Perth and Kinross has achieved its best school leaver destination figures for five years, according to new official statistics.
The news comes as work progresses on the £500,000 Developing Young Workforce initiative in the region aimed at getting young people work ready and ensuring local businesses have access to the skilled employees they need to grow.
Some 95% of 1,389 students leaving school in the fourth, fifth or sixth year of secondary school in 2015-16 progressed to a positive destination – higher than the Scottish average of 93.3%.
Data from the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) covering 52,249 senior phase school leavers across the country also shows Perth and Kinross achieved the second biggest improvement of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland.
The Perth and Kinross figure for positive destinations is up from 92.1% in 2014-15 when the region was slightly lower than the Scottish average of 93%.
Positive destinations include employment, higher education, further education, training, voluntary work and activity agreements^.
The data found that the main three outcomes were higher education (39%), employment (28%) and further education (26%).
Steven Stewart, Chair of the Perth and Kinross Developing Young Workforce Regional Board, said: “These are extremely encouraging results and great news for the future of our young people, businesses and economy. The strong programmes and links we have here between business and education are clearly making a difference, particularly in helping young people go straight from school into work and apprenticeships.”
“But we can’t be complacent and there’s still more work to do to make sure we provide the right range of routes into employment for all of our young people. We hope more employers, particularly small businesses, get involved. As well as bringing new opportunities for our young people, there are big benefits for employers too.”
The Developing Young Workforce initiative in Perth and Kinross is supporting a package of measures locally over the next three years. There is a particularly focus on encouraging more of the region’s 6,000 employers to offer work experience opportunities, promoting apprenticeships and helping ensure young people from all backgrounds can build the right skills to enter the workplace.
Key partners in the employability drive include Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Perth and Kinross Council, Perth College UHI and Skills Development Scotland.
Jill Hunter, Area Manager Tayside at Skills Development Scotland, said: “ This is a positive testimony to the partnership activity that takes place to embed the Career Education Standard and support young people to be resilient career planners. Skills Development Scotland advisers continue to support with those young people who are looking to progress to the next step after they have left school.”
Nationally, the Scottish Government has set a target of reducing 2014 levels of youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021.