Addressing the labour market emergency: Scottish Government response

Across four themes, this report sets out the Scottish Government’s response to the recommendations made by The Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board sub-group for immediate action to mitigate rising levels of unemployment across Scotland due to the impact of COVID-19.

Ministerial Foreword

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Scotland, the Scottish Government has set out investment of over £2.3 billion to support business through the shut down and gradual re-opening of the economy. Despite our investment, and that of the UK Government, it is clear that Scotland faces an unprecedented economic challenge.

In June, the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery chaired by Benny Higgins reported its findings to the Scottish Government. The response to that report, setting out the Scottish Government’s ambition to deliver recovery that supports a wellbeing economy and social renewal, is published alongside this document.

We also sought an expert view on the action we should be taking now to mitigate rising levels of unemployment across Scotland. I asked the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board to consider the immediate actions that could be taken, not just across the enterprise and skills agencies but across civic society.

The Strategic Board immediately formed a sub-group, chaired by Nora Senior, Chair of the Strategic Board, and Frank Mitchell, Chair of Skills Development Scotland. The group worked intensely over a few short weeks to deliver a series of recommendations for immediate action. I am immensely grateful to the group members who gave their time and expertise to pull this report together.

I agree with the co-chairs that urgent action is needed. This response covers the first four areas identified by the group for immediate action.

The actions set out here will draw together the capacity of our enterprise, skills and employability system to address rising unemployment. Many actions are already underway or in planning, including the work led by Sandy Begbie CBE, a previous leader of Edinburgh and Lothian’s Developing the Young Workforce Group, to develop a Job Guarantee for young people.

But implementing these actions and mitigating the labour market impacts of COVID-19 requires the full support of businesses and employers of every type and in every sector of the Scottish economy – our progress towards recovery is a shared endeavour.

Together, this work can act as a catalyst for a truly collaborative approach between all parts of the Scottish economy to tackle inequality, address the risk of unemployment and contribute to a just and fair transition to net zero emissions.

Scotland faces a challenging journey towards economic recovery, but through a variety of means, including this report, this Government is committed to working with all its partners to accelerate that journey.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills



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