August 28, 2023 dmh

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Please note: This webinar will be available at two different times 9.00 – 10.00 am (BST) and 16.00 – 17.00 (BST) to allow those with a busy schedule to be able to join us and also to allow our international colleagues in different time zones to participate. Please click on the link above and select your preferred time.

This event is hosted by Associate Professor, Deirdre Hughes OBE – Warwick University (IER) and Director of dmh associates and CareerChat (UK) Ltd.


Young people face increasingly challenging post-school transitions. Understanding young people’s experience of this transition, their career ambitions, and their influences can help career practitioners to deliver person-centred career services for young people. This will support young people to build the skills, habits, and experiences required to negotiate the rapidly changing labour market.

A large-scale study by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) focused on the post-school transitions, career choices, influences and motivations of school leavers across Scotland. The results from this study indicated that almost half of Scotland’s school leavers say a lack of confidence and a lack of work experience are key barriers to their future careers. However, young people felt supported and encouraged by the career services they received in school, and this was particularly true for those from the most disadvantaged groups, who reported a wide range of benefits.

This session will present the headline findings from the research and attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the research implications.

About the research:

The Young People’s Career Ambitions (YPCA) research was carried out in 2022, with international academic expert in careers, education and skills policy Associate Professor Deirdre Hughes contributing to the design.

All young people in Scotland who left school in 2020/2021 were sent a link to a questionnaire in October 2022. A total of 1,414 young people responded, with results weighted to ensure they were representative of the Scottish school leaver population. The YPCA research covered the following areas:

  • Post-school transitions
  • Key career influencers
  • Views on CIAG services
  • Career Management Skills
  • Future aspirations
  • Perceived career barriers

By the end of this session attendees will

  • increase their knowledge and understanding of the factors that can impact on young people making career decisions
  • learn about further analysis currently being conducted from this research on young people’s career ambitions
  • contribute to the discussion around how career practitioners can support young people making the transition from school into the labour market

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Presenters: Dr. Graeme Smith, Dr. Patrick Watt, and Debbie Pavia

Dr Graeme Smith is an Evaluation and Research Executive at Skills Development Scotland. Graeme’s main area of work involves conducting research and evaluations within the Careers Informaion, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) services in Scotland. Graeme has worked on a range of projects investigating how young people, partners and stakeholders, and those from equality groups perceive Scotland’s careers services. With a background in psychological research, Graeme is particularly interested in understanding the factors that influence young people’s decisions around career pathways.

Dr Patrick Watt is Head of Evaluation & Research at Skills Development Scotland, the national skills agency. He has overall responsibility for customer research and evaluation work within SDS. This includes the delivery of SDS’s sponsored PhD programme, co-funded with the Economic and Social Research Council. Patrick has previously worked in the Futureskills Scotland unit, in Scottish local government and as an Operational Research consultant for British Steel. He was formerly a Director of Hall Aitken, a leading Scottish economic development consultancy. Patrick has an honours degree in mathematics with statistics, a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, and a PhD in labour economics.

Debbie Pavia is Research manager at Skills Development Scotland. She leads on the Corporate and Careers Information and Guidance Research strands in SDS. Starting her career in economic development consultancy, she has a 20-year track record of working on research and evaluation studies for public sector bodies, third sector and local, regional, and national government organisations. She has a particular knowledge and skills in evaluation, employability, and the career pathways of young people. Debbie has an honours degree in Economics & Finance, a master’s degree in Local Economic Development and is a Member of the UK Evaluation Society (UKES).


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