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Our work with our business partners has boosted young people’s prospects

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The Edinburgh guarantee is a vision that all sectors in the city will work together to ensure that every young person in Edinburgh will leave school with a job, training or further education opportunity available to them.

  • Project: The Edinburgh Guarantee Partnership
  • Objectives: The guarantee envisages a positive destination for every school leaver and a future where the full potential of our young people is harnessed to the benefit of the individual, businesses and the city
  • Timescale: 2012-2017
  • Cost to authority: £1m per year
  • Number of staff working on project: Five
  • Officer contact details: Michelle Fenwick

Edinburgh is a thriving, world-class city that has experienced sustained economic growth and residents enjoy a quality of life that is second to none. However, when I arrived in Edinburgh as chief executive nearly five years ago I was alarmed that it was the worst performing of Scotland’s 32 local authorities for school leavers moving into a positive destination.

Sue Bruce

Sue Bruce

In 2011 more than 500 young people, and more than 17% of the city’s school leavers, were exiting the Edinburgh school system into unemployment, unable to secure work or a place in further or higher education. We recognised that there was more we could do to help young people take that important first step in life to get into work, further education or training.

Not only would this better enable the young people to fulfil their potential and benefit their career opportunities it would also help to obviate the devastating impact that entrenched unemployment can have on individuals and their communities together with the associated financial impact and increased demand on other public services.

This issue could not be tackled by any one agency or organisation alone. It is a real tribute to the willingness of our partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors to tackle this issue that the Edinburgh guarantee was established on a multi-agency basis.

Giving young people the best start in life then became a key priority for us, which is why we invest £1m a year in this vital partnership. Interestingly, many of our business partners in the guarantee initially signed up thinking that they were doing something purely as part of their corporate social responsibility. They very quickly came to realise that the young people brought with them an energy, enthusiasm and fresh perspective which were of real benefit to their organisations.

This is paying great dividends as more young people in Edinburgh than ever before are being helped into work, education, or training. The Edinburgh guarantee is therefore playing an important role in securing future success for many of our young people in the city.

To deliver a “positive destination for all” we created a three-point plan with evidence-led actions designed to: stimulate demand for school-leavers from employers; improve the tailoring and quality of in-school and post-school work preparation; and build a strong cross-sector collaboration that would drive a lasting culture change on how young people are supported into the world of work.      

We are delighted with the results to date, whether its employment, apprenticeships or providing the training young people need to move out of school and into a positive destination quickly. It is really encouraging that there has been such an improvement in the figures over the past four years as making a smooth transition into work or further and higher education is an important step for young people. It boosts their self-esteem at this critical point in their lives and ensures the investment in our young talent is realised in helping to drive the future wellbeing of our city.

Since 2011, The Edinburgh Guarantee Partnership has had the following impact:

  • 93.1% of school leavers are now entering a positive destination when leaving secondary education – the highest ever and a 10% increase since 2011. This compares with a 6.5% increase at Scottish level
  • The capital is now the best performing city in Scotland for positive destinations and is 12th out of all 32 local authority areas, which puts us above the national average
  • Youth unemployment rates are now lower than the Scottish national average
  • The latest figures show that over one in four of school leavers is in employment, just over 40% are getting into and sustaining places in higher education while over a quarter of school leavers opt for further education
  • Added almost £30m to the Scottish economy, with over £17m benefiting Edinburgh’s economy directly and providing £4m of welfare benefit savings
  • More than 2,000 jobs, apprenticeships or training opportunities have been generated and more than 1,500 young people have been matched to them so far
  • 350 employers have contributed to this success
  • As part of our commitment to the guarantee, the council is currently employing 127 modern apprentices in a range of areas such as business administration, health and social care, and trades
  • The partnership secured the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities excellence award for securing a workforce for the future and the council won the first ever public sector employer of the year award at Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship Awards in 2013
  • Improved positive destination for looked-after young people
  • Cross-sector collaboration to develop an enhanced and diversified school curriculum to better prepare young people for work and a career
  • Improved the scope, quality and availability of information for young people, parents, teachers and other stakeholders to improve decision making and empowerment
  • Strengthened the offer to small to medium sized businesses by integrating business growth and recruitment incentives into one package and help create a virtuous cycle of business expansion, job growth and increased opportunity for young people.

The Edinburgh guarantee is a team approach for the whole city. Anyone can get involved and we actively engage with public, private and voluntary sector partners to help them understand how best they can help young people in a way that best suits their organisation and secure their ongoing support for what we are trying to achieve.

There are many ways of being part of the Edinburgh guarantee and all contributions are welcomed and equally valued. Contributions are not limited to jobs, but include softer but equally vital support such as industry insights that help individuals find the right career path and route to realising their full potential.

It is a cross-party initiative with all political parties collaborating and supporting it to the benefit of Edinburgh’s young people. This leadership group involves businesses, young people and public sector partners in developing the approach and ensuring that all young people in Edinburgh have increasing access to the wealth of opportunities in the city and that our tailored support enables all to make the move into a sustained positive destination on leaving school.

This would not have been possible without more than 350 businesses and agencies playing their part, from providing jobs to in-kind support such as spending time in schools to raise awareness of job opportunities within their sector, marketing, funding, mentoring, video-editing etc.

The programme focuses on each school leaver, person by person, so is very tailored to the needs and skills of the individual. It is a different way of tackling inclusion, lean in resource but relying on partnership and networks throughout Edinburgh.

Ensuring that Edinburgh’s young people have opportunities is vital for the economic success of our city but it is really important that we are even more inclusive in our support. The Edinburgh guarantee approach is very simple to replicate and we have tailored it through our project search initiative to specifically support those with disabilities.

Such is the success of the programme and benefit to young people and organisations alike that some of our business partners with a presence outside Edinburgh are so delighted with the Edinburgh guarantee outcomes that they are rolling out similar programmes to their other offices throughout the UK.

This year’s school leaver positive destination figures demonstrate that the Edinburgh guarantee is making a real difference to many young people. I am confident that with sustained investment we’ll continue to drive up this figure to enable all of our young people to have an opportunity for taking a positive next step in their lives.

Sue Bruce, chief executive, Edinburgh City Council




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