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Demonstrating commitment

I read with interest the letter from Charlie Docherty, the depute head of John Paul Academy in Glasgow ("Back from the dole", last week).

Careers Scotland staff work incredibly hard to gather information on the destination of leavers from every school in Scotland on an annual basis - over 50,000 last year.

The numbers reported in the School Leaver Destination Report (SLDR) represent a snapshot in time - the October count date allows us to compare data with previous years' patterns and trends. The report does differentiate between those known to be unemployed on the count date and those whose destination is unknown to us.

In 2003-04, the figures were: unemployed and seeking employment or training (13 per cent); unemployed and not seeking employment or training (3 per cent); unknown (4 per cent).

Many headteachers and councils are using our SLDR effectively. It is stimulating some of them to look at strategies for reducing the unemployment rate among their school-leavers. Glasgow City Council is amongst those who are proactively engaging with us as a result of the publicity about SLDR unemployment rates.

Research evidence indicates that pupils with career goals have higher attainment levels, are more ambitious regarding personal qualification aims and demonstrate more positive views and commitment across a broad range of factors.

Careers Scotland is keen to work with schools, local development companies, social inclusion partnerships, colleges, training providers and others on a more integrated approach to career education that aims to motivate and engage all young people, equipping them with the career planning skills and attitudes they need to secure and sustain positive post-school destinations.

Although some of the SLDR figures are disappointing, there is evidence of progress that is encouraging. This partnership approach is already demonstrating benefits.

Many of Glasgow's schools have seen a real improvement in their leavers'

outcomes. In one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, the average unemployment rate for school-leavers in the east end of Glasgow has significantly dropped from 22 per cent in 1999 to 13 per cent in 2004. This is attributable to targeted activity and effective partnership working. The lessons learnt from this can be shared with other schools which face similar challenges.

Christina Allon Director of Careers Scotland (Scottish Enterprise)

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