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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.2 Administration and governance

Last update: 25 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 10/11/2020

On this page
  1. Governance
  2. Cross sectoral cooperation



Governance of youth employment

There are no specific arrangements for the governance of youth employment: conditions are set by general employment legislation and the health of the labour market. Specific employment programmes for young people do exist.

Devolution has led to a split in the main top-level governmental authorities responsible for the policy areas described in this chapter. Employment legislation and social security remain the responsibility of the UK Government.  Responsibility for skills, careers guidance and counselling, traineeships and apprenticeships and entrepreneurship have been devolved. Moreover, since the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Parliament and Ministers have had responsibility for welfare policy and delivery.

The main actors involved in youth employment and entrepreneurship are described below. All of them focus on the general population, rather than having a specific youth focus.

Scottish Government

The Scottish Government is headed by the First Minister, who, with the approval of the Parliament and then the Queen, appoints other Ministers and determines their portfolios.

The Cabinet consists of the First Minister and nine Scottish Ministers acting as Cabinet Secretaries, each with their own portfolio. One or two additional ministers also work within the portfolio's broad area of responsibility. The Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers responsible for areas covered by this chapter are the:

  • Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities
  • Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
  • Minister for Childcare and Early Years
  • Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science
  • Minister for Employability and Training.

They are supported by civil servants who  work in  associated directorates. Relevant directorates include:

  • Advanced Learning and Science Directorate
  • Children and Families Directorate
  • Fair work directorate
  • Learning directorate.

Supporting agencies

Several public agencies also play a key role in implementing policy in the areas covered by this chapter. Key amongst these are Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Education Scotland.

Education Scotland is the national improvement agency for education and lifelong learning.  It is responsible for supporting quality and improvement in learning and teaching.   

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is the national body for skills and workforce development. Its approach is summarised in its skills planning model (see the section on 'Skills Development' for further information. SDS also provides all-age careers information, advice and guidance. Its 2019-23 Corporate Plan outlines the following goals:

  • All people in Scotland have the skills, information and opportunities to succeed in the labour market.
  • Scotland has a dynamic and responsive skills system.

SDS works with local authorities and Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) to ensure that its national policies are translated into a local context. The contributions that the SDS makes to local outcomes are set out in CPP Single Outcome Agreements and Youth Activity Plans.

The Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB) was created following recommendations from the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce. The Commission is led by employers and representatives from industry bodies across a range of sectors and gives them a leading role in developing apprenticeships in Scotland.

Skills Development Scotland works with the SAAB to help ensure work-based learning is demand-led and responsive to the needs of employers and the Scottish economy. SAAB is made up of four groups:

  • the Group Board, whose members are senior business representatives, and which is responsible for providing advice and making recommendations on the guiding principles, operational policy, systems and structures supporting apprenticeships
  • the Employer Engagement Group, which listens to and communicates with employers
  • the Employer Equalities Group, which addresses under-representation in apprenticeships, and supports better access to and participation in Modern Apprenticeships
  • the Frameworks and Standards Group, which oversees the development of apprenticeship frameworks and standards.

The Modern Apprenticeship Group (MAG) is responsible for approving - and, where necessary, withdrawing approval from - all Scottish apprenticeship frameworks. It is an independent group which draws its authority from the Scottish Government. Members of the group include representatives from the main stakeholders involved in managing and delivering the Modern Apprenticeship (MA) programme in Scotland:

  • Scottish Government
  • Skills Development Scotland (SDS)
  • College Development Network
  • Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Accreditation
  • Scottish Training Federation
  • Scottish Trades Union Congress
  • SSC Qualifications Group

Further information about the Group is available in its Constitution.

Cross-sectoral cooperation

There is no specific mechanism for cooperation on matters of youth employment and entrepreneurship policy. The Cabinet structure of the Scottish Government, however, facilitates cross-sectoral cooperation, in particular through Cabinet committees and subcommittees. In addition, there are general mechanisms available, such as task forces and inquiries.