No One Left Behind: equality impact assessment - update summary

No One Left Behind is our approach to transforming employment support in Scotland. It aims to deliver a system that is more tailored and responsive to the needs of people of all ages, especially those who are disadvantaged in the labour market.

Key Findings


Labour market data shows that the unemployment rate of 16-24 year olds is much higher than other age groups and that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted young people in our labour market. Young adults are also more likely to be in poverty than older adults.

Long-term unemployment (1+ year) is a particular challenge for older workers (50+) with that age group estimated to make up almost half of all long-term unemployment in 2021. Long-term unemployment increased for those aged 50+ over the latest year whereas it fell for other age groups.

Children living in households with a young mother (<25) are much more likely to be in poverty than those living with a mother aged 25+.

Disabled People

Despite some progress in recent years, Scotland has a persistent disability employment rate gap (the difference in the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people) with the employment rate of disabled people consistently lower than the employment rate of non-disabled people.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the disability employment gap (DEG) was narrowing – falling from 37.4 percentage points in 2016 to 32.6 percentage points in 2019. However, in 2020, the gap widened by 1.1 percentage point – from 32.6 percentage points in 2019 to 33.7 percentage points - suggesting that disabled people had been disproportionately impacted in the labour market as a result of COVID-19.


Scotland has a persistent minority ethnic employment rate gap with the employment rate of Scotland's minority ethnic population consistently lower than the employment rate of the white population.

In 2021, the employment rate of the minority ethnic population was estimated to be 62.1% compared to 73.8% for the white population – a gap of 11.7 percentage points. There has been no sustained progress in reducing the ethnicity employment rate gap over recent years.

Employment outcomes are particularly poor for minority ethnic women with an employment rate of just 49.0% in 2021 compared to 76.9% for minority ethnic men.


Women have worse employment outcomes in the labour market than men and are paid less on average. Women are also more likely than men to be economically inactive. However, men are more likely than women to be unemployed or long-term unemployed.

The employment rate of women has consistently been lower than the employment rate of men, but the gap in these rates has narrowed over time as female labour market participation has risen. In 2021, the employment rate of women was estimated to be 70.7% compared to a rate of 75.7% for men.

The Equality Impact Analysis has shaped and informed the Scottish Government's policy development by:

  • Developing a Policy Statement for all future programmes allowing colleagues to structure and adapt the EQIA on an ongoing basis;
  • Has helped to address the negative impact sanctions can have on vulnerable people in society. Scottish Ministers have agreed that all customers participating in Scotland's employability service should do so on a voluntary basis.
  • Presenting an opportunity to design and deliver effective and targeted employment support services in Scotland that better meet the needs of unemployed Scots, those employing community and services that reflect national and local labour markets and which helps to build on existing service delivery in Scotland.
  • An opportunity to better align, not just mainstream, employability support, creating the opportunity to deliver more effective, targeted and joined up public services and seek broader progress and potential shared outcomes (and investment) in devolved services.



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