This research seeks to understand the impact of the shift to online learning on young people, and any benefits from the transition to virtual engagement that could be retained post-pandemic. The research also investigates how digital accessibility varies across young people in Scotland, and the impact of digital poverty on the benefits young people can gain from virtual engagement with the world of work.
Our research found that impactful, engaging virtual learning experiences related to the world of work typically have the following features:
- Young people are involved in the design of virtual opportunities
- Experiences are interactive, live, and structured with a blend of on and off camera work
- Short bursts of activity are used, rather than day-long event
- Virtual delivery is supported by an in-person facilitator to engage young people. This is particularly important for younger students.
“Online support cannot substitute for ‘hands on’ experience of the world of work however, a blended approach can work”
“59% of young people think future support about the world of work should be a mixture of both face to face and online support”
Benefits and drawbacks of virtual delivery were explored. Numerous stakeholders, including DYW coordinators, discussed the benefits of virtual experiences in exposing young people to employers and opportunities in areas which would be inaccessible in person. This benefit applies to all young people but is particularly pertinent to those living in rural and remote areas who otherwise could not access opportunities. Online engagement can also encourage more employers to volunteer their time, as it affords them increased flexibility and is arguably less time consuming.
However, online engagements present a trade-off in terms of opportunities for young people to socialise with others. Generally, young people who engaged with the research prefer engaging with the world of work in person. They think that online support cannot substitute for “hands on” experience of the world of work, and most stakeholders broadly agree. They acknowledge that there are some elements of online support which should be retained in a blended model, and that some sectors or work types lend themselves better to virtual delivery such as digital/tech, as opposed to the care sector or engineering.
Benefits and drawbacks of using virtual vary by the groups of young people involved. Being at home can be a barrier to engaging with online support, especially for those who do not have access to a private space. Consideration must be taken whenever virtual experiences require young people to connect from home or their own devices of the potential impact of digital poverty to ensure a universally positive experience of the engagement.
Both stakeholders and young people agree that virtual experiences should always add value compared to what could be done in person, enhancing the offer around the world of work. This is an important principle to underpin decisions made by DYW regarding the format of future delivery. Each learning experience should be considered on a case-by-case basis, to determine whether virtual can enhance the offer. This report provides a checklist that can be put to practical use to support this decision making process.
Please click here to download the final report in full as well as a summary document of the key findings.