Celebrating Skills for Life
A skilled workforce is the backbone of a strong economy, and Scotland’s economy has gone from strength to strength, despite the shadow of uncertainty cast by Brexit.
Our unemployment rate is at a record low, while growth in economic output and exports remain strong.
To continue to deliver a workforce that is empowered and confident enough to forge a career, we must provide opportunities for young people to prepare themselves for the world of work during their education.
Everyone is responsible for highlighting the variety of routes open to young people and celebrating their successes. There is no wrong pathway and everyone’s learner journey is different. SQA Results Day is a great opportunity to show this, something we have been highlighting on social media with #MyLearnerJourney.
More young people are benefitting from various high quality work based learning opportunities. Year-on-year, the number of school leavers attaining vocational qualifications at SCQF 5 and above is increasing – from 7.3% in 2013/14 to 14.8% in 2017/18, thanks to schools working with colleges, employers and other partners to make these accessible.
We are working to increase collaboration between industry and education to broaden options and create new pathways that give young people skills in line with what employers look for. Pathways like the brewing Modern Apprenticeship (MA) developed by Skills Development Scotland in collaboration with Scotland Food & Drink, which includes representation from Tennent Caledonian Breweries, Islay Ales and Diageo.
The brewing industry directly sustains more than 8,500 jobs in Scotland, with 51,000 more people employed in the wider beer and pub trade. Building on this success means attracting a new and younger workforce with the right skills and training to meet business needs and seize the opportunities that are out there.
It is just one of several sectors which stand to benefit from the diverse options available to young people as they pass through the formative Senior Phase of their education, from S4-S6.
Young people have access to a staggering breadth of Foundation Apprenticeships – across 12 frameworks, seven in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. These offer industry experience and skills to kick-start a career in areas as diverse as engineering, social services and healthcare, IT, business, creative and digital media industries, accounting or food and drink technologies as with the brewing MA, with completion, opening up routes straight into work or on to a Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship, college or university course.
Work-focused routes are growing in popularity – more than 28,000 people started apprenticeships last year, surpassing our annual target and we are providing 29,000 apprenticeship opportunities this year – a record number.
These routes are not only delivering the skills sought by a multitude of sectors; they are delivering for the young people of Scotland.
The latest follow-up leaver destination statistics show 93.2% of 2017-18 school leavers were in a positive follow-up destination. Since 2009-10, the proportion of pupils in Employment has increased by 5.3 percentage points, while the proportion of school leavers who are unemployed and seeking work has fallen by 8.1 percentage points over the same period.
On SQA Results Day, we should bear in mind that education is about ensuring every young person is able to fulfil their potential by achieving qualifications and results that serve them well on their chosen journey while receiving the best possible experience.