Race equality framework for Scotland 2016 to 2030

This framework sets out our approach to promoting race equality and tackling racism and inequality between 2016 and 2030.

5. Employability, Employment and Income

Our Vision for 2030:

Minority ethnic people have equal, fair and proportionate access to employment and representation at all levels, grades and occupation types in Scotland's workforce and experience fewer labour market, workplace and income inequalities.

Outcomes for minority ethnic people in accessing the labour market, experiences within the workplace and issues around poverty and income are closely interlinked. Across these areas, both quantitative and qualitative evidence suggests that further action is needed to remove barriers, tackle discrimination and promote equality.

Figure 9: Unemployment 2011 [19]

Figure 9: Unemployment 2011

Despite decades of UK legislation aimed at tackling racial discrimination and inequality in the workplace, unemployment rates in Scotland are still significantly higher for non-white minority ethnic groups compared to white ethnic groups, including the majority white Scottish population. There are also significant issues around occupational segregation, pay and experiences at work, including racial harassment in the workplace. We are committed to taking additional action to tackle labour market and workplace inequalities in Scotland, particularly within the public sector.

The Fair Work Convention, established by the Scottish Government in April 2015, has set out its vision that, by 2025, people in Scotland will have a world-leading working life where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses organisations and society.

The Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee undertook an Inquiry on Race, Ethnicity and Employment in 2015-16 which uncovered very similar concerns to those raised in our own evidence gathering activities. We have responded to the Equal Opportunities Committee separately, however the Framework's implementation work on employability, employment and income will also take account of the Inquiry's findings.

Minority ethnic communities also experience the highest rates of poverty in Scotland. The potential routes out of poverty for minority ethnic families and individuals are reduced by barriers, many of which are connected to structural and direct forms of racism. It is essential that these barriers are tackled, and that the impacts of living on a low income are mitigated as much as possible. Scotland's new powers on social security under the Scotland Bill 2015-16 may enable further action on this and we will consider the potential to use these powers to tackle racial inequality once they are in place.

Figure 10: Poverty 2011/12-2013/14 [20]

Figure 10: Poverty 2011/12-2013/14

Our key goals:

20. Identify and promote practice that works in reducing employment inequalities, discrimination and barriers for minority ethnic people, including in career paths, recruitment, progression and retention

Ensuring fair and proportionate representation across the labour market is vitally important. This is not just about increasing application rates. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that application rates from minority ethnic groups for public sector jobs are already fairly representative, and instead the under‑representation is linked to minority ethnic candidates not being appointed at interview stage.

Organisations, particularly in the public sector, need to consider how they can proactively tackle the continuing inequalities in the workforce. This means carefully examining current practices in recruitment, retention and career progression to ensure that institutional and personal discrimination do not feature.

In addition to taking action to support a more representative public sector workforce, the Scottish Government can contribute to creating equality in the wider labour market by encouraging partnership working and using our influence with agencies and other publicly funded bodies to encourage good practice. This work also needs to recognise that for minority ethnic women, the disadvantages experienced in terms of both gender and race intersect to create extra barriers, which need to be tackled.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Respond to the Fair Work Convention Framework and its recommendations, and address the issues raised in the engagement process of the development of the Race Equality Framework including recruitment, retention, career progression, occupational segregation and in work poverty
  • As part of our response to the Fair Work Convention Framework, establish approaches to drive good practice for all equality groups in the workplace
  • Review current approaches to supporting in-work training, including Individual Learning Accounts; within this, we will identify the level of take up amongst minority ethnic learners and ensure that any future approaches consider how under‑represented groups could better access these

21. Ensure robust policy responses that support race equality in relation to income and poverty

Tackling poverty is a priority for the Scottish Government across all communities. However, with minority ethnic groups twice as likely to experience poverty as the majority ethnic population, there is a clear link between race and poverty which must be examined if racial inequalities are to be tackled. In particular, minority ethnic communities must have access to effective support and advice, including financial advice and support from community-based services like credit unions. This includes support to maximise take up of social security benefits for those who are eligible.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Ensure that our response and approach to Social Justice considers measures to tackle poverty across all ethnicities reflecting the public input into our National Conversation on 'A Fairer Scotland' and building on the First Minister's Poverty Adviser's report 'Shifting the Curve'
  • Work to fill the gaps in current knowledge on how and to what extent minority ethnic people are accessing the benefits they are entitled to and work to ensure that relevant policies developed to address benefits take up and provide access to advice services (including financial advice) are equality impact assessed, with a programme of activity developed to address the results
  • Implement the powers being devolved as a result of the Scotland Bill 2015-16 in a way that makes full use of those powers to tackle poverty across all ethnicities
  • Make all possible efforts to assess, understand and where we can, mitigate the impact of any UK policies outwith our control which have a financial impact on minority ethnic people with low incomes as part of ongoing work around improvements to the Equality Budget Statement and Spending review processes
  • Stipulate in future funding and procurement arrangements for money advice services that grant recipients collect data and monitor how far their services meet the needs of people across all ethnicities; we will use this information to feed into future policy development
  • Work with the Credit Union Working Group to take forward its recommendations, ensuring that this work takes account of needs across all ethnicities

22. Ensure access to appropriate early learning and childcare for minority ethnic families

Practical measures such as access to appropriate childcare provision are vital to ensure that minority ethnic families have economic and social equality. The Scottish Government is committed to developing high quality, flexible early learning and childcare which is accessible and affordable for all. We have increased the entitlement for all three and four year olds from 475 hours a year to 600 hours a year; and aim to almost double this by the end of the next Parliament. We have also extended this entitlement to over a quarter of two year olds who will benefit most, including those who are looked after, under a kinship care or guardianship order; and, those from low income households based on free school meal criteria.

The aim of this is to improve outcomes for all children, especially those who will benefit most; and, to support parents to work, train or study, especially those who need routes into sustainable employment and out of poverty.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Work to develop policy and practice so that early learning and childcare meets the needs of parents and children across all ethnicities
  • Consider the feasibility of collecting accurate ethnicity information on children within early learning and childcare as part of our current data transformation work
  • Work with key stakeholders to promote greater diversity during our expansion of the early learning and childcare workforce

23. Reduce barriers and provide support for minority ethnic people who are new to the labour market, including school leavers and new migrants

Our evidence gathering and stakeholder involvement processes demonstrated clearly that recent migrants face additional barriers to employment, on top of the barriers relating to structural and personal racism faced by the wider minority ethnic population in Scotland.

In particular, challenges associated with recognition of overseas qualifications and experience, levels of English language proficiency and employer perceptions of these issues are impacting the ability of recent migrants to access employment.

There are also areas in which school leavers from minority ethnic backgrounds could be better supported. As well as our previously stated commitment to ensuring that careers guidance meets the needs of minority ethnic young people, we must ensure that they have equal access in practice to different post-school destinations, including Modern Apprenticeships which have historically had low levels of participation from minority ethnic groups.

The Scottish Government aims to ensure these barriers are removed as far as possible.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Work with Skills Development Scotland ( SDS) in their delivery of the Equality Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland, to ensure that the number of individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds who are apprentices increases to equal the population share by 2021. This will be reviewed annually
  • Develop a long-term 2020 vision for our contracted employment programme which will be devolved from April 2017 by identifying specific client needs and delivering a fully integrated and aligned service. We will use feedback from race equality stakeholders to continue to examine the inclusion of ESOL provision, work experience and mock interviews for minority ethnic clients
  • Include measures to improve access to high quality advanced, vocational and conversational ESOL provision, linked to both employability schemes and with employers across all sectors to promote uptake for staff in post within the Implementation plan for the refreshed ESOL Strategy
  • Work with partner organisations through the Refugee Integration Forum and New Scots working groups to explore what more we can do on the recognition of overseas qualifications including commissioning a short project to review and update the recommendations of the 2010 'Scoping Study on Support Mechanisms for the Recognition of Skills, Learning and Qualifications of Migrant Workers and Refugees' within the current context

24. Minority ethnic entrepreneurs and business owners have equal access to business and enterprise support

In addition to representation within the workforce generally, minority ethnic participation in the labour market also manifests itself in entrepreneurship and business ownership. The rates of self-employment vary widely between minority ethnic groups, with some communities being over-represented (for example, Pakistani communities) and others under-represented (for example, African communities). There is a lack of available qualitative evidence on the proportions of minority ethnic social enterprises, however, it is believed that there may be under‑representation.

Figure 11: Self-employment 2011 [21]

Figure 11: Self-employment 2011

There is also a lack of evidence on uptake of available support for business owners and entrepreneurs from minority ethnic communities, and whether the support on offer meets people's needs. This is a gap which needs to be filled.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Map information and data needs around self-employment and minority ethnic enterprise in order to better understand minority ethnic entrepreneurship to inform a programme of future activities
  • Ensure effective engagement of minority ethnic communities in the development of the Scottish Government Social Enterprise Strategy to ensure issues relevant to race are considered as part of this wider review
  • Consider future approaches to gathering and reporting data on ethnicity in relation to social enterprises

25. Scotland's public sector workforce is representative of its communities

The Scottish Government has developed robust reporting processes for public sector employers through the Scottish Specific Public Sector Equality Duties, with a duty to collect employee equality monitoring information and use this information to tackle inequality in employment practices. The results of these monitoring activities suggest that even in the public sector, minority ethnic people are disproportionately rejected at job interviews in comparison to white Scottish applicants.

Indeed, many Scottish public bodies have very low proportions of minority ethnic staff in comparison to national and local demographic profiles. To develop a representative workforce, the majority of Scotland's public bodies will need to invest additional effort - including tackling discrimination and looking at opportunities to take positive action.

The Scottish Public Sector Equality duties require listed public bodies to have due regard to whether procurement award criteria should include considerations to enable them to better perform the equality duty. The Scottish Government has worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to promote this [22] so that public bodies are aware that there is an opportunity to advance equality of opportunity through public procurement contracts.

To achieve this goal, we will:

  • Review the Scottish Specific Equality Duties and their role in improving race equality in employment across the public sector in Scotland
  • Work to ensure that by 2025 the Scottish Government's own workforce reflects the minority ethnic population in Scotland at every level
  • Consider the role that targets might play to address under-representation of minority ethnic staff within the public sector
  • With partners, consider scoping a programme of work around improvements in workplace equality practice which might include:
    • Work to better understand the issues around the reasons for appointment deficit at interview
    • The use of equality impact assessment of HR practice and policy including around progression and retention
    • Best practice in positive action


Email: race-equality-team@gov.scot

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