Targets for the Scottish Government’s flagship scheme to prepare children and young people for the world of work are not being met, according to a report.
Halfway into the seven-year Developing the Young Workforce Programme (DYW), it was revealed “too little or no” progress is being made in some key areas.
The policy aims to make sure all post-school options, such as apprenticeships, employment or university, are equally valued and available to every young person.
Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee found for many groups of young people, particularly those who have been in care or are disabled, progress has fallen behind Government targets and may not be achieved by 2021.
Figures show the percentage of employers recruiting young people directly from education has not changed from 32% since 2014, despite a target of 35%.
Committee convener Clare Adamson MSP said: “Leaving school is a major life event. While this brings many opportunities it can also be a daunting prospect.
“We want to make sure that young people get the appropriate information that they need and that they have confidence in the advice being given.
“It is positive that more young people than ever are going onto college or university.
“We recognise, however, that this isn’t the right choice for everyone so it is important that our young people are confident in making their own choice based on personalised guidance.”
The report, released on Tuesday, cites teachers’ busy workloads as one reason for the lack of progress, with the committee urging schools to free up more time to support young people preparing to move on.
It reads: “At a time of teacher shortages in some areas and subjects, the time available for continuous professional development, including focusing on DYW, can be constrained.
“Based on this context, the committee is unsurprised to hear from Education Scotland that while senior management understand and support the principle of embedding DYW, it remains very much a work in progress to assimilate the programme recommendations into day to day life of all secondary schools at classroom level.”
With the report warning that, at its current rate, the programme would not be “fully embedded by 2021”, Ms Adamson added: “Today’s report makes it clear that action is needed to ensure that the ambition of the Developing the Young Workforce report is met.
“To do this, we need to make sure that the career support available meets the needs of our young people. Something which can only be done with more one-to-one support.”
As well as calling for more time for one-to-one careers guidance, the committee also urged the Government to facilitate more opportunities for work experience and give more support to businesses seeking to engage with schools and provide apprenticeships.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to improving outcomes for schools leavers through the Developing the Young Workforce [DYW] Programme. This includes the use of vocational learning to provide young people with skills for both the current and future labour markets.
“Through DYW, we are enabling young people to learn in a range of settings in their senior phase of school; embedding employer engagement in education; offering careers advice at an earlier point in school; and have introduced new standards for careers guidance and work experience.
“We will consider the committee’s report in detail, and in the year ahead we will build on existing equalities activity and focus on improving outcomes for those who face additional barriers when transitioning from education to employment, such as disabled and care-experienced young people.”