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 6 Employability

This chapter looked at tackling the barriers which prevent women from participating in employability programmes and employment, including specific barriers faced by women with other protected characteristics. 

It is essential that our employability programmes focus on tacking the barriers women face, and that they do not reinforce any of the causes of the gender pay gap, such as occupational segregation. Our aim is for women to be able to access high quality employability advice and support, tailored to their specific needs. 

The impact of the pandemic and lockdown measures on Scotland's economy has been both rapid and severe. There continues to be a widespread expectation that groups already vulnerable in the labour market will be affected adversely by both COVID-19 and the government response to control the outbreak. Our analysis on the economic impact of labour market effects examined the potential impacts for those with various protected characteristics, highlighting women, young people, disabled people, minority ethnic people, low earners, lone parents and those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage as most at risk. These factors, combined with a recognition that many of those further away from jobs will now face additional challenges in the labour market has introduced further impetus to our work. 

We know that women in the longer-term are likely to be disproportionately impacted in the labour marked due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain committed to strengthening employability support to mitigate these consequences as far as we can. It is more important than ever that we ensure our employability services meet the needs of women across Scotland. 

Ensure the design of employability support services are gender sensitive

We committed to design programmes of employment support for individuals and parents, including the range of employment support activities announced in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, to challenge occupational segregation and improve women's quality of employment, pay and progression. 

Our ambition, which is shared by Local Government is to deliver a Scottish approach to employability that focuses on the individual first and foremost. A person-centred system that is more flexible and responsive. The No One Left Behind approach to employability services is pivotal in supporting those who are most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of COVID–19, including women, young people and disabled people, and will be essential in supporting Scotland's economic recovery. 

We published the No One Left Behind: delivery plan in November 2020 outlining the next stages in the collective approach to delivering an employability service which is flexible, joined up and responsive. Delivery has been amended to take account of the restrictions moving to online and telephone delivery. 

In A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan, published in December 2018, we committed to halving the disability employment gap in Scotland by 2038. Our Employment Action Plan included a commitment to invest from the Child Poverty Delivery Fund to support unemployed disabled parents experiencing poverty to progress towards and enter employment. Funding of £6m has now been made available to PESF to support this group - please see A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People - Employment Action Plan Progress Report (no 2) for further details. 

We wanted to ensure this new programme included a gender-sensitive approach and committed to this in our Gender Pay Gap action plan. To ensure the programme meets the needs of service users, we undertook further engagement with disabled parents, disabled people's organisations and local authorities to identify priority needs and inform service delivery. This engagement will continue during delivery of PES, and we will ensure that gender and other intersectionalities are key in this work. As women tend to take on more childcare responsibilities, this is likely to have more of an impact for women.

In the plan we also committed to invest £12m in the Parental Employability Support Fund (PESF), over the delivery period 2019-2022, targeting those family groupings deemed at greater risk of experiencing poverty within the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, gender sensitive and meets women's distinct needs. The service offers person-centred holistic employability support to low income parents helping them to access and progress in work, increasing their earnings and lifting them and their families out of poverty. By taking a person centred approach services are gender sensitive and meets women's distinct needs. We undertook an Equality Impact Assessment for this programme, which highlighted the need to support lone parents as majority are female. As the policy has been implemented, we continue to look and assess the impact realised in relation to women and families.

"I worked evenings in a pub and struggled with money and childcare until I contacted Invest in Renfrewshire and met my Advisor who helped me through the Parental Employability Support Fund (PESF) to look for another job, create a CV and gain a relevant qualification: I am now in a permanent Job with Renfrewshire Council working in care home. I work within school hours Monday to Friday so I don't need to ask people for help to look after my children in the evenings, I am financially better off and I have more time to spend with my children and I love my new job." 

(Participant, Renfrewshire)

"Parental Employability Support Fund has helped me gain the confidence I needed to apply for and find a job, with the support provided it made me feel that I was able to go out and deal with things and apply for the job I wanted. I would recommend to anyone who needed it to speak to the staff."

(Participant, East Renfrewshire)

Improve data 

Improving data is a common theme across the chapters of Gender Pay Gap action plan. We are committed to developing the range of data being published on Scotland's new devolved employment services, building on the range of gender disaggregated data already published. This will include data reflecting on the gendered needs of service users and if possible, experience of domestic abuse amongst service users.

As standard, we publish quarterly statistics for Fair Start Scotland (FSS) including gender breakdowns for those joining the service, and those who go on to enter and sustain employment. We include gender breakdowns where possible for all employability support reported on in our statistical publication and evaluation reports. Overall, 37% of people who have joined FSS were women and 63% were men. The proportion of women has increased over time: from 35% in year 1, to 37% in year 2, 40% in the first and second quarters of year 3, and 43% in the most recent quarter.[25] The Scottish Government's evaluation of the second year of the service[26] highlighted that compared to the unemployed population of Scotland, women were underrepresented in FSS (37% of participants were female compared to 47% of Scotland's unemployed population[27]).

Further breakdowns in NOLB/PESF data will be requested in order to ensure that outcomes and progress can also be analysed by gender. The Scottish Government gathers data on the number of children/age of youngest child of participants for FSS and also collects case studies on people with children as part of evaluation activity. Further work will be undertaken over the course of the next year to further explore the experiences of certain groups including women.

Actions going forward 2021-22 

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

  • Updated – Design programmes of employment support for individuals and parents, including the new employment support as announced in the Child Poverty Action Plan, to challenge occupational segregation and improve women's quality of employment, taking into account the impact COVID-19 on women's unemployment.



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