Careers advice from Skills Development Scotland

Ask any of your family, friends or colleagues about a great piece of career advice they’ve been given, and no matter the time that’s passed you’ll bet they can remember it.

That’s the kind of long-lasting impact Skills Development Scotland (SDS) careers advisers are having on young people across the country on a daily basis.

And this year, the national skills body has extended the reach of its careers service in schools to include younger pupils, their parents, carers and teachers.

SDS Head of Career Management Skills Development and Delivery, James Russell, is part of the team leading on the expansion.

He said: ‘We all want young people to go on to successful and fulfilling careers

‘This expansion of our services adds to our support to help them to do that.

‘Good career advice and guidance helps to ensure the choices young people make about their future are informed, and based on their skills, interests, opportunities and abilities.

‘Sessions with our expert careers advisers will now start with primary seven pupils on transition visits to their new secondary schools or early in their S1 year.

‘We’ll also have group and one-to-one sessions at subject choices time, and enhanced support for those who need it most from third year.

‘This is in addition to existing group sessions, drop-in clinics and parent sessions SDS already carries out.’

SDS worked with 35 schools across 12 local authorities in the last academic year to demonstrate how the expansion would work in practice, the full roll-out to all schools happened in June.

Offering parents and carers the chance to get involved in the subject choices one-to-one interview – part of the expanded service offer – went over particularly well. Teachers can come along too.

James said: ‘We all know parents and carers are the biggest influence on young people when they’re making career decisions.

‘Supporting parents to get involved and be as informed as possible has, and always will be, a top priority for us.

‘The feedback we’re getting from pupils, teachers, parents, carers and of course our own advisers, has already helped us to shape what we’re offering, and we’ll continue to take that valuable feedback on board.’

SDS has also developed digital tools and resources for primary 5 to 7 teachers and pupils.

SDS’s Digital Services Manager, Derek Hawthorne, said: ‘We’ve developed and tested the tools with the help of pupils and teachers, and the reception so far has been fantastic.

‘They are designed specifically to be used in a classroom, so teachers can mediate and guide pupils in line with class projects and the curriculum.’

The tools – Animal Me and Skills Builder – and support resources for teachers are accessed through SDS’s award-winning careers information and advice web service My World of Work ( A third tool, My Interests, will be added soon.

My World of Work is already widely used in secondary schools, colleges and beyond, supporting the work of SDS careers advisers in schools and centres across Scotland.

It has a specific partner area housing resources developed with teachers for the classroom and used by other education professionals with older customers to further develop their career management skills.

There is also a section packed with information for parents and carers.

Derek said: “As well as being a thoroughly useful resource for teachers, we hope the tools will mean a far richer and more personalised experience for pupils, preparing them for the conversations they’ll start having with SDS careers advisers when they get to secondary school.”

SDS has also worked closely with Education Scotland to develop four career-long professional learning modules to further support teachers.

The expansion of careers services is in line with the Career Education Standard, outcomes of Developing the Young Workforce and of course, Curriculum for Excellence.