A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Employment Action Plan - Progress Report

This document provides an update on progress achieved in the first year of implementing A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan.

2. Key Progress to Date

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan (2018) outlined the initial action that the Scottish Government and its agencies will take to help meet its ambition to at least halve the disability employment gap by 2038. This includes activity across a range of policy portfolios, and in this section we provide an overview of some of the key action undertaken in the first 12 months of the plan's implementation. Updates are presented under each of the three key themes of the action plan.

The commitment to at least halve the disability gap in Scotland was announced in 2016, and this is therefore our baseline year. Detailed information of progress in relation to agreed key indicators is provided in section 4 of the report – it should be noted that we utilise full-year data to enable comparison with the baseline, with Jan-Dec 2018 offering the most recent full data set. The figure below shows the initial progress that has been achieved in reducing the disability employment gap.

Figure 1: Disability Employment Gap, Scotland, 2016-2018
Figure 1: Disability Employment Gap, Scotland, 2016-2018

2.1 Supporting Employers to Recruit and Retain Disabled People

Public sector consultation on the employment of disabled people

In 2018 we undertook a consultation on increasing the employment of disabled people in the public sector. A summary of the feedback provided through this exercise, and the Scottish Government's response to the consulation was published in the spring 2019.

Respondents to the consultation provided a clear message that they wanted to see the Scottish Government leading by example, and then utilising the learning from development of its approach to influence the wider public sector. As the first key step in responding to this feedback, we published the Scottish Government's first Recruitment and Retention Plan for Disabled People in August 2019.

Scottish Government Recruitment and Retention Plan for Disabled People

Our Recruitment and Retention Plan outlines how, as an employer, we will support more disabled people to enter the Scottish Government workforce, become an employer of choice, and enable existing disabled employees to thrive and succeed at all levels of our organisation.

We have set a stretching target for external recruitment that, over the next 7 years, on average 25% of successful candidates will be disabled people. This aims to ensure we are on track to deliver on our equality outcome, set in 2017, to increase the diversity of our workforce to be representative of the wider Scottish population by 2025. In effect, we are working towards disabled people representing 19% of our overall workforce, and the actions outlined in the Plan are designed to help us achieve this. We have seen initial progress towards this outcome with 16% of recruits to Scottish Government in 2018 identifying as disabled people, compared to 8% in 2016.

Disabled people were at the heart of the development of the Plan, providing input through a series of workshops. The Council of Scottish Government Unions provided significant contribution and we also drew on the knowledge and expertise of external Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs), as well as our own internal staff diversity networks. This collaborative approach will continue as we deliver the Plan.

To evaluate our work we will measure: recruitment and retention of disabled people in our workforce; changes in the number of disabled staff; and shifts in the number of people already working for us who become disabled. We will use this analysis to review and, if necessary, update the target each year.

As we work to implement the Plan, we will share learning with other Scottish Government bodies and agencies, and make it available to the wider public sector – for example, through our HR network, the Scottish Leaders Forum, and other collective leadership forums for the public sector workforce.

Case Study 1: Scottish Government Recruitment & Retention Plan

Although we are still very much in the early stages of implementing our Recruitment and Retention Action Plan for Disabled People, we are keen to demonstrate some of the action we are already taking:

SG Graduate Development Programme

Scottish Government's Graduate Development Programme (GDP) is highly competitive (2,860 applicants for 21 places in 2019). We recognised the need to increase the diversity of the applicant pool and our talent pipeline. To help widen access to the 2019 programme, we:

  • Undertook a multi-channel communications and engagement campaign - we drew on insights from our internal diversity networks through the creation of a reference group consisting of current GDP members and staff diversity network representatives. This group was involved in every stage of the design and delivery of the campaign. We worked with over 100 organisations spanning university career services and expert bodies such as Inclusion Scotland. We provided a toolkit of key messages to enable partners to promote the campaign on our behalf. Our team also made presentations to key representative organisations.
  • Hosted our first ever three-day conference in summer 2018, to promote opportunities to apply for the 2019 intake. This was aimed at disabled graduates, as well as those from minority ethnic and socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The purpose of the event was to provide 'open door' access to the Scottish Government, offer support with the application process, and develop
    on-going mentoring relationships with existing Scottish Government staff.
  • Provided a single point of contact for additional support and adjustments throughout the selection process.

As a result of these activities, we recruited our most diverse group of graduates ever into the programme in 2019, with 8.7% of the applications received from applicants who identified as disabled people (an increase from 6.7% in 2017). Disabled candidates made up 51.8% of those invited to the assessment centre stage, and 62% of those selected for the final intake.

We are looking at how we apply the lessons learnt from the GDP 2019 campaign across other graduate and apprentice recruitment exercises.

Workplace Adjustments

In our Recruitment and Retention Plan for Disabled People, we have committed to creating accessible workplaces where everyone can thrive at work. A dedicated workplace adjustment project is underway, which embraces the social model of disability.

We are developing a new system to better meet the needs of disabled employees when they wish to request a workplace adjustment and more effectively support managers when they need to arrange an adjustment for their staff. The aims are to improve user experience, deliver better efficiency in meeting the needs of the business, and optimise opportunity for performance for everyone.

Sight Loss

The Scottish Government was shortlisted in November 2019 for an RNIB See Differently Award, in recognition of its efforts to recruit people with sight loss.

Public Appointments

The Ethical Standards Commissioner set the Scottish Government a target that 15% of applications for boards of public bodies should be from disabled people. In the most recent published figures from 2018, 9.4% of applications were from applicants identifying as disabled people. There is still significant work to be undertaken to achieve greater representation from disabled people on boards, and we know that increasing applications alone will not necessarily increase the number of appointees.

Therefore, Scottish Government is undertaking a range of activity to improve representation of disabled people on public body boards – initially focussing on understanding and addressing barriers rather than simply encouraging greater numbers of applications. In 2019/20 Scottish Government have:

  • Provided disabled people with additional opportunities to gain board level experience – working with Inclusion Scotland to provide shadowing opportunities for disabled people and matching six people with public boards;
  • Provided tailored, targeted feedback on applications from disabled people; and
  • Improved signposting and statements about the provision of reasonable adjustments throughout the public appointments process.

Looking forward, in 2020/21 Scottish Government will:

  • Improve disabled people's representation on recruitment panels by providing training for Independent Panel Members in 2020/21;
  • Trial different sorts of application processes and recruitment exercises to test if the outcomes for disabled applicants are improved.

Social Security Scotland – Recruitment & Charter

Social Security Scotland similarly undertook a range of actions to ensure that disabled people were actively encouraged and supported to apply for posts with the new agency:

  • Workshops were delivered to around 650 potential candidates in 2019, with invitations extended through stakeholder networks. At these events, candidates were provided with application advice and information regarding the recruitment process. Workshops will continue and evolve through each recruitment campaign, with stakeholder feedback and local labour market concerns shaping the content of these workshops.
  • Engagement with stakeholders such as employability partners, local communities, third sector organisations, schools, colleges, and universities is maintained on an on-going basis even when there are no live job adverts. This allows resourcing teams to gain continuous feedback on recruitment practices and maintain important connections to support future recruitment campaigns.
  • The agency actively participates in the Scottish Government Inclusive Communications framework, operating on the ethos of accessible communications and diversity of approach to ensure effective engagement with those with different communication needs. Work is ongoing to ensure communications, and job adverts, are in plain English, and to ensure candidate workshops, interview guides, and working documents are fully accessible.
  • The standard qualification requirement for entry level posts in the Scottish Government is 5 Standard Grades or equivalent. This requirement has been removed, and replaced with a numerical and verbal reasoning quiz. For more senior positions, Scottish Government requires a minimum qualification of 3 Higher Qualifications or equivalent. Social Security Scotland have removed this requirement, and provided opportunity for candidates to apply where they have relevant experience to the job role, instead of Higher qualifications.

In addition, the Scottish Government worked with Social Security Scotland and a broad range of stakeholders to produce Our Charter: what you can expect from the Scottish Government and Social Security Scotland, published in February 2019. The Charter explains how the principles of equality and non-discrimination will work in practice, and what people are entitled to expect from the new social security system. Our Charter was co-produced by people with lived experience through a series of workshops held between June 2018 and December 2018. Participants included people in receipt of benefits that will be devolved, many of whom were disabled people. A measurement framework has been developed to measure progress against the commitments in Our Charter.

Health and Work

It is well recognised that health and work are closely interlinked, with fair and sustainable employment contributing to a person's
wellbeing. Equally, we know that ill health can have a negative impact on an individual's ability to secure and sustain employment, and to avail themselves of the wider benefits that can accrue, including financial and social. We also know that disabled people in the UK are almost twice as likely as non-disabled people to fall out of work, and whist not all disabled people have a health condition, we recognise the importance of better understanding and responding to the interaction between health and work.

The Health and Work Support pilot is a two-year pilot running between June 2018 and June 2020 – located in Dundee and Fife. Jointly funded by the UK and Scottish Governments, it is a voluntary programme providing a single point of contact for those who have fallen out of work, or are at risk of doing so as a result of being disabled or having a health condition. Relevant advice and information is also provided to employers.

A key objective is to test different referral approaches and ways of supporting people who access the pilot. In particular, we wish to better understand how the programme supports people with mental health conditions. Of the 2,124 people enrolled into the service (from its launch to the end of December 2019), nearly a third (30%) of those with long-term health conditions or disabilities reported mental health conditions.

Two Improvement Programmes have taken place across Fife and Dundee, bringing teams together to increase enrolments into the service, with learning being gathered around the most effective referral pathways into the service. Delivery teams in both locations have also been exploring additional ways to support people with a mental health condition. This included limiting the number of people case managers work with, to enable them to deliver more clinical interventions.

Healthy Working Lives Fife and Tayside are part of the pilot, and provide tailored support to employers. This includes working with both employees and employers to make reasonable workplace adjustments. They also deliver health related training for employers. An interim evaluation detailing initial findings is due to be published in early 2020. The final report, including an economic analysis, will be published in spring 2021. This report will also consider how effective the pilot has been at supporting people with a mental health condition.

Fair and Healthy Work for All: A review of Scottish Government's Health and Work Strategy was published in November 2019. It makes 23 recommendations on addressing barriers for disabled people and those with health conditions to entering into, and remaining in work, and promoting health and wellbeing in and through the workplace. These include: considering how Health and Work and Fair Work might be more closely aligned in both policy and practice terms; improving the quality of return to work advice provided to employers and employees; and maximising the role of professionals in the wider health and social care system to consider how they can actively contribute to helping people access, remain in and return to Fair and Healthy Work.

Among the five recommendations proposed by stakeholders as issues to be considered as a matter of priority was for Fair and Healthy Work to be an explicit priority across all Directorates of the Scottish Government and its national agencies. We will build on this recommendation over the coming year, to develop a cross-directorate approach to health and work and, following the establishment of a new health body – Public Health Scotland – later this year, maximise the opportunities to jointly deliver against our shared objectives to improve health, wellbeing and work.

Supporting Positive Mental Health

Key to this approach will be continuing the work in progress to improve access to timely and appropriate support for those experiencing mental health issues, as they seek to enter or remain in work. This includes building upon the work of NHS Health Scotland and wider health colleagues with employers to support the development of mentally flourishing workplaces.

Provision of training for employers, line managers, and those involved in delivering employability services is critical. In the last year, this has included delivery by NHS Health Scotland's Health and Work Directorate of training around resilience, wellbeing and mentally healthy workplaces for over 900 people, and training through the Work Positive Programme to provide employers with an understanding of the impact of stress in the workplace. In the coming year, tailored training will also be provided to Fair Start Scotland (FSS) provider case workers to improve their knowledge, skills and ability to identify positive pathways for participants with mental health issues to enter and sustain work. The first course will take place in March and will be evaluated to determine impact on practice by case workers, as well as outcomes for FSS participants.

The first phase of the commitment to provide 300 case managers over the next five years with training based on the National Institute of Disability Management and Research (NIDMAR) programme is underway. The training covers positive employer engagement, as well as exploring creative approaches to supporting employees with mental health issues that impact in the workplace to stay in work. The first cohort of 54 case management students are currently undertaking the 9 month training. Trainees are from a range of services, including: Working Health Services Scotland; Individual Placement and Support; Fair Start Scotland; Health and Work Services; Local Authority Health and Social Care Partnerships, and a range of third sector supported employment programs and services. Experience has shown that through training together, staff participating in NIDMAR have developed better collaborative approaches to delivering improved work outcomes for people with mental health conditions.

Joint work through the Public Mental Health programme and Health and Work directorate has seen development of a framework of standards to promote mentally healthy workplaces. The intention is to test out the standards in 2020, with a view to launch these, together with a Charter and overarching Collaborative, in autumn 2020. This work will also inform the redevelopment of the Healthy Working Lives Award.

Workplace Equality Fund

The Workplace Equality Fund (WEF) provides funding to collaborative projects between the private sector and third sector organisations, with the aim of removing some of the barriers to entering and remaining in the workplace for priority groups, including disabled people.

Through our WEF 19/20 we are funding 23 projects, of which 11 are supporting disabled workers. For example, one of the projects involves Into Work Ltd working with private sector employers, focussing on upskilling staff with a remit for HR and/or hiring and managing. This includes, for example, the provision of practical evidence-based disability awareness training for staff, to help improve understanding and have a positive and long-lasting impact on their practice.

Case Study 2: Workplace Equality Fund

Enable, Scotland's largest charity for people who have learning disabilities, received funding to work with a number of private businesses to improve employment opportunities for minority ethnic people who have a learning disability or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, across the Glasgow city region.

Improvements successfully delivered included:

  • Specialist disability awareness training was delivered to 20 businesses
  • Best practice toolkit for intersectionality, neurodiversity and disability developed and being used by the businesses involved.
  • Modern apprenticeship opportunity was achieved for a young person as a direct result of this project.
  • Businesses were supported to review and improve their diversity and inclusion policies.

Project insight: Client A is a 16 year old student from a Chinese background who is dyslexic. ENABLE Scotland provided bespoke training to the employer on A's support needs, disability awareness and diversity and inclusion best practice. A is now one of the main members of staff and has shown a real flair, enthusiasm and aptitude to the barista part of his job. He has recently been given extra responsibilities, including mentoring school work placements and training other staff.

More information about Enable's Workplace Equality Fund project can be found online.

Public Social Partnership

Public Social Partnerships (PSPs) are voluntary partnerships, through which the public sector links with the third sector (and sometimes also the private sector) to co-design services or interventions based on user needs. Encouraging effective partnership working across sectors, the model aims to ensure that the needs of communities and service users drive service design and delivery.

With support from Ready for Business, we have established a PSP involving employers, government, national disability organisations, and disabled people's organisations to develop solutions to address gaps in employer knowledge and expertise in recruiting and retaining disabled people. Initial activity has focussed on bringing partners together, agreeing a Memorandum of Understanding, and appointment by the partnership of a lead partner.

In spring 2020, the PSP will move to the activation phase with handover to the nominated lead partner, Scottish Union of Supported Employment (SUSE), who will support the Partnership to develop and deliver its work programme over the next two years.

Business and Enterprise Support

The Scottish Government is working with Scottish Enterprise (SE), and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to ensure that case managers have the skills and knowledge to promote the business benefits of the employment of disabled workers to businesses seeking to grow. This includes raising case managers' awareness of disability equality issues and good employment practice (e.g. the requirement to have a diverse workforce under the refreshed Scottish Business Pledge.

In addition, two programmes are being delivered to provide practical support to businesses: Accessing Invisible Talent, which raises awareness of the benefits of diverse workforces, and Diversity Placements, which supports placements in start-up and growth companies for those from under-represented groups or disadvantaged backgrounds. These programmes include awareness training for SE and HIE client support colleagues. Their account managers also continue to work with companies such as Barclays and Previse/Auticon to provide advice on employing disabled people.

In addition, the Scottish Business Pledge was relaunched on 10 October 2019, with explicit reference to disabled people now included in the Skilled and Diverse Workforce element. This redesigned element includes indicators of what businesses should be doing to create more diverse and balanced workforces, and links to guidance and support to help them progress towards achieving this. The Business Pledge team are holding monthly business-to-business learning events on the various Pledge elements. Disability equality will be incorporated into the Skilled and Diverse Workforce element at a future event.

Through our Fair Work First flagship policy, we are working to ensure that fair and sustainable employment practices are adopted by employers across Scotland. Fair Work First uses the government's financial powers to encourage and reward employers who adopt Fair Work by attaching criteria to grants, other funding streams, and contracts awarded by and across the public sector. As such, employers are being asked to commit to: no inappropriate use of zero hours contracts; action to tackle the gender pay gap; genuine workforce engagement (e.g. trade union recognition); and payment of the Real Living Wage. The criteria recognise particular challenges in the labour market which can be addressed to substantially improve employment outcomes for people.

Fair Work First guidance is available through the Fair Work Action Plan, explaining the benefits to individuals and organisations, and providing examples of what each of the criterion means in practice. This aims to help employers wishing to access funding and contracts to focus their delivery on practical action that will lead to fairer work practice and more diverse and inclusive workplaces, with equal opportunity for disabled people, women, older workers, those from minority ethnic backgrounds, and other under-represented groups. It will also enable public sector funders and buyers to monitor the positive change being made through the Fair Work First approach.

Employers are encouraged to build on good practice, with draft guidance including having policies and practices in place across the organisation to address the gender pay gap and ensure equal opportunities for minority ethnic groups, disabled people and older workers. This includes, for example:

  • availability of flexible working from day one for those who want it (unless there is a compelling business reason preventing this);
  • recruitment, retention and promotion processes to prevent bias and barriers (e.g. ensuring applications are anonymised prior to sifting, candidates are asked about any additional support/adjustments they require for interview, and interview panels reflect diversity);
  • women, older workers, people from minority ethnic backgrounds and disabled people help to write job adverts to ensure the language and content is appropriate for the groups they represent;
  • employers are aware of, and promote additional support available to disabled employees who may require workplace adjustments (e.g. Access to Work).

2.2 Supporting Disabled People to Enter Employment

Fair Start Scotland

In April 2018, the Scottish Government introduced its first fully devolved employability service: Fair Start Scotland (FSS). The service aims to support a minimum of 38,000 people who want help to find and stay in work, and for whom work is a reasonable objective.

Delivered across nine geographical areas – intended to align with specific local labour markets, whilst ensuring a consistent national standard of service delivery – Fair Start Scotland supports the Scottish Government's values of public services which are person-centred and delivered with dignity and respect. Since its launch, to December 2019:

  • 19,003 people joined FSS;
  • 51% of FSS participants have indicated they are disabled. An additional 14% of people joining the service reported a long-term health condition that did not limit their daily activities;
  • Not everyone participating in the service has yet had enough time to achieve job outcomes. However, 46% of those achieving 3 month job outcomes were disabled people.

Through our continuous improvement approach with FSS providers, we are looking to improve retention and job outcomes as the service matures, and we are committed to reviewing the delivery of Individual and Placement Support.

Procurement Tools and Guidance

We committed to develop our sustainable procurement tools and guidance to help buyers across the public sector in Scotland identify and pursue equality outcomes in procurement, and to highlight the opportunity and need to use public procurement in Scotland to achieve employment of disabled people.

The sustainable procurement tools and guidance have been updated and are now live. Buyers across the public sector in Scotland are being encouraged to consider equality systematically alongside other socio-economic and environmental factors through use of the revised tools and guidance.

As an example of the contribution to Scotland's purpose and values that can be achieved through inclusion of community benefit requirements in relevant public contracts and framework agreements, the contract for the Discovery phase for Disability Benefits has created a permanent position of employment with the contractor for a disabled person following a three month internship. We are continuing to promote awareness of disability employment as a Scottish Government priority to contractors across the procurement landscape, and to look for opportunities to identify and pursue equality outcomes in relevant procurements.

DWP and Access to Work

Access to Work is a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people enter or stay in work. It can provide practical and financial support for disabled people or those with a long-term physical impairment or mental health condition. Support can be provided where someone needs help or adaptations beyond reasonable adjustments, and is available to both employees and
self-employed people.

The Scottish Government has, on a number of occasions, asked the UK Government for Access to Work to be devolved as we believe this will allow us to use localised knowledge to improve the experience of disabled people accessing this support. The continued reservation of Access to Work when all contracted employment support for disabled people and all disability benefits are being devolved to Scotland is an anomaly that neither we nor our partner DPOs believe should continue. The UK Government have repeatedly told us (most recently in September 2019), that Access to Work will not be devolved and that DWP will continue with Access to Work provision in Scotland using its existing powers and associated funding. We will continue to press for devolution.

In the absence of it being a devolved responsibility, we are further developing our collaboration with DWP to ensure disabled people in Scotland are aware of, and able to access the support available through Access to Work. In particular this has seen us contribute to the revision of the Access to Work Staff Guide to clarify that in certain circumstances people undertaking work experience and work trials may be eligible for Access to Work. In the coming year we will work with DWP colleagues to identify opportunities to promote and raise awareness of Access to Work in Scotland.

City Regions and Regional Growth Deals

Regional Growth Deals are agreements between the Scottish Government, UK Government and local government designed to bring about long-term strategic approaches to improving regional economies. There are 6 City Deals and 6 Growth Deals either operational or in development. These deals are underpinned by a commitment by the Scottish Government and partners to Inclusive Growth. An Equalities and Investment Lead will work across the Deals to identify and disseminate good practice, and ensure equalities underpin their respective activities.

The City Deal with the largest investment in employability and skills is Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal. This deal has been operational for over a year and the employability and skills programme is committed to addressing some of the long standing inequalities across the city region, including the disability employment gap. Work either in progress or proposed includes:

  • facilitating opportunities for disabled people and those with long-term health conditions to move into higher skilled, higher paid employment;
  • provision of an Intensive Family Support (IFS) Service for up to 100 families in areas of high need and disadvantage who require a more intensive whole family support service over a longer period to enable them to benefit from economic prosperity and inclusive growth – this will include families with disabled parents;
  • improving the use of labour market analysis to support Inclusive Growth and ensure disabled people, and other groups facing barriers to the labour market, are supported to develop the necessary skills to work in growth sectors or areas experiencing skills shortages. For example:
    • Research is being undertaken into the primary skills needs of the health and social care sector;
    • A refreshed labour market toolkit will enable those offering careers advice to individuals to better understand the range of opportunities which are available in key sectors;
    • Commissioned research in and across key sectors will consider how they can better support disabled people through improved recruitment practice, and by providing additional opportunities through re-training and upskilling;
    • A working group being led by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has been exploring how best to increase opportunities for people who are
      neurodivergent in tech roles.
    • Initial discussions are underway to explore how the Housing Construction and Infrastructure Skills Gateway can improve access to sectoral opportunities for disabled people.

Improving Accessibility of Transport

Reliable, safe, and affordable transport networks are critical to enabling many of Scotland's workforce to access employment opportunities, yet we know that travel can pose a barrier to many disabled people. Tackling global climate change is an important priority for the Scottish Government, so sustainable and accessible public transport systems are central to supporting the movement of people.

Scotland's Accessible Travel Framework: Going Further was produced in 2016, after two years of partnership working with disabled people in the spirit of "nothing about us, without us". The Framework's vision is that "All disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens." It consists of 48 issues and supported by 4 outcomes as follows:

  • more disabled people make successful door-to-door journeys, more often;
  • disabled people are more involved in the design, development and improvement of transport policies, services and infrastructure;
  • everyone involved in delivering transport information, services and infrastructure will help to enable disabled people to travel;
  • disabled people feel comfortable and safe using public transport – this includes being free from hate crime, bullying and harassment when travelling.

In 2019, we moved to an annual delivery model focussing on 8 priority areas - these case studies focus on two areas provided by ScotRail and Disability Equality Scotland.

Case Study 3: Improving the Accessibility & Safety of Public Transport

Passenger Assistance

All train and station operators participate in Passenger Assist as part of their licence conditions. They produce a booklet called Making rail accessible: Helping older and disabled people, which outlines what they do, types of assistance they offer, and how accessible services and stations are. The information helps customers to understand what help is available and what to expect when travelling by train. Passenger Assist is a free service to help disabled passengers and anyone who needs help with their journey – it is designed to build confidence in the use of rail by those who may otherwise not undertake the journey without a little help.

The assisted travel service is provided to anyone who needs assistance due to being disabled, a temporary health issue, or age and no proof is required to book the service. The service can be anything – from help with luggage, to finding a seat, to help to getting on and off the train or while moving around stations. Currently, ScotRail offer an opportunity to book assistance at least two hours in advance, with the intention to reducing this further to one hour by 2021 – this compares with 24 hours by most other operators across the UK.

In addition to staff at the station who can help, all rail operators also provide a telephone number for passengers to contact to book assistance.

Research has shown that communication is vital to delivering a successful service. Mystery shopping is regularly carried out to better understand passengers' experience of using the service and ScotRail has achieved scores of around 85% satisfaction. Results on how operators are performing, including the figures indicating usage of Passenger Assist, are published by the Office of Rail and Road in their Measuring Up Report.

Hate Crime Charter

Funded by Transport Scotland, Disability Equality Scotland led a working group to design, develop and pilot a Hate Crime Charter which would act as a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime on public transport. It was intended to challenge hate crime and encourage reporting, linking directly to the outcome within the Accessible Travel Framework which works towards ensuring disabled people feel comfortable and safe to travel on public transport.

This work was necessary as we recognise that from approximately 7,000 reports of Hate Crime to the Police a year in Scotland, around 97% of hate crime perpetrated against disabled people goes unreported.

Disability Equality Scotland, together with Police Scotland, SEStran and Transport Scotland consulted with disabled people on the benefits of a Hate Crime Charter and these discussions helped to inform the development of three designs, each featuring easy read images.

A pilot phase ran from October 2019 – January 2020, with the Charter displayed by Stagecoach and First Bus on buses in Leven and Stirlingshire, and ScotRail stations across Fife. The Charter reached over 1,255,666 passengers during this time.

The evaluation of the pilot is underway, and early indications are that the Charter had a positive impact on both passengers and transport staff. Disabled people suggested that the Charter made them feel more secure, as it made clear who to contact in an incident, while raising awareness of the topic of hate crime. Transport staff indicated their awareness and confidence in recognising and reporting hate crime had increased during the pilot phase.

Specialist Employability Support

Specialist Employability Support (SES) contracts, previously operated by the UK Government's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), concluded in December 2019, and the service has subsequently been devolved in line with the Scotland Act 2016.

Whilst SES was a relatively small programme, it was designed to meet the needs of those further away from the labour market and requiring more intensive employability support. We are committed to ensuring there is no loss of support for those who would have been eligible and, in the first instance, support will be maintained through Fair Start Scotland and other employability services being delivered nationally and locally.

2.3 Young People and Transitions


Scottish Government's Children and Families Directorate have been working with the Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group and the Young Disabled People's Forum to develop a program of work to improve transitions, informed by voices of disabled children and young people.

The Getting it right for every child policy and practice refresh is in progress and offers an opportunity to promote and support good practice around consideration of wellbeing for disabled children and young people in the context of their family, unique circumstances and whole world. This means wellbeing can be considered holistically and solutions developed in partnership with the family. Where there is a need for support across services, a lead professional can be identified to develop a child's plan and proactively support the child, young person and parent's involvement to ensure they remain central to the process.

Work is also being undertaken with the Association for Real Change (ARC) to explore how the Seven Principles of Good Transitions could be developed into practice guidance to improve the experiences of families across Scotland and provide practitioners with a framework to measure their work on Transitions. Currently in the developmental stages, local authorities who wish to pilot the resource are being identified.

Improving transitions is a complex challenge requiring a coordinated approach. The Scottish Government has recently set up a new cross-policy working group to create opportunities for more cohesive and impactful activity to affect real change in culture, systems and practice so that disabled children and young people are better supported through transitions.

Careers Advice

Scotland's Careers Strategy: Moving Forward was published on 18 February 2020, fulfilling a commitment within the 2019-20 Programme for Government. During the development of this plan a Steering Group was established with cross-sectoral representation (e.g. SDS, Department for Work and Pensions, Education Scotland, Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland, and external specialists in Career Services). In addition, Scottish Government policy colleagues provided advice, ensuring the strategy aligns with other key government priorities (e.g. No One Left Behind: Review of Employability Services, the Future Skills Action Plan, and the Learner Journey Review).

Reflecting the aims of the Learner Journey recommendation 3 (i.e. "We will ensure learners in schools, colleges and universities receive a joined-up approach to careers, information, advice and guidance"), a key tenet of the strategy is enhanced collaboration across partners involved in delivering careers information and guidance in school, college, university and beyond.

The Careers Strategy ambitions are high level and overarching. Following publication of the plan, next steps include establishing a group to facilitate the development of an overarching implementation plan, which will include sector-specific recommendations. It is anticipated that the implementation group will convene in March 2020, with the implementation plan to be published by the end of 2020.

Key to achieving appropriate support for young disabled people to move towards and into employment will be ensuring their involvement in development of the Careers Strategy implementation plan. We will be conducting a series of consultation events over the coming months to ensure that each service within the careers sector considers how they ensure equity of access and quality of service for all users, particularly those most vulnerable, when considering how to meet the ambitions of the strategy within their institutions.

This will help ensure appropriate consideration is given to how delivery of career services will also address issues around barriers for disabled people, gender stereotyping, and fair opportunities for all in order to deliver our commitments within A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan, as well as our Fair Work, Skills, Gender Pay Gap and Race Equality action plans.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) published their Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) Equality Action Plan in December 2019. This plan was developed based on the views of customers from equality groups and through consultation with equality partners. The actions build on the ongoing delivery of CIAG service offers from the transition from Primary School to Secondary school and onwards, as well as support to customers to develop their Career Management Skills (CMS).

Within the plan, there are actions to disseminate, to customers from equality groups, information on initiatives to widen access to a range of career options. The plan also highlights engagement with parents and carers, for example through Scotland's Big Parents Evening, as a key opportunity to share this information in the interests of broadening horizons and raising aspirations of young disabled people.

A further action in the plan is to develop a set of resources to support the development of CMS for young disabled people, including building resilience and raising their aspirations. SDS will be working with the Association for Real Change (ARC) Scotland and their National Involvement Network and the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) to support the development of this resource. Through this collaboration, SDS will be able to identify what works in supporting young disabled people and build this into the resource.

The SDS Work-Based Learning (WBL) team publishes an equality action plan update annually, outlining the work delivered with training providers in relation to upskilling providers across equality groups including disability. Training providers are also able to access the highest levels of funding for disabled individuals up to the age of 29, in recognition of potential longer learning journeys and participation at a slightly older age.

Future Skills Action Plan

Scotland's Future Skills Action Plan was published in September 2019, setting out the Scottish Government's vision to help learners, workers and businesses to secure Scotland's future skills needs to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The accompanying evidence and analysis paper to this plan recognises that disabled people face a range of barriers to employment, and are more likely than non-disabled people to work part time. Hours-based underemployment for disabled people is consistently higher than for non-disabled people. The plan notes that increasing the skills levels of disabled people can help make a difference.

The publication of Phase One of this plan fulfils Scottish Government's commitment to respond to the four key future skills recommendations. This includes acceleration of the implementation of the Learner Journey Review.

As part of Phase Two, the Scottish Government are engaging with all of those involved in the system, including learners, businesses, and those delivering skills support. In relation to the specific work on equalities and disabled people, meetings with representatives from Glasgow Disability Alliance, Stonewall, the Commission for Racial Equality and Rights, and Close the Gap have been held to gain a deeper understanding of the barriers faced, in work and the skills system, by the communities they serve. An advisory group will be set up alongside the Programme Board, and will include disabled people to ensure their voice is heard in the development of policy proposals. An update of the plan is expected to be published later this year.

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)

DYW continues to make an important contribution towards promoting inclusive growth within Scotland's economy. Through the expansion of new work-based learning opportunities, DYW helps improve the opportunities, life chances and wellbeing of all young people.

The national DYW group have also been asked by the DYW programme board to evidence what has been done to support disabled and care experienced young people. In response a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) working group was established with some of the regional leads and from April 2020 DYW groups will be measured against the equality KPI below:

"By working collaboratively with specialist partners, local authority leads and all schools in your region, ensure that there are increased opportunities for disabled and care experienced young people to participate in a suitable and meaningful work placement or access to a mentoring opportunity."

The measurements of this KPI are:

  • Production of a case study to evidence working with specialist partners to support disabled or care experienced young people in any work readiness activity.
  • Number of employers supported by the Regional Group to offer a work placement or mentoring opportunity to disabled young people.
  • Number of employers supported by the Regional Group to offer a work placement or mentoring opportunity to care experienced young people.
  • Evidence of any specific activities undertaken by the Regional Group to support employers.

A DYW Conference will also be held early this year, to outline the new KPI's and the future of the programme.


SDS administers Scottish Apprenticeships on behalf of the Scottish Government, including Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs), Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), and Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs).

A Modern Apprenticeship (MA) allows people to work, learn and earn at the same time – combining on-the-job experience with the opportunity to gain an accredited qualification across a range of sectors, including: healthcare; financial services; construction; and IT. With approximately 92% of MAs remaining in work once they're qualified, MAs provide an important opportunity to increase Scotland's skills base, whilst also helping to support young people to gain employment.

The proportion of MA starts in 2018/19 self-identifying as disabled or having a health condition was 14.1% (3,771), which was 2.8 percentage points higher than the previous year.

In seeking to improve disabled people's access to the MA programme, activities undertaken by SDS have included the following.

  • Working with schools, learning providers, local DYW groups and employers to ensure awareness of the programme, promote the benefits of equality and an inclusive workforce, and address the issues and challenges that contribute to under-representation of groups including disabled people.
  • Increased partnership with local community groups to develop appropriate messaging and communication channels/tools to reach different audiences.
  • Work with Enable and Open Doors Scotland to support disabled young people through their Modern Apprenticeships.
  • Partnership with the British Deaf Association Scotland work to raise awareness of apprenticeship opportunities available to Deaf young people in Scotland.

As of the end of 2018/19, progress against the targets identified by the Scottish Government in Developing Scotland's Young Workforce for MAs are as follows:

Figure 2: Progress towards targets for MA starts
Measure 2021 target (%) Actual
Year   2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
% of MA starts self-identified as disabled or with a health condition 12.5 3.7 8.1 11.3 14.1

The Scottish Government and SDS are committed to equality of opportunity within the Apprenticeships family, and to ensuring continuous improvement. SDS published its Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan (EAP) Year 3 update in July 2019. Work in progress includes:

  • evaluation of the enhanced funding for disabled and care experienced MAs;
  • evaluation of the second cohort on the Accessible Fife programme to help young disabled people and/or those with a health condition to access apprenticeships;
  • publishing outcomes on strengths and improvements in MAs identified by Quality Assessors to enhance and refine equality asks of providers;
  • a review of guidance and online information, ensuring learning providers have access to up-to-date information and resources for attracting and retaining diverse talent.

Case Ctudy 4: Inclusion Scotland Internship programme

Inclusion Scotland are funded by Scottish Government to run, We Can Work, an internship programme which gives valuable paid work experience to help disabled people develop their careers. Four out of five of We Can Work interns gain successful employment within their chosen aspirational career field or progress to further education.

Inclusion Scotland have been highlighting the benefits of implementing the Social Model of Disability in the private sector and helping to remove the fear of getting it wrong, as well as creating safe spaces for employers to honestly discuss their experiences and understandings of disability inclusion.

One public body took part in the internship programme last year, and have used the learning to ring fence 2 posts for this year's cohort for disabled applicants, evidencing the legacy and leading on positive action from our work together. With a recognised skills gap emerging in the digital and technology sector, which companies are keen to address and reach more potential talent, Inclusion Scotland are in discussion with Skyscanner and three other global tech companies to set up We Can Work internships, mutual benefit partnerships and other accessible practice support.

Work is also being undertaken with the Law Society and Glasgow Science Centre as a sounding board for their respective disability inclusion developments, including signposting to other disabled people's organisations for impairment-specific training and support.

Two core training models have been developed: The recruitment and retention of disabled people and mental health recruitment and in-work support. These have been delivered to hotel groups and local councils in the central belt and outside in more rural locations.

Inclusion Scotland also hosted their first private sector event in December 2019: The Future is Accessible: International Day for Disabled People, which introduced employers to the We Can Work internship program, providing them with solutions and resources such as an accessible social media guide. Inclusion Scotland were supported by previous and current participants in the programme, including STV, SDS, Sopra Steria, Scottish Government, Momentum and previous and current interns. We also gained new support from Microsoft and Anderson Strathern who both took an active role at the event.

Looking to the future, Inclusion are in discussion with Diversity Awards agencies, national professional societies, higher education authorities and University Business Schools to increase awareness of the programme and opportunities to develop further resources (e.g. toolkits, industry reports, inclusion standards based on lived experience). Improvements are also being made to evaluation of the programme, in order to better capture: system and organisational change achieved; experience of employers taking part; and longer-term impact of the internship programme and wider support provided. In addition, it is proposed to create a talent bank of previous applicants for future roles and matching opportunities.

Supporting people with learning disabilities

Whilst action needs to be taken to improve employment opportunities for all disabled people, we recognise that impairment-specific groups can be disproportionately affected by the disability employment gap, including people with learning disabilities. We also know that improved data collection can assist in understanding the scale of the challenge for particular groups.

The Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities (SCLD) is the lead strategic partner to the Scottish Government in the delivery of learning disability strategy and policy. SCLD produces an annual report of data for adults with learning disabilities, obtaining directly from local authorities – with their latest report published at the end of 2019.

The report suggests that of the 23,584 adults with learning disabilities known to local authorities across Scotland, only 956 (4.1%) were known to be in employment, whilst 44.4% were known not to be in employment. The employment status of the remaining 51.5% was not recorded, highlighting the need to continue to improve data collected by employment programmes – across providers and not just at local authority level.

Nonetheless, it is certain that more needs to be done to improve the support for people with learning disabilities, including in relation to accessing and sustaining employment. In March 2019, the Scottish Government published The Keys to Life: Unlocking futures for people with learning disabilities – priorities 2019 - 2021. The new framework takes a whole person and whole life approach. It considers children, young people and adults, and looks at priorities under four themes of living, learning, working and wellbeing.

As outlined in our Action Plan, and consistent with the objectives of the framework, we have committed to undertaking a review of Supported Employment provision across Scotland. Initial work was undertaken in 2019, to gain an understanding of current provision across local authorities and within Fair Start Scotland. Further work will be commissioned in 2020 (see section 4 of this report) in order to complete this review.

Independent Living Fund Scotland

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) Scotland Transition Fund provides grants, for up to one year, to support young disabled people aged between 16-25 years with the transition to be more independent. Co-produced with disabled young people, in the first 18 months the fund's focus has been young disabled people leaving school and accessing adult services.

Since its launch in 2017/18, the Transitions Fund has, to date, received just over 2,000 applications, with over £3.25 million in grants approved to over 1,300 young people across every local authority area in Scotland. The average grant awarded is around £2,500, demonstrating that a relatively small resource can have a significant impact on a young disabled person's life. The purpose for which grants are awarded varies, but includes equipment and services which can have a positive impact on young people's ability to access the world of work, including support for driving lessons, computer equipment, etc.

Recipient satisfaction is currently 95% (based on a response rate of 28%). The fund has also won numerous external National awards, including a Scottish Public Sector Award in 2016, an innovation award at the UK CIPFA Public Finances 2019 and Top 3 in the 2019 Guardian Public Sector Awards, and a finalist in the 2019 CIPR Pride Awards for Scotland.


Email: sarah.wardrop@gov.scot

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