Publication - Strategy/plan

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: employment action plan

Published: 11 Dec 2018
Fair Work, Employability and Skills Directorate
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This document outlines the action Scottish Government will take to meet its ambition to at least halve the disability employment gap in Scotland.

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: employment action plan
Ministerial Foreword

Ministerial Foreword

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills

Through the new National Performance Framework, the Scottish Government has set out how we intend to create a Scotland that supports all its people to flourish, and to collectively share in its success. Critical to achieving this is a thriving economy that is driven by inclusive growth, and through which we ensure everyone who wishes to is able to access fair and sustainable employment. We recognise that this is not currently the reality for all, and that there is huge potential within our communities that remains underutilised. This includes many talented disabled people, for whom employment can be an important part of independent living – yet too many are unable to access the labour market, or have had a negative experience.

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People (2016) outlined five key ambitions as part of the Scottish Government's response to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including 'Decent incomes and fairer working lives'. A key element of this is the commitment that was made to at least halve the employment gap between disabled people and the rest of the working age population (the disability employment gap).

We are already taking steps to address this. Fair Start Scotland, which commenced in April 2018, is providing support to disabled people to find work and treating them with fairness, dignity and respect. More effective integration of employment support and services is also key. In No One Left Behind: Next steps for employability support (2018) we have set out actions we will take towards achieving this and, in so doing, improve support for disabled people to enter, stay and progress in work.

But there is far more to do. This plan outlines the next steps we will take to work across government, with employers and other partners to meet our ambition to halve the disability employment gap. It also sets out the timescales for doing so.

We are committed to improving disabled people's access to and experience of employment. We will continue to press for the devolution of services (and resources) to support disabled people in employment, including Access to Work, whilst aiming to offer appropriate and humane support to those who are unable to work.

It is clear that the Scottish Government has a leadership role to play in reducing the gap, both as a policy maker and employer, but it is not something we can achieve on our own. To realise the ambition will require collective leadership and action across public, private, and third sectors. We have agreed a new Partnership Working Framework in Employability with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), which will help facilitate this. So too will the actions in this plan strengthen our partnership with business ensure the disability employment agenda remains at the heart of our fair work ambitions.

Strong labour market conditions alone will not be enough to halve the gap, and we cannot ignore the fact that labour market outcomes for disabled people consistently lag behind those of the wider working population for largely structural reasons. Significant change in culture, attitudes and practice is therefore required and we will work with employers, their representative bodies, local and UK Government, and other key stakeholders in the coming years to effect this change.

This Action Plan will continue to evolve. We will update it based on the identified priorities of disabled people, the support needs of employers, and as the labour market changes. It sits alongside the Fair Work Action Plan and recognises the multiple characteristics of disabled people. For this reason, it will align with other work to address inequality and inclusive growth, whether in the labour market or more generally, including the Child Poverty Delivery Plan and forthcoming Gender Pay Gap Action Plan, and refresh of Keys to Life, Scotland's Learning Disability Strategy, as well as our wider reform of employability services.

We wish to thank our Expert Advisory Group, including disabled people's organisations, for their input to date. Disabled people's lived experience is central to shaping the action we take, and we will continue to work in partnership with disabled people and their organisations, ensuring their voices are at the heart of our work.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan - Strategic Framework

The following table provides an overview of how key action plans and strategies work together to support our ambition for reducing the disability employment gap.


To address barriers to employment for disabled people and seek to reduce, by at least half, the employment gap between disabled people and the rest of the working age population by 2038.


To focus on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through sustainable and inclusive economic growth.


Supporting Employers to Recruit and Retain Disabled People

Supporting Disabled People to Enter Employment

Young People and Transitions

Driver Outcomes

Employers are supported to improve employment practices and provide inclusive workplaces

Disabled people can access the right support, at the right time, to enable them to enter fair work

All disabled young people who want to work, can

Action areas

Up to £1 million towards a Public Social Partnership to support employers to improve employment practice

Develop and deliver a new devolved Specialist Employability Support Service

Reform employability support

Work with employers to deliver a campaign to promote the positive business case for employing disabled people

Address the barriers faced by disabled parents living in households affected by child poverty

Develop a new Careers Strategy to better align career information, advice and guidance services in Scotland

Demonstrate public sector leadership through the setting of targets for Scottish Government recruitment of disabled people

Pilot support similar to Access to Work to support disabled people undertaking work experience or work trials

Improve outcomes for disabled young people in transition from school to training, education or work through Developing the Young Workforce

Overarching Strategies

Labour Market Strategy

Scotland's Economic Strategy

Aligned Plans/ Programmes

Economic Action Plan

Fair Work Action Plan

Gender Pay Gap Action Plan

A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People

Child Poverty Delivery Plan

Fair Start Scotland: Devolved employability services

Keys to Life: Scotland's Learning Disability Strategy

No-One Left Behind: Next steps for the integration and alignment of employability support in Scotland

Review of Employability Services in Scotland

National Outcomes

We have thriving and innovative businesses with quality jobs and fair work for everyone

We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society

We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination

We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally

We grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential

We have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy