The number of East Lothian school leavers moving on to employment, education or training has risen to a three-year high according to data published by the Scottish Government.

Young people are being well supported to make positive steps into the world of work, education and training. The figures confirm that we are among the top performing areas in Scotland

Official figures show that 96.1% of young people achieved a positive post-school destination in 2020/21. This is higher than the national average (95.5%) and higher than the figure recorded in the county in 2018/19 (95.8%).

The data on initial post-school destinations for 2020/21 was published by the Scottish Government in February 2022. The report showed that 63.4% of young people continued into higher or further education while 28.3% moved into employment (national average 68.4% and 22.6% respectively). In particular the figures show that the number of East Lothian care experienced young people moving into a positive destination was 92.9% compared to 87.9% nationally, and 94.3% for school leavers with Additional Support Needs compared to 92.8% nationally.

A meeting of East Lothian Council’s Education Committee yesterday (22 March 2022) also heard that the county’s Participation Measure in January 2022 was 92.5% compared to a national average of 90.4%. Published by Skills Development Scotland, the Participation Measure indicates how many young people aged 16-19 are in a positive destination, for example education or employment. This places East Lothian seventh out of 32 local authorities, an improvement from the position recorded in January 2021 (10 out of 32/ 94%).

The figures reflect work carried out by the Council’s Education service, in particular its East Lothian Works teams, to increase support for young people throughout school and into the wider world of work and training. A number of new initiatives have been introduced that are designed to support transitions and better meet the needs of East Lothian young people, including:

  • The introduction of a Common School Day across all six secondary schools to increase opportunities for inter-school collaboration and for young people to attend college partnerships or participate in Foundation Apprenticeships and other qualifications
  • Effective collaborative working whether through the School to College Partnership offering a wide range of Further Education and Training opportunities with Edinburgh College, or through work with The Ridge CIC to offer construction and rural skills certificated qualifications and training courses
  • East Lothian Works and its partners have guaranteed that every school leaver and those up to the age of 19 are allocated a dedicated key worker to track and support young people into a positive destination. This includes the partnership delivery of a  six-month programme that has been developed for groups of young people who intend to leave school at winter or summer to help them achieve a positive destination
  • New programmes are being developed to support young people at risk of disengagement to take part in learning, employability and further and higher education, and to support Senior Phase students with Additional Support Needs with targeted and individually tailored employability sessions.

Scottish Government funding has also been used to offer paid work placements within the council and other local businesses through the Council’s ‘Workforce For The Future’ programme. Since the end of 2021, £550,000 of funding has been committed to supporting departments to offer 10 Modern Apprenticeships, with a further 16 opportunities in the pipeline including Paid Work Experience, Graduate Internships and Traineeships in departments such as Human Resources, Procurement, Landscape and Countryside, and Housing.

Head of Education Nicola McDowell said: “The last few years have been challenging from an economic and educational perspective due to COVID-19 which is why I am so pleased to see the data confirm that East Lothian’s young people are being well supported to make positive steps into the world of work, education and training. The figures confirm that we are among the top performing areas in Scotland.

“Working with our partners and schools, East Lothian Works has transformed how we operate to respond in a way that meets the needs of our learners and school leavers, giving them the tools and opportunities that they need to succeed. We will continue to develop programmes and initiatives that make sure all of our learners have access to the support that they need during their time in school and beyond.”

Published: Thursday, 24th March 2022