Public sector employment in Scotland: statistics for first quarter 2021

Statistics based on administrative records and surveys of individual public sector bodies carried out by the Scottish Government and the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is a snapshot of employment as at March 2021.

This document is part of 2 collections


1 IMPORTANT NOTE: Estimates for total employment and private sector employment are based on the Labour Force Survey, ONS. Labour Force Survey (LFS) responses are weighted to official population projections. As the current projections are 2018-based they are based on demographic trends that pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic. ONS are analysing the population totals used in the weighting process and intend to make adjustments in July 2021. Rates published from the LFS remain robust; however, levels and changes in levels (for 2020 and 2021) should be used with caution.

2 Further details on major reclassifications are provided on page 5 and online at This includes several Train Operating Companies (TOCs) included within the public sector as at 1st April 2020.

3 The information in this section is not national statistics. The devolved public sector employment statistics for young people are released as official statistics.

4 The annual Scottish Government collection for number of young people employed in the devolved public sector was not carried out in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

5 Major reserved reclassifications include Royal Bank of Scotland plc, Lloyds Banking Group plc, Northern Rock plc, Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, Lloyds Bank Asset Finance, Scottish Widows, Direct Line, Royal Mail Group plc, (known as the Post Office Ltd (until Q2 2006) and Network Rail. Devolved reclassifications include Registered Social Landlords, with Train Operating Companies split across Reserved and Devolved responsibility.

6 For further details on the make-up of the Scottish Public Sector, please see the background notes for this publication:

7 A detailed breakdown on this information by staffing group was published by NHS Education for Scotland on the 1 June 2021:

8 Train Operating Companies (TOCs) with franchise agreements with the UK and Scottish Governments agreed Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs) to ensure continuity of operation during a period of falling passenger numbers. The result was the reclassification of TOCs as public corporations split across the devolved and reserved public sector with effect from 1 April 2020. This explains the increase in the devolved Public Corporations.

9 Public corporations, public sector financial institutions and public bodies have been combined into ‘other public sector’ to ensure individual organisation employment figures are not disclosed.

10 When interpreting changes over time in the Devolved Civil Service in Scotland it should be noted that due to organisational changes, staff have transferred between the Scottish Government core directorates and agencies. Detail about the above changes can be found in the background notes.

11 Scottish Government Agencies includes Scottish Prison Service, Disclosure Scotland, Transport Scotland, Student Awards Agency for Scotland, Scottish Public Pensions Agency, Accountant in Bankruptcy and Historic Scotland until Q3 2015, Social Security Scotland from Q3 2018 and Forestry and Land Scotland and Scottish Forestry from Q3 2019.

12 Other Civil Service includes Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Department for Transport, Food Standards Agency (until 31 March 2015), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Chancellor’s Other Departments, Department for International Trade, HM Treasury, Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, Office of Rail and Road, UK Export Finance, UK Statistics Authority, Cabinet Office and Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency.



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