18. EMPLOYMENT AND SKILLS
The purpose of this chapter is to confirm the importance of carer employment, skills development and lifelong learning, recognising the important role of carer-friendly and flexible working practices and to set out actions in support of this.
18.1 Taking on a caring role should not mean that people have to give up work to care. If people have to leave paid employment, reduce hours of work or move into a lower skilled job, they can experience financial hardship through loss of earnings (estimated at £11,822 each year 32) and pension rights.
18.2 The benefits of employment to individuals in society (for example, income, responsibility and respect) should extend to carers. Carers who want and are able to work should be enabled to do so, and should not be discriminated against. They should be supported in the workplace to maintain their employment status.
18.3 The particular challenges faced by BME carers whose communities are characterised by very high levels of self employment, (for example, retail and catering) need to be tackled so that BME carers are not excluded from employment opportunities.
18.4 Carers should have access to lifelong learning opportunities, further and higher education and skills development in ways which take account of their caring responsibilities.
18.5 There is a good economic and business case for supporting carers through introducing and extending flexible working practices. 33
18.6 Employment is reserved to the UK Parliament. However, the Scottish Government, through skills development and economic policies, and the promotion of carer-friendly working practices, can support carers to remain in, or return to, employment or to take up lifelong learning opportunities. Where working age carers have to give up employment to care, there needs to be access to ongoing support.
18.7 It is important to support carers as they begin to plan their route back into work or learning once caring ends.
18.8 The JobCentre Plus programme in Scotland, Work Focused Support for Carers, is in place.
18.9 Many employers have developed carer-friendly policies and effective workplace practices, enabling carers to remain in, or to return to, work. 34
18.10 There is a clear message and vision in the Skills for Scotland Strategy and the Scottish Government's economic policies that we have the potential to do more with the skills available to us. The refreshed Skills Strategy for Scotland will emphasise the importance of skills development for carers and young carers and the skills that carers and young carers bring to employment.
18.11 The Scottish Government is pleased that Skills Development Scotland 35 has undertaken to support carers and young carers in both the short and longer term. Skills Development Scotland has committed to a number of Action Points. Those in relation to young carers are included in the young carers' part of the strategy.
ACTION POINT 18 1
In 2010 and beyond, the Scottish Government will:
- encourage public bodies, 36 through identifying and building on good practice, to promote carer friendly employment practices;
- identify ways in which the Scottish Government can work with employers and others to promote carer friendly employment practices. The Scottish Government's Employability Learning Network ( ELN) will help with this, including consultation with employability stakeholders.
ACTION POINT 18 2
By September 2011, Skills Development Scotland will increase awareness of its services and resources with carers' centres in Scotland, facilitated by the PRTC.
ACTION POINT 18.3
By December 2011, Skills Development Scotland will explore the opportunities afforded to carers by its partnership with JobCentre Plus, to develop an Integrated Employment and Skills service.
ACTION POINT 18.4
By March 2012, Skills Development Scotland ( SDS), the national carer organisations and the network of carers centres will work together to build on good practice to:
- identify the learning, career aspirations and employability requirements of carers;
- identify ways in which SDS services can be more effectively targeted to help carers into training and employment.