Anti-racism in Scotland: progress review 2023

Detailed examination of progress made on commitments contained within the Race Equality Framework (2016-2030) and the Immediate Priorities Plan (2021-2023).

11. Theme 5: Employability, Employment and Income

Vision: Minority ethnic people have equal, fair and proportionate access to employment and representation at all levels, grades and occupation types in Scotland’s workforce and experience fewer labour market, workplace and income inequalities.

Our vision, shared with the Fair Work Convention, is for Scotland to be a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025, where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations, and society. This means better Fair Work outcomes for all, as well as specific improvements in the experience of work and the workplace for women, disabled people, the over fifties workforce and people from racialised minorities.

Fair Work is underpinned by the principles of equity and equality of opportunity for all. We know, however, that structural barriers persist in and beyond our labour market, and not everyone benefits from the same opportunities. Systemic racism, disablism, sexism, and ageism are still a real experience for many people. Stereotyping is one of the mechanisms that creates inequity from an early age and drives occupational segregation that moves people into certain industrial sectors, or limits expectations of what some groups of people can achieve. For example, people from racialised minorities are often stereotyped as people with low levels of literacy or educational attainment which can impact on their employment opportunities. Unless these mechanisms are addressed, inequity will continue to exist and will continue to show in gaps in pay and employment.

Accessing and sustaining Fair Work can be even harder for people who face intersecting inequalities, for example, disabled racialised minorities. This is why we have taken an intersectional approach and are continuing to focus our actions on removing barriers to employment, tackling discrimination and promoting equality within the workplace to ensure the actions being taken can benefit as many people as possible, and level the playing field for those most disadvantaged by inequality.

Goal 20: Identify and promote practice that works in reducing employment inequalities, discrimination and barriers for minority ethnic people, including in career paths, recruitment, progression and retention.

Fair Work, including the Anti-Racist Employment Strategy

In March 2021, the Scottish Government held the Public Sector Leadership Summit on Race Equality in Employment which produced a Joint Commitment pledging the Scottish Government and public sector leaders to take action to address racial inequality in the workplace. To support their delivery of the Commitment we have continued to engage with public sector employers, including co-hosting, with the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO), the National Conference on Race Equality in Employment which took place in December 2021 and follow-up workshop in April 2022 on the collection of ethnicity workforce data.

For these workshops, good practice models were identified and presented to participants to stimulate discussion and generate ideas for how best to embed these practices within public sector workplaces. We are continuing to engage with public sector leaders with a further series of engagements planned for 2023, including one held in May which focussed on effective staff networks as one way to support racialised minority staff in the workplace.

The Joint Commitment now sits within the broader context of our new Anti-Racist Employment Strategy which we published in December 2022. The strategy seeks to support employers through practical guidance and case studies and build capability and understanding of the issues affecting racially minoritised staff. The strategy also outlines a series of actions for the Scottish Government to continue to support and encourage employers to address racial inequality, and these are incorporated into our refreshed Fair Work Action Plan which takes an intersectional and cohered approach across Fair Work to addressing workplace inequality and realising our ambition to become a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025.

As part of delivering against the strategy, we have so far developed the first stage of an anti-racism workplace training framework due for completion in 2024, which will enable employers to assess their training needs, develop their own learning pathways and access good quality anti-racism training for all levels in an organisation. We have begun to develop guidance on how to apply Positive Action as per the Equality Act 2010 to encourage greater use of this measure among employers to improve the representation of racialised minorities in the workplace. This will be completed by the end of 2024.

Workplace Equality Fund

We are also continuing to fund the Workplace Equality Fund which was established in 2018 and continues to support employers to look at addressing barriers for those disadvantaged in the labour market, including racialised minorities. Thirteen projects were provided with £752,300 worth of funding in year one, of which four focus on addressing barriers for racialised minorities. The Workplace Equality Fund Impact Report, which looked at the impact of the Fund between 2018 and 2021 was published in April 2021.[28]

We will continue to promote good practice and knowledge exchange through our commitment to work with partners to join up provision of advice and support for employers by establishing a central Fair Work resource by the end of 2023. This will include advice and tools to promote the benefits of Fair Work and workplace equality; good practice case studies; and advice on networking and establishing peer support groups.

We will also continue to use the levers available to us to further embed Fair Work in all public sector investment wherever possible. This includes updating the Fair Work First criteria to better reflect priority action required to address labour market inequalities faced by people from racialised minorities, ensuring they can enter, remain and progress in work.

Alongside operational practice, we recognise the pivotal role leaders play in advancing the agenda to address racial inequality in the workplace. That is why we have committed to establishing senior leadership networks to build capability and understanding of racism and racial inequality in the workplace by the end of 2023.

The Scottish Government is also working in collaboration with NHS Education Scotland and others to design and deliver the Leading to Change Programme to support compassionate and collaborative diverse systems leaders at all levels across health, social work and social care in Scotland. This work will deliver towards commitments made in the Scottish Government’s Improving Wellbeing and Workforce Culture Strategy, due for publication in 2023.

Goal 21: Ensure robust policy responses that support race equality in relation to income and poverty.

Covid recovery

The Fairer Scotland Action Plan ended in 2021 and was superseded by the work of the Social Renewal Advisory Board and subsequently the Covid Recovery Strategy. The Covid Recovery Strategy, published in October 2021, focuses on reducing the systemic inequalities that were exacerbated during the pandemic, including for racialised minorities. Covid Recovery activity is overseen by a Programme Board which is co-chaired by the Deputy First Minister and COSLA President; this Board met most recently on 7 September 2022 and minutes are published on the Scottish Government website.

Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan

Minority ethnic families are at higher risk of child poverty (39% of children in minority ethnic families were in relative poverty in 2019-22 compared to 24% of all children in Scotland). Families from some minority ethnic groups are more likely to have three or more children, and larger families are also a priority group at higher risk of child poverty. We also know that minority ethnic people face heightened barriers (including racism and discrimination, language and cultural barriers) both in terms of access to the labour market and progression opportunities during employment. Despite better attainment levels amongst minority ethnic people, evidence suggests this does not translate into better job prospects[29].

The Best Start, Bright Futures: tackling child poverty delivery plan 2022 to 2026 was published in March 2022. It is the second tackling child poverty delivery plan due under the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’ focuses on the six priority family types most at risk of child poverty – including families from minority ethnic backgrounds. During consultation for the plan, we consulted organisations representing Black/ethnic minority communities to learn what was working, what was not, and to understand opportunities, barriers and priorities for action. In addition to this, we worked in partnership with the Poverty Alliance to engage individuals with lived experience and community-based organisations to input into the delivery plan. This included engaging with community-based organisations representing Black/ethnic minority communities.

The plan includes a range of actions to tackle child poverty amongst minority ethnic families, with targeted actions such as the fair work action plan, action that should have a disproportionate positive impact on minority ethnic families, such as action in the private rented sector, alongside efforts to ensure wider child poverty action such as childcare and holistic family support are designed, delivered and evaluated through the lens of priority families.

Work is ongoing to further develop and deliver the commitments in ‘Best Start, Bright Futures.’ This includes new cross-Government governance structures that have been established to enhance accountability and oversight of delivery performance and impact on outcomes, further refining and developing new policy commitments contained within the plan. The Scottish Government is pursuing pathfinder projects in Dundee and Glasgow which will innovate, test, evaluate and share learning on tackling child poverty and reducing wider inequalities.

Local Child Poverty Action Reports

In December 2022, Scottish Government published refreshed, non-statutory guidance on developing local child poverty action reports (LCPARs). The guidance is a living document which we will update with new resources as we learn more about what works in tackling child poverty. It was developed following engagement with the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) taking into account their recommendations [30] as well as those of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation[31] who undertook research into child poverty in minority ethnic families in Scotland. LCPARs are published jointly by health boards and local authorities and report on actions planned and actions taken to tackle child poverty.

The Scottish Government plan to engage with equality stakeholders to support local child poverty leads to embed equalities (utilising an intersectional approach) in the LCPARs. This will ensure alignment with the statutory reporting requirement to account for protected characteristics and the encouraged focus on priority groups – including minority ethnic families.

Household Debt, Welfare and Income Maximisation Advice

In relation to Household Debt, Welfare and Income Maximisation Advice all the agencies the Scottish Government funds to deliver free advice, offer an open and accessible service that supports any individual or family regardless of ethnicity. Moreover, Citizen’s Advice Scotland, who receive over £4m of funding for holistic advice, which is distributed to Citizen Advice Bureau’s across Scotland, have committed, as part of the Service, to engagement and partnership activities focussing on reaching priority family groups which includes minority ethnic families. Funding also supports the Money Talk Team that is delivered both face to face in Bureaux but also by phone and online. The Money Talk Team website offers a translation service so all the online information can be accessed in a myriad of languages.

to the Scottish Government will launch a 24-month Local Cash First partnership programme in the new financial year. This new bid-in fund aims to support up to eight area-based partnerships to strengthen cash-first responses to financial hardship, with the aim of reducing the need for food banks. There is evidence of higher prevalence of food insecurity and food bank use in people with some protected characteristics, including race. Action to reduce the need for food banks is likely to have a significant impact on these groups.

Social Security and benefits

Scottish Government published Social Security Scotland’s client diversity and equalities analysis report in 2021 which provides information on the diversity of clients applying to Social Security Scotland for Best Start Grant and/or Best Start Foods, Funeral Support Payment, Young Carer Grant, Job Start Payment and Scottish Child Payment. It also compares the outcomes of the applications by each of the equalities groups to assess if there is any variation in the rate of applications that are approved to receive the benefit payment. This publication does not cover Carer’s Allowance Supplement or Child Winter Heating Assistance, as there are no applications for these payments. The publication does not yet cover Child Disability Payment, as applications for this benefit have only been received since July 2021. The data covers the period 1st December 2020 to 31st May 2021. An updated equalities publication is expected in August 2023 which will cover the period from June 2021 to October 2022; Social Security Scotland plans to publish annually thereafter.

In terms of take-up (the extent to which people eligible for benefits go on to receive them), the Scottish Government has committed to publishing estimates of take-up rates of Scottish benefits, where possible, on an annual basis. The most recent estimates were published in October 2022 and an updated report will be published in Autumn 2023. Although these estimates do not yet include breakdowns of take-up rates by region, group or characteristic, Scottish Government analysts continue to work on producing take-up rates for benefits not yet reported on, including assessing if more granular take-up rates can be produced. A progress update of this work will be included in the publication in 2023.

Social Security policy evaluations covering all devolved benefits consider the experience of applicants and recipients and as part of their recruitment strategies for these evaluations, they are committed to ensuring diversity within their samples. In published evaluations of Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment, they heard from families from across the family types identified as being at higher risk of child poverty, including those from racialised minorities. Where relevant, they highlight if experiences differ across groups and how this could impact on wider social security outcomes such as addressing poverty.

When developing communications and marketing campaigns to raise awareness of benefits, Social Security Scotland aims to reach as many people as possible and considers those who have particular communication requirements. For example, the agency proactively produces materials in twelve community languages, which have been agreed with stakeholders, including British Sign Language; Ukrainian was also added in 2022. More than one hundred languages are available on request including Braille. Factsheets about each of the Social Security Scotland payments are proactively translated into different languages and are free to access and download via the Social Security Scotland website, with free printed copies available to order for stakeholder organisations who may need translated materials to support people who want to apply and for whom English is not their first language; Social Security Scotland was recognised nationally with a Happy to Translate Award for its work in this area. Publications are also available in Easy Read and large print.

Social Security Scotland recently published and is implementing its first inclusive communications plan. The plan was co-produced with organisations representing people who communicate in different ways, including the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO). Action will embed inclusive communication good practice in all communications with actual and potential clients and prospective and current colleagues. This enables everyone to understand services and express themselves in ways they find easiest including those who may not speak, read or write in English.

Social Security - Procurement

The Social Security Scotland Procurement team has a contract for Interpreting and Translation services and the printing contracts also offers printing in multiple languages. The contract for printing services includes information printed in minority ethnic languages. Service users can access interpreting services for face to face and online processes such as appeals. Positive action has been taken with regards the development and distribution of websites/leaflets in various languages. Furthermore, there is a contract in place with a company that offers this advocacy support which is a statutory requirement and can be used by anyone accessing social security services.

Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement

The Equality and Fairer Scotland Budget Statement looks at the impact that the Scottish Budget might have on people in Scotland and is published with the Scottish Budget every year. It assesses what the Scottish Government is proposing to spend public money on, whether this is likely to benefit some types of people more than others, and how it might help reduce inequality between different people. In 2022 two additional analyses were published relating to the Resource Spending Review and the Emergency Budget Review.

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) - Ending Destitution Together

We are determined to ensure that Scotland is a fair country where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and where destitution and homelessness are issues of the past. We cannot achieve this until everyone living in our communities has equal rights to access support in times of need, including people in the UK immigration and asylum systems. The Scottish Government and Local Government remain committed to supporting the human rights of those fleeing violence and persecution, as illustrated most recently by the work undertaken to support Ukrainians across Scotland throughout 2022.

In March 2021, we published our Ending Destitution Together Strategy (EDT) which builds on the inquiry by the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee. The Committee highlighted the increased risk of destitution facing those with no recourse to public funds who were found to be increasingly vulnerable to human trafficking, violence, and coercion because of insecure immigration status and restricted access to support services.

NRPF can lead to an increased risk of race discrimination when people apply for public support or engage with public services. The discrimination risk can be caused by assumptions about immigration status and, therefore, presumptions about entitlement to services. Through the strategy, we will work to protect and uphold people’s rights, tackle racism and discrimination. Action 12 in the strategy commits to contributing to the development of the next Race Equality Action Plan to ensure that it considers the challenges faced by people with NRPF and explore what further action can be taken to ensure no one faces destitution.

This first year of progress[32] via the EDT Strategy has included joint work at a national level with key partners to deliver: a Hardship Fund in partnership with the British Red Cross to support those facing destitution including those with no recourse to public funds; work to ensure dignity in the provision of culturally appropriate food for those facing destitution in partnership with the Govan Community Project; the establishment of the Everyone Home Collective which seeks to end destitution and homelessness through aligning the Ending Destitution Together and Ending Homelessness Together strategies; guidance and training for councils on migrant rights and entitlements; increased access to advice and casework support for migrants via a COSLA partnership with the International Organization for Migration; and work piloted by Safe in Scotland and Simon Community Scotland to increase access to mental health support for those facing destitution.

Over the coming year we will look to learn from our experience of supporting those at risk of destitution throughout the pandemic and integrate the voices of those with lived experience of destitution.

Cost of Living campaign

The Cost of Living paid-for-media marketing campaign ran from 28 September 2022 to 22 November 2022, with further PR and partnerships activity running until end December 2022.

Marketing communications has an essential role to play when it comes to increasing awareness of the support available by reaching those worst hit by the cost-of-living crisis, motivating and prompting action to increase uptake of the support available and tackling the known stigma that serves as a barrier to benefit uptake.

The primary audience for the campaign was low-income families with little or no savings, with people from ethnic minority backgrounds being one of the specific groups within this audience who are likely to be disproportionately affected by increases to the cost of living.

The campaign directed people to which brings information about all benefits, support and grants available into one place. A leaflet was produced to reach those people who may have barriers to accessing information online, featuring information and key phone numbers. The leaflet was translated into seven languages, as well as British Sign Language, Easy Read and Audio versions. 300,000 leaflets and 6,500 posters were distributed via Public Health Scotland to GP surgeries, libraries, community centres and leisure centres.

A partnership was also secured with BEMIS to ensure information could be shared to those directly supporting minority ethnic communities across Scotland. Two events were attended by community and third sector leaders where translated leaflets were distributed, and information was included in the Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland (BEMIS) weekly newsletter for four weeks.

Independent research was conducted to evaluate the campaign which found it met or exceeded all SMART marketing objectives. Action taken and tackling the stigma that exists (agreement that the campaign makes them feel okay about seeking support if they need it) was even higher among the core audiences of renters (at 66% and 85% respectively) and lower income parents (78% and 88% respectively) than overall. The BEMIS partnership provided over 1,400 opportunities to see among trusted voices for this priority audience.

The Parental Employability and Financial Support campaign

The Parental Employability and Financial Support campaign ran from 13 February to 26 March 2023 with a particular focus on the six priority family types as defined in Scotland’s tackling child poverty delivery plan, Best Start, Bright Futures, including minority ethnic families.

The campaign acknowledged the overwhelming financial pressure families are facing and highlighted that tailored support is available to help improve their financial situation and employment opportunities. The Parent Club website guided parents and carers to trusted advisors at the Money Talk Team and Local Authority Employment services and also included mental health and wellbeing advice, recognising that this can be impacted by the stress of their situation. In depth qualitative research was undertaken with all six priority family types, ensuring that the campaign was developed to address the specific barriers for families for minority ethnic families.

The campaign was delivered across multiple channels including TV, radio, digital, PR and partnerships. Minority ethnic specific radio stations were included to help ensure as many minority ethnic families as possible were reached. In addition, a leaflet was produced which included information about the key services available and was translated into nine languages including British Sign Language, and alternative formats including Easy Read, Large Print, Audio and Braille. Leaflets and posters were distributed via Public Health Scotland to GP surgeries, libraries, community centres, health boards, primary schools and nurseries (posters only), food banks and health and social care settings (leaflets only). Third sector organisations also received leaflets upon request.

Further partner outreach and support was provided to priority minority ethnic families through key partners including BEMIS, Multi-Cultural Family Base, the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations (CEMVO), the Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project (MECOPP), and Grampian Regional Equality Centre, to help drive deep engagements with the campaign. A campaign toolkit of key messages, social media assets, editorial copy, an A4 printable poster, WhatsApp text and the leaflet in the alternative languages and formats was circulated to partners for further dissemination to key target groups.

Full evaluation of the campaign is still in progress, but initial results are positive showing the campaign met or exceeded all SMART marketing objectives, contributing to the delivery of policy outcomes.

Goal 22: Ensure access to appropriate early learning and childcare for minority ethnic families.

Early Learning and Childcare

Delivery of high-quality Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) experiences for all children is at the heart of the approach to ELC. Through Funding Follows the Child and the National Standard (Criteria 6 – Inclusion), we are committed to reducing inequalities from the earliest years. The Equality Act 2010 is clear that settings must not discriminate in offering a service. This applies both to funded ELC and to privately purchased ELC. Guidance is available for ELC providers.[33]

Inspection has a critically important role in ensuring that children are safe, secure and protected from harm, well cared for and able to flourish, and are offered high quality learning and development experiences. The Care Inspectorate Quality Framework for Day-care of Children, Childminding and School-aged Childcare (quality standard 1.4 - Family Engagement) recognises the need to ensure that children’s and families’ rights are respected and promoted.

We are developing the annual Early Learning and Childcare Census to make it an individual child level collection and to collect more data on the characteristics of children accessing funded ELC, including child ethnicity data. This project has been delayed due to delays with developing a new data management system for use in local authorities and ELC settings which this project is dependent on. They are planning to have the first child level collection of the new process in May 2024, with data being published in autumn 2024.

A new Strategic Framework for Scotland’s Childcare Profession is currently being developed in collaboration with partners, setting out a range of actions to support a high quality ELC profession which represents Scottish society and provides learning and development which embraces the individual and diverse needs and circumstances of children and families.

In addition, professional learning continues to be offered through the Anti-Racism in Education Programme (AREP), into which early years is fully integrated. The following are examples of further activities undertaken to diversify the childcare workforce:

  • Worked with CEMVO to promote employment opportunities among our racialised communities and to help prepare potential recruits to apply to such roles.
  • Via their workforce delivery group invited colleagues who had successfully recruited those from our racialised communities to share best practice with employers across the childcare sector.
  • Via their national recruitment campaign, they featured those from racialised communities in their high-profile TV and online advertising to encourage applications from underrepresented groups in the childcare workforce. The recruitment campaign featured a wide variety of advertising across different media and platforms.[34]

Ensuring that the curriculum is inclusive, reflects the diversity of Scotland and embeds authentic racial and cultural literacy is a further component of supporting access. Through the work of the AREP there will be a new focus on anti-racism in the curriculum with plans for specific guidance and support for the early year’s workforce.

Goal 23: Reduce barriers and provide support for minority ethnic people who are new to the labour market, including school leavers and new migrants.

Young Persons Guarantee

The Young Persons Guarantee was launched as per the recommendation of Sandy Begbie in his Youth Guarantee – No One Left Behind initial report in response to the adverse impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on the opportunities and outcomes for young people (aged 16-24). Through the Young Person’s Guarantee, between November 2020 and March 2023, the Scottish Government invested funding in excess of £175m to create additional opportunities with a focus on those furthest from a positive destination. This has included funding to all 32 Local Authorities to support young people in their areas into a positive destination, with a particular focus on those with protected characteristics and/or multiple barriers to employment. The Guarantee was supported by an equality action plan which was developed in consultation with equalities organisations, such as Intercultural Youth Scotland to ensure that the needs of young people with protected characteristics, i.e. those from ethnic minority backgrounds, were considered in the implementation and delivery of the Guarantee. As part of governance arrangements for the Guarantee, regular meetings were held with the Equalities Subgroup. As we start to mainstream elements of the Guarantee, into the national offer of support for young people, the Equalities Subgroup has been stood down at the end of this financial year (2022-23). We will continue to work with partners in the third sector to develop a whole system approach to supporting all young people, work to eliminate discrimination and ensure that no one is left behind.

Modern apprenticeships

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) lead on the operational delivery of apprentices and take forward work to ensure that the number of individuals from racialised minorities who are apprentices increases to equal the population share. Although work is underway to promote equal access, evidence shows that there are still barriers, and we are committed to identifying, understanding, and addressing these. This will require us to effect systemic change with a cultural shift in career pathways, as well as the recruitment and employment practices of businesses.

The most recent Modern Apprenticeships Statistics, Quarter 3, 2022/23 published in February this year shows the most recent statistics around ethnicity. The ethnicity rate was 3.3% in quarter 3, 0.3 pp higher than the same point last year (3.0%). Although the percentage had increased from previous reporting period it remains under target.

Employment services

In 2023-24 we will provide more than £108m for the delivery of employability support, demonstrating Scottish Ministers commitment to support those who face the most significant challenges in entering and staying in the labour market.

The Scottish approach to employability support, currently delivered through both No One Left Behind and Fair Start Scotland, is underpinned by a commitment to place dignity and respect at the heart of our support services. A key aim is to deliver employment services to those groups with protected characteristics with a view to tackling inequalities in the labour market, whilst playing an essential role in delivering the Scottish Government’s aims of creating a fair and prosperous Scotland, tackling poverty, and promoting inclusion and social justice.

Our employability services are open and accessible to all, regardless of circumstance.

Support is tailored to the individual. Participants from racialised minorities and refugees (among others) have immediate entry to support which considers their personal circumstances and barriers to gaining and sustaining fair work, working in partnership with a range of other services such as health, housing and advice services.

Fair Start Scotland launched successfully on 3 April 2018 and is delivering the devolved employability powers of the 2016 Scotland Act, supporting people with significant barriers towards and into sustainable work through personalised support, tailored to individuals’ circumstances.

Building on the successful delivery of Fair Start Scotland, we are working with local government partners and the public, third and private sector to develop an employability system that delivers joined up, flexible, responsive, person-centred provision through our No One Left Behind approach.

No One Left Behind, launched in April 2019, is our approach to transforming employment support in Scotland. It has a crucial role in achieving our vision for place based, economic transformation and tackling child poverty, aiming to deliver a system that is more tailored and responsive to the needs of people of all ages who want help and support on their journey towards and into work.

Published Statistics show that a total of 29,279 people started receiving support in the first three and a half years of No One Left Behind from April 2019 to September 2022. The overall proportion of participants that were from racialised minorities was 9%. In the most recent quarter (July to September 2022), 9% of participants were from a racialised groups, 85% of participants were white, with ethnicity unknown for the remaining 6%. Monitoring changes to the proportion of racialised minorities over time is difficult due to the fluctuating proportion of unknowns and there is ongoing work to improve data quality and collection.

There have been 54,030 starts on Fair Start Scotland with 18,819 job starts between its launch in April 2018 and end December 2022.

Published statistics show that overall, 6% of people who have joined Fair Start Scotland were from racialised minorities and 73% were white, with ethnicity unknown for the remaining 21% of participants. In the most recent quarter (October - December 2022), 12% of participants were from a racialised group and 82% of participants were white with ethnicity unknown for the remaining 6% of participants.

Of the Fair Start Scotland starts that were from racialised minorities and where enough time has passed in both pre-employment support and to measure job outcomes, 39% went on to start work, compared to 36% of white participants. Small differences were also seen for 13-week outcomes (29% for racialised minorities; 27% for white participants), 26-week outcomes (24% for racialised minorities and 22% for white participants), and 52-week outcomes (18% for racialised minorities and 17% for white participants).

Monitoring changes to the proportion of participants from racialised communities over time is difficult due to the percentage being low and high proportion of unknowns. However, the proportion of unknowns fell to 5% in the most recent quarter (October – December 2022) and 13% across year 4, compared to higher proportions in the earlier years of the service (year 3: 29%). Work continues to improve data quality and collection.

Employability is a key pillar of our second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan and one of the key employability actions in Best Start, Bright Futures is our ‘Offer to Parents’ including those from racialised communities.

5,944 parents received support through No One Left Behind during the period April 2020 – September 2022 (Parental status was not collected from participants in year 1) in which 16% of parents accessing support were from racialised groups. In the latest quarter (July – September 2022) the proportion was 18%.

Of the 722 parents accessing Fair Start Scotland support for the first time, in the most recent quarter (October – December 2022), 17% were from a racialised group. In the previous quarter, 641 parents accessed Fair Start Scotland support for the first time. Overall, of people joining Fair Start Scotland for the first time 10,393 were parents, while there has been 11,247 total parent starts on the service since its launch in April 2018, including participants who have re-joined the service.

Overall, 10% of parents were minority ethnic parents.

Impact assessments were completed during the development of both Fair Start Scotland and No One Left Behind, including an Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA), which supported the inclusion of disadvantaged groups. A new combined and updated EQIA was developed to reflect the second phase of the implementation of No One Left Behind. The EQIA reflects the implementation of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation, the addition of the Young Person’s Guarantee and the Child Poverty Best Start, Bright Futures plan. The EQIA summary was published on 30 September 2022 and will continue to be reviewed as the phased introduction continues.

As a condition of the grant funding agreement, local government areas are required to ensure that support is appropriately tailored to meet individual need and is open and accessible to all. Employability support services are Equality Impact Assessed to ensure that they take account of the protected characteristics of people and to develop an EQIA outlining how they will meet their needs.

We recognise that we need to do more to raise awareness amongst racialised communities to offer employability support across the country.

The Fair Start Scotland continuous improvement action plans have focused on engaging with racialised community groups and other under-represented groups and representative organisations. In 2022-23 pilot work has been delivered by CEMVO Enterprises CIC to look at improving engagement among employers and employability service providers with racialised minorities. This work also included looking at improving EQIA processes across local government. Another output of the pilot was establishing a network of employers, employability service providers and community organisations to support racialised minorities throughout the employment journey. We are exploring how best to maintain the network following conclusion of the pilot, and how it can inform our broader employability service policy and delivery.

ESOL provision

The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that everyone in Scotland whose first language is not English can contribute to Scotland’s future and the society they live in.

The Adult Learning Strategy published in May 2022 includes the strategic actions and expected outcomes which focus on reviewing ESOL provision (action 4) and increasing awareness and strengthening links between Community Learning and Development (CLD) and employability (actions 8 and 11). A key action within the Adult Learning Strategy for Scotland is to undertake a review with ESOL learners and practitioners on the impact of the ESOL Strategy. It will produce recommendations on next steps for ESOL within the context of the Adult Learning Strategy.

Skills Recognition Scotland Programme

The distinct approach to talent attraction, which the Scottish Government is developing with stakeholders, includes recognising skills, experience and qualifications obtained outside the UK. This is the focus of the Skills Recognition Scotland (SRS) Project. Over the past four years the project has developed the processes for employers and people from overseas (including refugees and asylum seekers) to understand the transferability of skills. The Scottish Government is working with stakeholders to embed this work into the skills system, so that more workers and employers can benefit from this process and to attract further talent from the rest of the UK.

Through the Skills Recognition Scotland pilot project, a process has been created to:

  • identify how the individual's qualifications gained out with the UK relate to the levels of the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQF).
  • benchmark the individual's English language level against the Common European Framework for Languages.
  • benchmark the evidence of work-related skills and experience against the levels of the SCQF.

The result is a Skills Profile which the individual can submit as part of a job application. In addition to creating the process outlined above, the SRS Project Team has also developed a strong Quality Assurance process which sets out the role of partner organisations in delivering the SRS service.

Goal 24: Minority ethnic entrepreneurs and business owners have equal access to business and enterprise support.

Our Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2026 set us on a wide-ranging, ambitious and long-term programme to develop the potential of Scotland's social enterprise sector. It described a clear path to stimulating social enterprise activity, developing stronger organisations, and realising market opportunity over a ten-year timeframe. In March 2021, we published the Social Enterprise Action Plan (SEAP) reasserting our long-term vision of social enterprise at the forefront of a new wave of ethical and socially responsible business in Scotland. This action plan has been produced collaboratively with the sector and sits within that overarching strategy, setting the approach to social enterprise over the next 3 years by focussing on three priorities: stimulating the sector, developing stronger organisations and realising market opportunities.

We are working across the Third Sector Unit to ensure that all activity we support is calibrated to tackle the barriers faced by people with protected characteristics. Initial scoping with external stakeholders has informed further research and consideration internally as to what a systematic and embedded approach to equality, diversity and inclusion means in practice. This work is ongoing and informs our approach to promoting equity of access for minority ethnic groups particularly through our funded support programmes. We have, for example, revised the specification for the new business support contract for the third sector following an Equality Impact Assessment to ensure the Just Enterprise consortium partners and advisers delivering the service are trained specifically in approaches to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and proactively promote the service across equality networks. It also includes additional support for the enterprising third sector on how to improve equality data collection, monitoring and reporting going forward, a specific need flagged up in the biennial Social Enterprise in Scotland – Census 2021 , as well as building on tailored support for minority ethnic people through the contract currently delivered by CEMVO.

The Social Enterprise Action Plan Steering Group (SEAP SG) recognises EDI as a priority area for action and has established an EDI subgroup to consider how existing commitments around, for example, increasing Board diversity, can most effectively be achieved, recommendations around improving the knowledge base going forward, as well as identifying other key areas for targeted action responding to available data. The subgroup, whose membership is drawn from a range of people with lived experience working across the social enterprise sector, will report their findings to the SEAP SG during 2023-24 for endorsement and subsequent implementation.

Goal 25: Scotland's public sector workforce is representative of its communities.

Recruitment and retention in Scottish Government

Our approach to recruitment and retention in Scottish Government is guided by the In the Service of Scotland vision and values, which sets a new standard for embedding inclusion into everything that we do. We have two equality outcomes as an employer which are:

  • Outcome 1: our workforce increases in diversity to reflect the general Scottish population by 2025.
  • Outcome 2: foster an inclusive workforce culture and value the contribution of employees from all backgrounds.

The full range of actions we are taking and the progress we are making towards achieving our employer equality outcomes is set out in the Scottish Government Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report 2023 which is published every two years. Specific actions to drive change are set out in our: Race Recruitment and Retention Action Plan (RRRAP), which was published in February 2021.

As of December 2021 3.5% of core staff were from a racialised group. This is up from 2.9% in 2019. In 2021, 6.3% of new joiners to Scottish Government were from a racialised group compared to 4.1% of leavers. Our target is 5% as published in the RRRAP.[35] This population in Scotland has now however risen to 5.8% since publication. Of those applying to Scottish Government as of December 2021, applications from individuals from racialised groups was 10.4%

To help embed a greater understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion, the Scottish Government Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) team developed a refresh of the D&I mandatory objective setting framework based upon anti-racist principles which were developed with the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER). These are accessible for staff on the Scottish Government intranet and provide guidance on how to develop a clearly defined and measurable mandatory D&I objective. This now includes a specific anti-racist example for the Senior Civil Service (SCS) which has been incorporated into the refresh also.



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