Recently released Scottish Government data (2019-20) showed that Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray and Highland all recorded decreases in young people moving onto positive destinations post school, with Aberdeen City returning the lowest rates in the country.
Positive destinations for young people are defined by the Scottish Government as ‘school leavers who are engaged in higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment or activity agreements’.
Since the figures were published young people have, of course, also had to contend with the Covid pandemic which resulted in significant disruption to schooling.
Teams from the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University (RGU), Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), and the University of the Highlands and Islands have joined together for the first time to tackle this unprecedented decline in positive destinations for our local young people.
The group is running a series of events over the next academic year to help young people who may be considering college or university in the future. Online evening sessions will cover topics such as career planning, college and university courses, UCAS applications and personal statements. The sessions will also be recorded for young people who have other after school commitments.
In addition, there will be supportive sessions for teachers and parents. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions at the events and afterwards and pupils can be directed to support projects as appropriate.
Professor Alison Jenkinson, Dean for Widening Access, Articulation and Outreach at the University of Aberdeen, said: “Post-pandemic recovery is going to be challenging for many young people in our region so I am delighted to see the Higher Education institutions in our area working together to support our young people on the journey to positive destinations.”
Duncan Cockburn, Executive Director of Strategy and Policy at RGU, added: “The University is proud to contribute to this important initiative to address the concerning decline in the number of school leavers progressing to positive destinations throughout the north of Scotland.
"It will create opportunities for higher education institutions to work together in partnership, ensuring all our young people are fully informed of their post-school options as well as how we can help them develop the knowledge and skills to become future-proof in tomorrow’s world of work.”
Hannah D’Mellow, Marketing and Student Recruitment Manager at SRUC, described the project as lovely opportunity to work with colleagues in universities across the north of Scotland.
She added: “It’s a great way to present a range of opportunities to young people across the region, in a format that is easiest for them to access.”
Kathleen Moran, Schools Recruitment Officer at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said the collaboration would give young people the opportunity to hear more about the wide range of courses available.