~ Ministear airson lonnsachadhagus Sgilean Meinister for Lear an Skeils Minister for Learning and Skills

Alasdair Allan BPA/MSP

FIT: 0845 7741741
E: scottish.ministers@scotland.gsLgov.uk

The Scottish Government
Riaghaltas na h-Alba

Ms Kezia Dugdale MSP The Scottish Parliament EDINBURGH EH991SP

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-:::?DELIVERING A GAMES LEGACY FOR SCOllAND

Ur faidhlelY our ref: GC-11/10/11 Ar faidhle/Our ref: 2011/1021394

c; November

2011

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Thank you for your letter of 11 October to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy about the work the Scottish Government is undertaking to help young people with autism progress into employment. I am replying as this issue falls within my portfolio. We realise that improving the outcomes for this group of young people is challenging and that there is still work to do. First, let me reassure you that this Government is committed to improving leaver destinations and we are doing all we can to support all of our young people Into further learning, training and jobs beyond school. You will be aware that through 16+ Learning Choices we continue to work with Local Authorities and their partners to strengthen local approaches to post-16 transition planning to ensure an offer of an appropriate place in post-16 learning for all young people. Good progress has been made since this was introduced in December 2008. However, much still needs to be done to improve the progression for young people who need additional support for their learning, including those with autism. We have therefore asked that Local Authorities prioritise these young people as they further develop their post-16 offer and we are continuing to provide specific funding and a package of practical support to drive improvements in this area. More recently, you will recall that the First Minister announced Opportunities for All as part of his Programme for Government. This gives a specific commitment to ensure an offer of a place in education or training for every 16-19 year-old in Scotland who are currently not in work, a Modern Apprenticeship or education.

Cidhe Bhictoria, Dun Eideann, EH6 6QQ Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH66QQ www.scotland.gov.uk

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.,. Opportunities for All, which will start to become operational over the next financial year, forms a significant element of the ambitious and wide ranging reform of post-16 education through which we shall seek to secure improved outcomes for all our learners. My officials are currently working with key stakeholders to take this work forward. You will also be interested to know that on 2 November, the Scottish Government, together with COS LA, launched the new Scottish Government Strategy for Autism. The £13.4 million allocated to implementing the recommendations of the Strategy will support a number of initiatives aimed at improving services and access to services for people with autism. It will also help support individuals into meaningful employment through schemes such as additional one-stop shop centres throughout Scotland and the creation of autism coordinators. Both initiatives will provide advice and support to individuals seeking to improve the quality of their lives through greater employment opportunities. In relation to your specific point about internships and work experience, Ministers are clear that we must continue to work with employers to ensure work experience; mentoring and other support offered by employers can become a key part of Opportunities for All. Work experience programmes continue to be an importanf opportunity for young people in the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence, enabling them to develop the skills for life, learning and work. It is for schools to ensure that these young people get the support that they need to take part. We are also providing funding to a small number of Local Authorities to explore how they might adopt Project Search which is currently operating successfully in North Lanarkshire. This model supports young people with learning disabilities into paid employment and involves systematic on-the-job instruction and practical support to enable the young person to move into a permanent job. I appreciate your continued interest in this area and hope the above shows our continued commitment to all of Scotland's young people.

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ALASDAIR ALLAN

Cidhe Bhictoria, Dun Eideann, EH6 6QQ Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ www.scotland.gov.uk