Gender pay gap action plan: annual report

This progress report provides an update on actions within the Fairer Scotland for Women: Gender Pay Gap Action Plan since publication in 2019. It also sets out our future priorities for continuing to advance work on this issue across Scottish Government as part of our economic recovery and renewal.

Chapter 5 Post School & Skills Training

We know that as young women and girls commence on their journey from school to post school training their ideas on the types of jobs or career training they wish to embark on may already be fixed. This results in girls and boys being concentrated in training frameworks and choosing course subjects based on existing gender stereotypes. For girls this limits their potential to access well-paid occupations and careers such as those available in STEM occupations and perpetuates gender pay gaps in these sectors. Even for those women and girls who undertake training opportunities in non-traditional sectors they often do not use their qualifications or experience to enter such jobs due to discriminatory recruitment and workplace practices or leave jobs early due to a lack of support and feelings of being undervalued compared to their male counterparts. 

This chapter will look at the work taken forward since publication of our gender pay gap action plan in 2019 and how the drivers of the gender pay gap have been addressed throughout the post-schools training and skills systems. It looks at what inroads the SFC, further and higher education institutions, SDS and contracted training providers have been making to improve equality and diversity through their Equality Action Plans. 

Actions to be taken forward were inevitably impacted by the onset of COVID-19 which resulted in some actions being postponed or delayed. We know that COVID-19 is having a disproportionate economic effect on young people especially young women, reducing job opportunities just as they are starting out on their careers. For example, the employment rate of people aged 16-24 in Scotland fell by 7.0 percentage points over the year from October 2019 to September 2020, far higher than any other age group.[18] We also know that young people leaving education or training this summer 2021 are likely to be particularly vulnerable to unemployment and long-term employment 'scarring' due to the sectors being most impacted by restrictions, for example Accommodation & Food (being large employers of young people.) Over 40% of young people in employment in Scotland work in the Wholesale & Retail and Accommodation & Food sectors, sectors dominated by women.[19] Brexit is expected to be a further drag on economic growth in Scotland and may further weaken younger people's job prospects.[20]

Tackling occupational segregation 

The Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB) Gender Commission first met in October 2019. The group includes employers, STUC, education experts and a parent representative and was set up to address an identified gender imbalance in apprenticeships, to identify what works and what can be done to improve the balance in uptake. It is expected to draw preliminary conclusions in early 2021, with final recommendations to lead and shape the business response later in 2021.

The work complements existing activity on gender segregation in the workplace although it will be the first of its kind to do so specifically through the lens of apprenticeships and work-based learning in Scotland. The Commission's terms of reference are available on the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) website. SDS provides governance support to the Gender Commission, its work however remains within the guidance and remit of the SAAB. Since the onset of COVID–19 the Gender Commission has met remotely holding regular thematic workshops. 

COVID-19 has affected the uptake of Apprenticeships. Official statistics published on 9 February 2021 show at the end of Quarter 3 2020-21 there have been 10,604 Modern Apprenticeship starts. This is a decrease of 50.1% on the number of starts at the same time the previous year. 

The most recent statistics published by Skills Development Scotland show that at the end of Quarter 3 2020-21, 38% (4,000) of starts were female and 62% (6,604) were male. 

The number of starts by gender and occupational grouping at the end of Q3
2020-21 shows that males still dominate sectors such as construction (2,988 starts as opposed to 69 female starts), engineering (687 male starts as opposed to 46 female starts) and IT and other services (688 males compared to 342 females) Females still dominates industrial sectors such as sport, health and social care (2,232 females compared to 352 males) and Administrative and related (192 female starts compared to 61 males).

Gendered norms continue to exist in the subjects undertaken by students at further education colleges in Scotland. The 2019 Audit Scotland report[19] shows that females still dominate classes such as Health and Social Work while males continue to enrol in classes such engineering, transport and construction, concluding that more change is needed to achieve gender balance across important subject areas.

Read an example of working mum who took the chance to work, earn and learn while gaining her Engineering, Design and Manufacturing degree. 

"My managing director thought I'd be a good fit for this opportunity. The Graduate Apprenticeship fits around my life and means I'm not spending lots of time away from my family.' Katy Beckett

SFC held their annual Gender Conference in January 2020. This event celebrated good practice within the HE/FE sector, and provided practical actions for institutions to advance and promote the themes of SFC's gender action plan (GAP). SFC also developed a network of institutional leads to continue to share best practice across the sector and drive forward work relating to the GAP. Work taken forward by the Gender Governance Group, overseeing the implementation of the GAP, was unfortunately suspended as a result of COVID-19 and this included the publication of updated institutional gender action plans. SFC is now working to streamline equalities work and has developed a Memorandum of Understanding with the EHRC to work together to identify persistent inequalities in the College and University Sectors. This will align with their broader review of provision and sustainability of the sector. This activity will inform new equality outcomes for the SFC to be set by April 2021.

Promoting equality and diversity on Boards to identify opportunities to increase gender equality, including intersectionality, awareness in the training programme they run for board and staff members has been taken forward by the College Development Network (CDN). 

This is a regular item at the Secretary to the Board Network which has included presentations from the Scottish Government Public Appointments team, the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, and the Scottish Government's Public Bodies Unit and Equality Unit

College Development Network (CDN) has supported over 953 board members through its board training and development programme training, and has 398 members registered and participating in the collaborative online governance hub. Diversity and team building have been embedded into the national board development programme, with a number of workshops in partnership with Changing the Chemistry and the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland to further develop an understanding of how board diversity supports good governance. The first ever Virtual College Leadership and Governance Summit took place in April 2020, with sessions including 'Technology as an enabler in 2030'; 'The Three Horizons of Change'; and 'Creative Governance for an Innovative Sector'.

SG College Governance team have also worked with CDN to encourage Colleges to engage with Changing the Chemistry when recruiting board members and in their advertising strategies when SG is recruiting for the Chairs of their college.

The Scottish Government, via the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), provides funding to AdvanceHE (formerly the Equality Challenge Unit) in Scotland. Funding is in place with AdvanceHE until July 2021, an element of which supports the Athena Swan network in Scotland. Participation in the Athena Swan charter is not a SFC requirement for funding but institutions find it a useful tool to advance their work on gender equality. In 2019, 14 (13 Bronze, 1 Silver) Scottish universities and 97 individual academic departments held awards (77 Bronze, 18 Silver and 2 Gold). In the most recent round of submissions (November 2018) the overall success rate was 67% for Scottish awards against a UK success rate 66%. All institutions involved in the Charter process in Scotland that have renewed or upgraded their Athena SWAN award have reported significant increases in their proportion of female professors.[22] The number of female professors from ethnic minority communities in Scotland has increased from 25 in 2018-19 to 40 in 2019-20. This makes up 5.4% of all female professors and 1.5% of all professors.[23]

Individual Training Accounts

Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) offer those who are unemployed or have low incomes up to £200 per year to increase their skills in specific sectors to help them into work or to progress in work. Data highlights the segregated nature of delivery, particularly in those traditionally segregated sectors such as Construction and Health & Beauty.

We will publish an EQIA, which has been developed following input from equality representative bodies, including Close The Gap. ITAs are a small programme and limited in how they can address occupational segregation but the EQIA sets out the action we will take to tackle this in the future.

Improve opportunity for Skills training for women and girls

We published our Future Skills Action Plan on the 3 September 2019. This set out our strategic response and approach to ensuring Scotland has a skilled and productive workforce, both now and in the future. In implementing the plan, we addressed gender-specific issues in the labour market, to ensure that the specific inequalities and barriers women face are addressed in future skills delivery.

We also committed to build on and improve the range of gender-disaggregated data used to develop skills planning policy, and ensure that the new skills planning and provision model addresses occupational segregation, and the underutilisation of women's skills as a central aim.

This action will be taken forward with the delivery of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund (FWDF) aligning with the commitments in the Future Skills Action Plan.

In this academic year, 2020-21, the FWDF has been doubled to £20m and made available to non-UK Apprenticeship Levy paying SMEs for the first time to provide skills training to staff vulnerable to redundancy in affected sectors. New FWDF guidance has been completed on the criteria for delivering FWDF for SFC and SDS and was developed and informed with input from Close the Gap to enhance the guidance with regards to gender equality and to ensure that colleges and employers are more aware of ensuring that employees with protected characteristics, including women are given due consideration when planning training.

We continue to work with SFC to emphasise the need for enhanced equality data and closer monitoring on equality outcomes. SFC intend to have additional resource to enable this in the coming months.

National Transition Training Fund

An initial £25m National Transition Training Fund (NTTF) to support individuals, aged 25+, who have lost their jobs or are at risk of doing so, as a result of the pandemic was launched on 8 October 2020. 

Across the three Strands of the NTTF: Strand 1 administered by SDS provides short, sharp training to mitigate the rise in C19 related unemployment, The second supports a range of sector focused initiatives and the third Strand is focussing on expanding further and higher education training projects and is administered by the Scottish Funding Council. 

Equality data will be collected and delivery bodies reminded of the Scottish Government's ambitions in respect of tackling inequality. Where feasible, this will include intersectional data, particularly on sector based projects. Although many of the participants in the sector projects will already be in employment, we will monitor participation to measure impact on occupational segregation, and also to ensure that women are being offered opportunities to progress in sectors where they make up the majority of the workforce, such as Hospitality. All strands will gather equality data regardless of delivery mechanism. Data will be monitored across sectors to consider impact on occupational segregation.

The Scottish Budget statement for 2021-22 set out our ongoing commitment to NTTF and in the coming months we will review the first year of delivery and set out new or revised priorities for the Fund. This work will involve considering how we can support people to move to new jobs from sectors which are experiencing a drop in workforce numbers. Retail will certainly be one of these and we will work with SDS and other partners to ensure the predominantly female workforce is assisted to move to new jobs across the labour market, rather than those jobs traditionally taken by women. 

We committed to ensuring closing the gender pay gap was prominent in the development of the Performance Framework for the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board. This has been completed and the Performance Framework stacks the same indicators as the National Performance Framework 'the difference between male and female full time hourly earnings, expressed by a percentage of male full-time hourly earning'.[24]

Through our £60 million investment in the Young Person's Guarantee this year and commitment of a further £70 million investment next year, we are building on existing education, employability, skills and training infrastructure to provide new opportunities and enhanced support to young people. Our aim is to ensure that every young person aged between 16 and 24 will be guaranteed an opportunity at university or college, an apprenticeship programme, employment including work experience, or participating in a formal volunteering programme. The Scottish Government is working with partners (including Young Scot, Glasgow Disability Alliance, Close the Gap, Intercultural Youth Scotland, Staf and LGBT Youth Scotland) to develop an Equality Action Plan to set out how every young person can access and sustain opportunities through the Guarantee. We will publish this Equality Action Plan over the coming weeks.

As part of this Equality Action Plan we are working to develop a suite of Equalities training to support DYW School Coordinators. This training will raise awareness of gender, disability and race equality issues with the DYW School Coordinators to support young people who are furthest from the labour market and encourage employers to adopt and embed fair and inclusive workplace practices. We will also take this opportunity to engage other individuals who are working on the Young Person's Guarantee in this training.

Our £100m Green Jobs fund, investing alongside a range of sectors - such as manufacturing, tech, and land based organisations - will support new and increased opportunities for green job creation across Scotland. This year we have also announced additional support for apprenticeships through our £15m Apprenticeship Employer Grant and £10m funding for pathways to apprenticeships.

We have established two different funds to support greater gender balance within the Scottish agricultural industry and other land-based industries such as Forestry, where women are often under-represented. The Women in Agriculture Practical Training Fund and the Women in the Rural Economy Training Fund are both administered by Lantra Scotland, and women can apply directly to them for financial support to access training of their choice. We aim to level the playing field for women in Scotland, by encouraging uptake of training in these industries and creating a more inclusive training environment. 

Read an example of a young school leaver doing a Graduate Apprenticeship with Fife Council.

"My role gives me lots of site experience, particularly on our bridge projects. I think the best thing about a Graduate Apprenticeship is that it is such a good opportunity for me to work while I am at university and while I am getting experience.' Jenna Brown

Actions going forward 2021-2022

In addition to taking forward the work we have started above. We will also take forward the actions below.

Updated – Continue to explore the opportunity to access intersectional gender-disaggregated data on employee beneficiaries of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund including sectoral information and the type of training accessed. This will inform future policy development with the aim of addressing occupational segregation in future rounds and support our immediate employment and skills response to COVID-19 in the financial year 2021-2022.

Updated – Ensure gender and broader equalities will be a key consideration in the development and delivery of programmes to support our employment and skills response to COVID-19. Equality data to be gathered across the National Training Transition Fund and where possible broken down by sector to consider occupational segregation. New skills investment will focus on areas of jobs growth aligning with our national mission to create new jobs, good jobs and green jobs that are available to all regardless of gender. 



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