chances.

Health and wellbeing status in early adolescence

In general, young people report high levels of health and wellbeing in early adolescence, although scores on a number of indicators decline with age between 11 and 15. Scotland's relative performance internationally also weakens throughout early adolescence across many indicators of wellbeing.

Much of the evidence for adolescents' health and wellbeing comes from the cross-national Health Behaviour in School-aged Children ( HBSC) survey, which surveys 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds' every four years. [63] In the 2014 survey, the majority of young people report good (56%) or excellent (26%) health. The proportion reporting excellent health has increased since 2010 (from 21%). However, fewer than one in 5 (18%) met government physical activity guidelines, while almost two thirds (64%) of young people watched television for two or more hours every day during the school week. [63] The Scottish Health Survey found that just over one in four (28%) children were at risk of being overweight in 2015, with 15% at risk of obesity. [60]

HBSC found that most young people in Scotland reported high life satisfaction (87%). However, when asked how often they felt confident, less than one in five (16%) adolescents in Scotland answered "always"; this has declined in each survey since 2002. Life satisfaction and self-confidence also decline between age 11 and 15 in Scotland. [63]

NHS Health Scotland also developed a set of mental health indicators for children and young people (aged 17 and under) covering mental wellbeing and mental health problems. [64] They reported on them in 2013, concluding that the picture over the last decade was one of broad improvement for over half of the mental health outcome measures analysed and general stability over time for most others. However, the majority of mental wellbeing measures deteriorated with age (during early adolescence), while some mental health problems increased with age. [64]

In most cases, the reported health and wellbeing of Scotland's young people places them in the middle to lower end of the HBSC country rankings. Self-rated health, physical activity and sedentary behaviour for early adolescents in Scotland are all below HBSC average; whereas life satisfaction and self-confidence are all considered about average compared with other countries. [65]

There is a well-established evidence base that shows that children who are exposed to an excessive number of harmful or distressing experiences - or 'Adverse Childhood Experiences' (' ACEs') - are more likely to have mental health problems and physical ill-health in adulthood. [66] ACEs refer to stressful events occurring in childhood (between 0 to 18 years) including: being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional) or neglect (physical and emotional); and growing-up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems, mental health conditions, domestic violence or criminal behaviour resulting in incarceration. ACEs have been found to be associated with poorer mental wellbeing, mental illness and suicide. They have been found to lead to a wider range of poorer outcomes including in health, education, employment and crime. [66]

'Risky' health behaviours in young adults

Use of tobacco and alcohol has declined in recent years among young adults and early adolescents. However, for drinking, drug use and risky sexual behaviours in early adolescence Scotland performs worse than the international average. Rates of teenage pregnancy are declining, although are still high internationally.

Levels of smoking and alcohol consumption among young adults have decreased in recent years. The Scottish Health Survey found that just over one in five young adults were current smokers in 2015. Smoking prevalence among 16-24 year olds was lower than for those aged 25-54, and a higher proportion of young adults reported that they had never smoked/smoked regularly ( Figure 19). [60]

Figure 19: Cigarette smoking status by age group, 2015 [60]

Figure 19: Cigarette smoking status by age group, 2015

Source: Scottish Government, The Scottish Health Survey 2015: Volume 1: Main Report

In 2015, men consumed a mean of 17.2 units of alcohol per week compared with 8.7 units for women. Among men, average consumption was highest in the 55-64 (20.6 units) and 16-24 (18.9 units) age groups, while for women consumption was highest for those aged 16-24 (10.8 units). [60] Of those who had consumed alcohol in the last week, young adults drank more on average than other age groups on their heaviest drinking day, and were one of the age groups most likely to 'binge' drink (34% of young men and 19% of young women drank more 8/6 units on their heaviest drinking day). Analysing weekly mean unit consumption and the number of days on which alcohol was consumed in the past week, suggest that younger drinkers tend to consume larger quantities in fewer drinking sessions. [60]

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey collects self-reported data on illicit drug use. Over a quarter (28%) of 16-24 year-olds reported being offered an illicit drug in the last year, compared to 12% of 25-44 year-olds. There has been a decrease in the number of 16-24 year-olds reporting being offered an illicit drug in the last year between 2008/09 and 2014/15. Of the 6% of adults who reported taking any drugs in the last year, eight in ten had taken cannabis. [67]

'Risky' health behaviours in early adolescence

Smoking, drinking, drug taking and underage sex are frequently initiated in the teenage years, with potentially longer term consequences on a range of issues. The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey ( SALSUS) collects data on substance using behaviour among a nationally representative sample of S2 (age 13) and S4 (age 15) pupils in Scotland. The use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs has been steadily decreasing among young people in Scotland for a number of years, and tobacco and alcohol use are at the lowest levels since the SALSUS survey began (1990). In the 2015 survey, 2% of 13 year olds and 7% of 15 year olds smoked regularly. Forty five per cent of 13 year olds who had ever had an alcoholic drink had been drunk at least once, compared with 68% of 15 year olds. The vast majority of 15 and 13 year olds reported never using drugs (81% and 95% respectively). [68]

Between the 2010 and 2014 HBSC surveys, there was a decline in the proportion of 15-year old girls that reported having had sex (from 35% to 27%). Use of contraception is a marker for risk behaviour. Of those 15-year olds who report having had sexual intercourse, over half (58%) used a condom (with or without the contraceptive pill) on the last occasion, but this represents a decrease from 72% in 2010. Almost one third (29%) report using neither a condom nor birth control pills at last intercourse, an increase from 19% in 2010. [63] Teenage pregnancy rates in all age groups have shown a decline in recent years, although Scotland still remains relatively high internationally. [69, 70]

In international comparison, prevalence of smoking in Scotland is about average, whilst Scotland performs below average on drinking, drug use and risky sexual behaviours in HBSC. In particular, Scotland remains one of the countries with the highest prevalence of drunkenness (being drunk more than once) at age 15 among HBSC countries. [63]

Youth offending and crime victimisation

Youth offending rates have declined significantly since 2006. However, offenders under the age of 21 had the highest rate of reconviction and the highest average number of reconvictions of all age groups.

Youth offending data also provides an indication of adolescent wellbeing. Across all indicators [xiv] in Scotland, youth offending rates have declined significantly since 2006. The number of children referred to the Children's Reporter on offence grounds reduced by 82% from 16,229 in 2006-07 to 2891 in 2014-15. [71] The average number of under 18s in custody has decreased by 72% from 223 in 2006 to 62 in 2015; and, the average number of under 21s in custody has decreased by 56% from 1,020 in 2006 to 445 in 2015. [72]

Reconvictions analysis shows that, despite efforts to divert young people from the criminal justice system, offenders under the age of 21 had the highest rate of reconviction and the highest average number of reconvictions of all age groups. [73] Similarly, the risk of being a victim of any crime decreases with age. In 2014/15, one fifth (20%) of 16-24 year olds were at risk of being a victim of crime, compared with 7% for those aged 60 or over. [10]

Peer and family relationships in early adolescence

In early adolescence in Scotland, good parenting, peer support, liking school and classmate support are below the international average

Although the focus of this report is on adolescence and young adulthood, it is worth highlighting that young people's experiences of parenting and family relationships are underpinned by their experiences from their earliest days and throughout childhood. A well-established international literature underlines that attachment between the child and their parent/care-giver and the family environment in the early years are fundamental to the health and wellbeing of children and young people. [66] Aspects of the family environment such as clear and open communication between parents and children, emotionally close relationships within the family and spending time together with joint activities have been shown to be important. [66]

Data on peer and family relationships is only available for early adolescence (from the HBSC survey). Young people are more likely to find it easy to talk to their mother (82%) than to their father (66%) about things that really bother them. Easy communication with both parents declines with age. Overall, 62% of 11-15 year olds report high family support.

As family relationships change, adolescents begin to spend less time with parents and friendships become more important. Children who feel isolated from their friends are four times as likely to have low well-being as those who do not. Overall, 57% of 11-15 year olds report high levels of support from their peers. One in five (21%) young people in Scotland meet their friends every day after school before 8pm. Sixty one per cent of young people report daily contact with their friends using either the phone, texting, email, instant messenger or other social media. Scotland's young people are below the HBSC international average for peer support and about average for time spent with friends

Students who dislike school or do not feel connected to it are more inclined to fail academically, drop out and have mental health problems. Approximately one quarter of young people in Scotland (23%) report that they like school 'a lot', whilst 62% of young people report high classmate support. For both this proportion reduces with age. About four in 10 (41%) report that they feel 'some' or 'a lot' of pressure from schoolwork. This proportion increases steeply with age. Fourteen per cent of young people in Scotland report that they have been bullied at school at least twice a month in the past two months. The proportion of young people who reported being bullied increased between 2010 and 2014. For young people in Scotland liking school and classmate support is below the international average, whilst bullying levels are seen as average.


Contact

Email: Catriona Rooke, catriona.rooke@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG