More needs to be done to support care leavers and care experienced students to make sure they progress into further study or employment, according to the NUS Scotland students' union.
New figures published by the Scottish Funding Council yesterday in its annual College Leaver Destinations report show that the proportion of college leavers in Scotland who moved on to positive destinations – ie, further education or work – rose by 3.3 per cent over the past three years.
The data also reveals that among those who left college in 2016-17, the majority went on to employment (47.1%), while more than 40 per cent enrolled to study at university. The number of those who became unemployed or unavailable to work dropped from 12.4 per cent to 11.7 per cent.
Crucially, of those students who remained in education at college or university, 86.3 per cent progressed to a higher level of study on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).
'Critical role of colleges'
NUS Scotland President Liam McCabe said the union welcomed the steady improvement in positive destinations for college leavers as they progressed into employment or further study. “Overall, it underlines the critical role of colleges in preparing students from a variety of backgrounds for the workplace or for the lecture hall,” he said.
However, he added: “The statistics show that more needs to be done to improve access to positive destinations and employment for carers and care experienced students; we cannot take for granted the progress we have made for these students so far. We know the Care Experienced Student Bursary, aligned with the Scottish Living Wage, is vital to supporting students throughout their learner journey. We will continue to be relentless in campaigning for this level of support to be rolled out to all students.”
Colleges Scotland’s chief executive, Shona Struthers, said: “Going to college is a first choice for many and this report demonstrates that colleges are a valued route into a career as around half of all college leavers move directly into employment with colleges continuing to work closely with employers to provide students with work-ready skills, industry experience and the necessary qualifications to enter the workforce.”
Scotland’s FE minister Richard Lochhead said: “It’s clear from these statistics that we have a high-performing college sector that is delivering the skills employers are looking for as well as providing a valuable alternative route into higher education. I wish all of our college leavers success in their future careers.”