Since February, SDS have been gathering extensive evidence on the Scottish career system. 

This is key stage of the Career Review and has included detailed analysis of existing policy, funding, service offers, user perception and performance of current provision. The 'as is' review has mapped the career services available for young people in Scotland up to the age of 25. 

Following this review, as outlined in the Career Review timeline, SDS will work with partners and stakeholders to identify any gaps in provision, design and develop prototypes for new / existing services, and present recommendations for the implementation of all age career services across Scotland to the Scottish Government by December.   

Understanding our Career system in Scotland

Research to date has included an initial phase of commissioned evidence gathering, the results of which can be found in our 'Evidence so far' section below. Following this, further research includes:

'Living Lab' engagement sessions held with customers, practitioners & experts
interviews carried out with informants from across the Scottish career system
published and unpublished documents gathered and reviewed
organisations responding to our survey

So what have we learned?

Use the '+' symbol to expand the headings below and discover the key messages from the evidence gathered so far, thought leadership articles from experts across Scotland summarising the findings and additional evidence packages. 

Understanding what's in scope

Given the extensive research carried out, it's important to understand which aspects of the Scottish career system were analysed before exploring the findings.

In scope for the review 

  • Publicly funded services delivered in Scotland
  • Early years
  • Secondary education (BGE / SP)
  • Post school in-transition
  • Further education (FE)
  • Higher education (HE)
  • Employment, including apprenticeships 

Out of scope for the review 

  • Privately funded careers services
  • Services outwith Scotland
  • Redundancy services
  • Adult career transitions (for the evidence base only, recommendations will cover all age services)

What's working?

Scotland has been recognised as having a world class career guidance system with international recognition. Through this review, we can evidence clear strengths in the existing provision.

  • Skills Development Scotland plays a critical role in the wider career ecosystem as both a career service delivery agency and a strategic skills body, linking career guidance to education and employment, and influencing provision beyond its own staffing. 
  • There is clear evidence of investment in the infrastructure needed for effective services, including high quality LMI and digital services.  
  • Scottish Government has aspirational aims, around creating a fully-realised, lifelong guidance system which is accessible to all, with many examples of good practice and innovation. 
  • Career practitioners, qualified to postgraduate level,  working across both SDS and Universities demonstrate high levels of professionalism. 
  • Local partnership structures, including the role of the third sector, demonstrate clear benefits, particularly in widening access to services to vulnerable people in time of need.



A brief history of the Scottish careers service

Through the Career Review research, we've charted the evolution of the careers service in Scotland over the past 40 – 50 years.

Explore the careers service from inception to where we are now, to understand the relationship between the economy, attributes of work and policy, the evolution of the service at pivotal points in time, and view our insight on what the future of work may look like for Scotland. 

Visit the careers service history timeline 

International career service delivery

Through the 'Mapping Scotland’s Career Services' commission, six international case studies have been collated, showcasing diversity and a range of different systems that Scotland could adapt elements of best practice from.

Each case study presents a brief overview of an international location which publicly funds career services, with the intent of using career services to meet a range of diverse policy aims.

And each country we’ve analysed has its strengths, many of which Scotland share, and aspects which the Programme Board will consider when moving to the next stage of the review. 

Review the international case studies 

What's next?

Key findings from this review will continue to be added here in the coming weeks and months, in line with our agreed timeline for the development of the Career Review. Please continue to check back for more information. 


If you require any of the information presented in the evidence packs in another format, please email