Case Study

System change case study: Glasgow Youth Employability Partnership

by | Nov 3, 2021

Youth Futures Foundation has gathered this case study to help applicants to our Connected Futures Fund understand the kinds of things that might be involved in collective local efforts to change the ways that systems work. We recognise that the fund is not like ordinary project funding, and we hope you will find some of these case studies helpful prompts as you think through your application.

You do not have to copy or draw on this example at all. It is only an example, and it won’t all be relevant to you and your context – feel free to take what you need, and ignore the rest.

We will not give preference to applications that look like this example. We want to see your ideas for changing how things work.

Glasgow Youth Employability Partnership

What is it?

Glasgow’s Youth Employability Partnership (2008-14) was set up to address two key issues preventing young people from receiving the level and quality of employability support they needed:

  • Patchy and inconsistent data on school leaver destinations, making it hard to identify and engage young people at most risk, or commission, target and evaluate services
  • Complex, fragmented, competitive landscape of support, creating barriers to cooperation, referrals or information-sharing between services and providers

The partnership involved local authorities across the city region, colleges, Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector and Glasgow Housing Association, as well as nationally mandated employability agencies including Education Scotland, JobCentre Plus and Skills Development Scotland (Scotland’s national skills and careers services).

How did it work?

The partners worked with commissioners across Glasgow, including health, justice and housing as well as employability and skills, to review existing provision, and how funding practices contributed to fragmentation, competition and poor outcomes. This led to an agreement among commissioners to improve communication and information-sharing, reduce duplication and seek funding alignment. The partnership also established a new shared framework for commissioning and coordinating youth services.

Skills Development Scotland developed a new shared management information system to replace their existing database and the parallel reporting system used by schools and colleges. They worked with schools across Glasgow to improve the recording and usage of data on destinations.

Finally, the partnership developed a new, collaborative approach to identifying and supporting young people who were likely to struggle in their transition out of education. Partners formed multidisciplinary teams to work with schools, using a shared approach to identify students at risk, and taking a joint case management approach to provide relevant, joined-up support.

What makes this an example of systems change? 

The partnership was deliberately set up to change the whole system of employment support in Glasgow. By bringing stakeholders together to map what was currently happening, it created a shared picture of key problems and opportunities for change. This built buy-in and unlocked city-wide changes like the new commissioning framework.

Some initiatives laid the groundwork for future change. For example, the multidisciplinary school teams were the model for Glasgow’s Youth Gateway, a one-stop, multi-agency service to deliver and coordinate support for young people most at risk, funded by Glasgow’s 2015-2018 City Deal.

The partnership also had wider impact. Glasgow’s work on data was taken up nationally and developed into the 16+ Data Hub, which is now used by local authorities, colleges, student funding bodies and JobCentre Plus across Scotland.

Elements of systems change

  • Aligning funding streams and incentives (using a shared commissioning framework)
  • Improving quality, availability and sharing of data
  • Improving multi-agency coordination, information-sharing and collaboration
  • Refocusing existing services and resources (to early intervention for students at risk)


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