Skills Development Scotland is Scotland’s careers service.

We have more than 600 careers staff offering free, impartial career information, advice and guidance in schools, SDS careers centres, our Customer Contact Centre and community venues across Scotland.

The SDS careers team support customers to develop their Career Management Skills (CMS), empowering them to make informed decisions and realise their potential at any stage in their career. We utilise the strengths of our whole team and ensure the right person works with the customer at the right time.

Professionally qualified SDS Careers Advisers have a wealth of knowledge linked to national, regional and local skills priorities.​

SDS has four types of expert adviser:

School Careers Adviser

Every state secondary school in Scotland has a dedicated Careers Adviser working from the school.

They work closely with teachers and school staff on the SDS School Partnership Agreement, which shapes how SDS resources can be best deployed to match a school’s strengths, needs and local circumstances. 

Their work includes:

  • A mixture of one-to-one coaching, group sessions and drop-in clinics
  • Creating a Career Development Plan with pupils to help with next steps and to record progress
  • Offering support for parents/carers
  • A focus on key transition points for young people such as leaving school
  • Working closely with SDS Centre Careers Advisers and key partners to ensure successful transitions from school and continued success in sustaining positive destinations.

Find out more about careers services in schools

“It’s a privilege to advise and guide a young person on their journey through school and watch them go into work, training, further education or an apprenticeship. Their confidence and ability grows in front of your eyes, and it’s priceless seeing the smile on their face when they come to tell you they’ve got the offer they wanted.”

Annah Masahi, School Careers Adviser

Careers Adviser in an SDS careers centre

These are Careers Advisers who work with customers within our SDS careers centres and partner community venues.

As well as work with customers these advisers have close relationships with partner agencies and JobCentre Plus to ensure our expert careers support is available to all those who need it.

Find out more about services in SDS careers centres.

“Being able to use the knowledge and expertise I’ve built up to support young people to improve their confidence in their own abilities is the best part of my job.”

Gina Kelly, Careers Adviser, SDS careers centre

Their work includes:

  • A mixture of one to one career guidance using a coaching approach, group sessions and events
  • Building strong relationships with young people as part of the Next Steps service offer, supporting them on a case-management basis for as long as help is needed
  • Flexible support to reflect an individual customer’s needs and pace of progress
  • Creating a Career Development Plan with customers to help with next steps and to record progress.
  • Delivering PACE redundancy support, often from employer premises
  • Taking customer referrals from other agencies, for example the Scottish Refugee Council or Jobcentre Plus
  • Delivering Integrated Employment Services (IES) with Department of Work and Pensions
“The need for guidance is just as great for adults as it is for younger clients. I enjoy helping clients to navigate their career aims and ideas so that they are better equipped to make career decisions.”

Drew Ross, Careers Adviser, SDS careers centre

Work Coach

Work coaches have a strong focus on young people who are most in need of support on leaving school, to help ensure they go in to, and remain in, further learning, training or a job. 

They build strong relationships with their customers and are flexible to meet their needs. This includes working with them in community venues or other non-SDS premises where the young person feels most comfortable. 

Their work includes:

  • One-to-one coaching
  • Supporting young people with a care experienced background, which can extend up to the age of 26
  • Close links with careers guidance colleagues in schools and careers centres
  • Working closely with partner agencies to ensure the right support for the right customer at the right time.
  • Provide ongoing support
“I really enjoy working with young people. Each person is unique, which is a great challenge for me and makes every day different. It’s so rewarding to see young people you’ve helped achieve their goals and ambitions.”

Kenny Ross, Work Coach

Personal Adviser

Employability support is the key focus for Personal Advisers.

They are often the first friendly face a customer will see when popping in to an SDS careers centre or seeing us at a community venue.

Their work can be with customers of any age or at any stage in their career, with a focus on those who know where they want their career to go, and need support to reach those goals.

Their work includes:

  • Diagnostic interviews with customers on a first visit to an SDS centre to direct them to the right support service or adviser
  • Supporting customers with job searches, applications, how to create CVs and interview skills
  • Support Careers Advisers and Work Coaches to help customer take forward actions within their Career Development Plans.
“As a Personal Adviser you get to work with such a diverse range of customers it really keeps you on your toes. When a customer I’ve supported gets a college place, a job, or starts an apprenticeship like I did, that’s a great feeling.”

Scott McCormick, Personal Adviser

Want to know more?

Find out about our Customer Contact Centre, which is supporting people based anywhere in Scotland.

Find out how Career Management Skills and Opportunities for All are empowering people to take control of their careers.

Learn more about the career information, advice and guidance (CIAG) services we provide in schools and centres across the country.