Coronavirus (COVID-19) Stakeholder Recovery Roundtable minutes: 5 August 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 5 August 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery
  • Humza Yousaf MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
  • Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth
  • Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training
  • Ben Macpherson MSP, Minister for Social Security and Local Government
  • Frances Mair, Professor of General Practice, University of Glasgow (joining from 15.30)
  • Sally Loudon, Chief Executive, COSLA
  • Steve Grimmond, Chair, SOLACE
  • Louise Macdonald, National Director,  Institute of Directors Scotland
  • Elma Murray, Deputy Chair of DYW and the Chair of Young Scot
  • Lorna Forrest, SCVO 
  • Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, Chairman, Harper McLeod
  • Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, STUC
  • Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde
  • Martin Booth, Executive Director of Financial Services, Glasgow City Council
  • Professor Sir Geoff Palmer, Professor Emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University 
  • Sylvia Douglas, Social Innovation Partnership  - MsMissMrs
  • Jackie Brierton, CEO, GrowBiz
  • Prof Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice Chancellor, University of Edinburgh
  • Karen Watt, SFC Chief Executive, Scottish Funding Council
  • Alan Sherry OBE, Chair of Community Learning and Development Standards Council
  • Ranald Roberston, Director HITRANs
  • Scott Christie, WorkingRite – Social Innovation Partnership 
  • Viana Maya, Prespect – Social Innovation Partnership 
  • Linsay Chalmers, Development Manager, Community Land Scotland
  • Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council
  • Peter Kelly, Director, Poverty Alliance
  • Karen Meechan, Interim CEO , ScotlandIS 
  • Marsha Scott, CEO, Scottish Women’s Aid
  • Lynda Thomson, NatureScot
  • Derek Robertson, Green Action Trust
  • Lorna Jack, CE, Law Society of Scotland
  • Gerry Milne, COO, SACRO
  • Anna Ritchie Allan, Executive Director, Close the Gap


  • Liz Ditchburn, DG Economy 
  • Joe Griffin, DG Education and Justice
  • Elinor Mitchell, DG Health and Social Care
  • Mary McAllan, Director Covid Recovery
  • Clare Hicks, Deputy Director, Covid Recovery
  • Heather Carson, Megan Johnson, secretariat Covid Recovery 
  • Alyson Mitchell, Head of Covid Recovery Engagement
  • Stephen Sadler, Covid Recovery Strategy Team Leader
  • Christina Stokes, Head of Covid Recovery Strategy
  • Carol Tannahill, Chief Social Policy Advisor
  • Colin Cook, Director of Economic Development 
  • Shirley Laing, Director for Housing and Social Justice 
  • Gary Gillespie, Chief Economist
  • Joe Brown, Head of Strategic Business Engagement
  • Adam Reid, Deputy Director Fair Work and Labour Market Strategy

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

This is the third in a series of engagements to discuss Covid Recovery themes.  DFM welcomed everyone to the meeting and set out the need for a whole system response to Covid Recovery.  He reflected on how during Covid barriers had been removed as we had to build bridges and break down false barriers.  

Covid Recovery Strategy: focus on sustainable employment

Professor Carol Tannahill presented slides as background for discussion, explaining why Sustainable Employment would become one of our priorities as part of the Covid Recovery Strategy.  


DFM invited Mr Yousaf to provide opening remarks.  

Mr Yousaf reemphasised DFM’s statement about how important it is to be working internally across government and portfolios. The work on sustainable employment and health recovery are interlinked and it is important to work closely at a local level.  He would welcome any feedback about what has been done well and what has not.  Keen to work in a collaborative and focussed way. 

Carol asked participants to think about the following questions:

  • reactions to this framing – does it capture what you think is needed as the employment focus in the recovery strategy? 
  • on what basis should we prioritise and phase actions?
  • are there any major omissions from our initial assessment of the priority commitments to drive sustainable employment?
  • what are the primary implementation/delivery considerations that we need to attend to? 

Main areas of discussion:


  • there were several comments about the term Sustainable Employment and whether it was suitable.  It was felt that it could be problematic as it means different things to different people and new terminology would be welcome.  


  • there is a need to address structural inequalities which have been exacerbated due to Covid and to be aware that priorities will vary depend as well as geography and socio economic status
  • we need to do more for women and minority groups due to intersectional nature of inequalities. Covid has impacted more on the employment of women, minority ethnic and disabled people the most
  • people in rural communities do not always have the same opportunities due to transport and digital connectivity. This will need to be improved
  • immigrants new to Scotland have had their support services interrupted and wages can be taken up by immigration costs – how do we ensure they get the support they need? 

Recognise good practice and sharing:

  • there was general agreement that there are many good practices and structures at local/regional level and that we should build upon these and share rather than start from scratch
  • we need to think about how these practices are aligned to the national endeavour and how can we best share good practice/learning at a local and national level
  • placed based community settings may translate into urban/national settings
  • the opportunity is there to seek to align the national recovery priorities with the local and regional constructs and programmes which exist and are being developed, recognising the benefits of building on those local arrangements to determine delivery priorities which are place specific, but aligned with and contributing to national recovery ambitions

Employment and reskilling

  • there is already good existing work and structures in place at local level that could be built on
  • the importance of education was raised and how there needs to be a focus on reskilling and upskilling the workforce, ensuring that these opportunities are accessible to all
  • how we can engage with people to encourage lifelong learning, especially those with no qualifications
  • we do not recognise the value of self-employment to the economy and there needs to be better support systems in place
  • we need to promote entrepreneurship as a way of creating good quality and flexible employment. Structures need to support young people and women in particular to gain to capital to start businesses
  • we need to consider employment opportunities across more sectors rather than focussing on a selected few
  • there is a need to remember the older workforce who are in lower paid jobs who have fewer prospects – they do not receive adequate support but could benefit from reskilling/upskilling including digital skills
  • there is a need to ensure support systems are in place to link those furthest away from the job sector to employment opportunities

What to prioritise?

  • we need to think about how can we engage employers to get them to do more
  • the hospitality sector is the only sector currently which is paid under the living wage – we should look at these sectors and think how to engage positively to create better sustainable jobs
  • how we might look at which sectors are experiencing shortages and prioritise them. For example, digital skills need to be better understood – there are a range of jobs, not just coding


DFM thanked colleagues for their considered contributions and shared his reflections and challenges that he took from the discussion.

Five points stood out: 

  • women and minority groups are not currently adequately represented in our thinking and we will reflect on this in further
  • we need to be open to where employment can be created
  • the importance of education, reskilling and upskilling, ensuring that there is the broadest access to these opportunities
  • delivery: How can we operationalise person centred support, with the help of SIPS.  Solutions based around individual is the way forward
  • alignment of interventions: DFM tasked officials with meeting with Local Government colleagues assuring these issues were addressed and finding a way forward

Carol Tannahill thanked participants for their thoughts and assured attendees that the points raised will be included our future thinking.  

DFM again thanked colleagues for their time and their thought provoking contributions.  

Covid Recovery Directorate
August 2021

Back to top