Evaluation of Skills for Work Pilot Courses: Final Report

Matthew Walker, Thomas Spielhofer

01 January 2008

interim report | key findings from the initial stage of the evaluation

The Scottish Executive commissioned NFER to carry out an evaluation of the Skills for Work pilot courses between 2005 and 2007. Skills for Work courses were introduced to help young people to develop skills and knowledge in a broad vocational area, core skills, an understanding of the workplace, positive attitudes to learning, and employability skills. The courses are intended to provide progression pathways to further learning, training or employment for pupils of all abilities. The Skills for Work pilot involved approximately 40 delivery centres in the first year in 2005/06 and 70 in the second year of the pilot, working in partnership with nearly 60 per cent of Scotland’s secondary schools - 255 schools in total.

This is the final report and summary document

Key Findings

  • The study revealed four delivery models adopted across the Skills for Work pilot partnerships, of which the in-college delivery model was the most common one. However, delivery centres were increasingly moving towards adopting more diversified delivery models, including delivering courses in schools or in vocational centres.
  • Respondents in many delivery centres documented ways in which the pilot had helped them to develop teaching approaches to better suit the needs of younger students.
  • Most interviewees in schools agreed that the Skills for Work pilot had raised the status of vocational learning among teachers and students and all felt that it had enabled them to offer a more relevant curriculum to their pupils. Respondents in almost all schools and colleges agreed that the courses had had a positive impact on students’ vocational skills and knowledge, motivation and behaviour. Most also thought that they had helped students to make better and more informed decisions about their post-school transitions.
  • All 41 candidates interviewed were able to identify positive impacts of participating in Skills for Work courses. Almost three-quarters said that they thought it had improved their chances of finding work in the future.
  • Student retention on Skills for Work courses was very good in over two-thirds of the 29 schools contacted. Analysis of SQA data revealed that 85.6% of students had passed their courses by the end of the second year of the pilot.

Sponsor Details

Scottish Executive