Fair work action plan: annual report

This annual report provides an update on progress achieved on actions within the Fair Work Action Plan since its publication in 2019. It also sets out our future priorities for continuing to advance our Fair Work agenda across Scotland as part of our economic recovery and renewal.

3.4. Future Workforce and Business Leaders

Our commitment

Instilling a Fair Work ethos in our future workforce and business leaders.

What we have achieved

To help embed and ensure the long term sustainability of Fair Work in Scottish workplaces we must ensure our future workforce understand the principles of Fair Work, know how they can promote Fair Work practice and the benefits that it can bring to workers and business alike.

Unions into Schools programme

We provided £30,000 funding in 2019/20 and £25,644 in 2020/21 to the Unions into Schools Programme. Through the programme, 23 sessions have been delivered to S3-S6 pupils in 150 secondary schools across Scotland, who have benefited from the experience and expertise of 20 trade union representatives, helping to prepare them for the world of work. Young people have been able to engage directly with union representatives within their schools to increase their awareness of workplace rights, responsibilities and equality issues; and to help them consider their responsibilities as employees and responsible citizens. They have also been able to foster debating skills at STUC Congress and relevant conferences and to understand the important role played by trade unions in the modern workplace.

Developing the Young Workforce

The aim of DYW has been to reduce youth unemployment levels by 40% by 2021 and we achieved this four years early. In response to Covid-19, we have invested additional funding in Employer-Led DYW Regional Groups to help young people transition into the labour market. We also developed and implemented a package of support targeted at the summer leaver cohort in 2020, which included the DYW Skills Academy, a series of virtual Scottish Biggest Parents Events, and E-DYW 1.0, a digital resource hub connecting employers, educators and young people.

Fair Work in Scottish Business Schools

Scottish Business Schools provide a unique opportunity to ensure the next generation of managers and business leaders understand the principles of Fair Work and know how they can promote Fair Work practice and the benefits that it can bring to workers and business alike.

We have sought to understand the extent to which the principles and operation of Fair Work are taught in our business schools. A Review of this teaching was undertaken in 2020, co-led by employment experts from the Universities of Warwick and Glasgow respectively, to assess the salience of Fair Work in schools' curricula and, where gaps are present, to support these business schools to fill those gaps to ensure students get a rich experience of Fair Work. This work has been funded through the University of Warwick's Strategic Priorities Fund; it also involves the Carnegie UK Trust and has the support of the Scottish network of Deans of Business Schools, the Scottish Funding Council and the Scottish Government.

All of Scotland's business and management schools were invited to participate. Reviews of the undergraduate curricula have been completed and initial analyses have been considered with representatives from the business schools, employers, trade unions and civil society across Scotland. This shows some gaps in provision but strong support for Fair Work.

Our future priorities

Since August 2020, Unions into Schools has continued to deliver the programme, using on-line platforms to provide engaging sessions for many classes. Discussions are underway with schools in Wick and Ullapool to expand on-line delivery as part of the 3-year plan for developing Unions into Schools in the Highlands and Islands.

Through the Young Person's Guarantee we have committed to strengthening the DYW offer by assigning £10 million of funding to introduce DYW Regional School Co-ordinators in all secondary schools across Scotland. They will provide support to school management in fulfilling national priorities relating to employability, the Career Education Standard and Work Placement Standard. They will also support employers to effectively engage with young people and introduce them to the work environment. We will also ask employers who agree to support the Guarantee to promote Fair Work principles.

The report from the Review of Fair Work in business schools will be published in early-2021 and shows that most People Management courses in Scottish business and management schools teach some principles of Fair Work. Most modules focusing on people management introduce students to a good range of these principles, even if they rarely use the term 'Fair Work'. There is a strong appetite for developing learning material which facilitates explicit and good understanding of Fair Work in the classroom and one recommendation from the report will be to develop appropriate case studies for undergraduate teaching. Another recommendation will be to extend the review to colleges in Scotland.


Email: Katie.Irvine@gov.scot

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