Scotland and the sustainable development goals: a national review to drive action

This review provides a statement of our pre-COVID-19 ambition on driving progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Scotland. It brings together evidence, actions and stories of how we are making progress to meet the Goals.

8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

  • Environment
  • Fair Work and Business
  • Economy

Sustainable economic growth has been a long term ambition for the Scottish Government, and the notion of inclusive growth as a strategic priority underpinning our economic ambitions was set out in ‘Scotland’s Economic Strategy’ in 2015. The Scottish approach to inclusive growth centres on both the pace and pattern of growth across the country, and across different groups within our society. Emphasis is placed on building a strong labour market to achieve inclusive growth through the creation of more good quality jobs and ensuring people can access them.

By delivering sustainable and inclusive growth in Scotland, we seek to directly address SDGs 8 and 10 as well as important interlinkages to Goals 1 and 2. In addition to sustainable and inclusive economic growth sitting at the heart of the NPF as the defined purpose, two specific National Outcomes focus on Business and Fair Work and the Economy.

We have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy.

We have thriving and innovative jobs and fair work for everyone.

The Economic Action Plan sets out a number of new and existing actions that will work together to build a strong, vibrant and diverse economy to deliver sustainable inclusive growth, improve wellbeing and attract investment across Scotland.

Economic performance (targets 8.1 and 8.2)

Scotland’s Chief Economic Adviser published its tri‑annual State of the Economy report which summarises and analyses the performance of and outlook for the Scottish, UK and global economies. In terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Scotland’s economy continued to expand in the second half of 2018, in quarter 3 2018 growing 0.2% over the quarter and 1.3% over the past year, broad based across the service, production and construction sectors. In 2018, the most influential industry sector was manufacturing where output increased by 3.2% in total, including strong increases in the manufacture of computer, electrical and optical products, contributing towards the focus of target 8.2 on increasing productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation. On an annual basis growth in Scotland is broadly in line with the UK.

Using recent OECD[10] data to look at Scotland’s long term productivity in an international context: while over the last decade from 2007 to 2017 Scotland’s productivity has growth faster than the UK as a whole and only marginally behind the OECD average. Scotland’s overall productivity (in terms of GDP per hour worked) ranked Scotland 16 out of 37 key OECD trading partners. This position has remained unchanged in recent years.

The Data Picture: Number of businesses

Goal 8 aims to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

The provisional 2019 registered business stock rate, of 396 businesses per 10,000 adults, represents an increase from 2018. Since 2013 there has been a general trend of an increasing business stock rate, although there was a slight decrease in the rate between 2017 and 2018.

The first line graph showing that the number of businesses per 10,000 adults has changed little between 2015 and 2019, with a figure of 382 reported in 2015 and a figure of 296 reported in 2019. The second line graph shows the percentage of businesses which are high growth, as a share of all registered enterprises between 2015 and 2019. This figure sits at around 1.1% over the period, with little fluctuation.

The number of businesses per 10,000 adults

Source: Registered enterprise count, Businesses in Scotland. Mid-year Population Estimates, National Records of Scotland.

In 2019, 1.1% of all registered businesses were high growth, up from the 2018 rate of 1.0%. The 2019 rate marks a return to growth for the high business growth share, following a decline between 2017 and 2018.

The percentage of businesses which are high growth as a share of all registered enterprises

Source: Inter-Departmental Business Register

The Data Picture: Productivity

Target 8.2 aims to achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors.

In 2018 Scotland was ranked in 16th place (out of 37 countries) for productivity levels amongst OECD trading partners. There has been no change in ranking in recent years.

Line chart shows Scotland's productivity rank against key trading partners in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) between 2014 and 2018. Scotland's rank of 16 has not changed over the period.

Scotland’s Rank for productivity against key trading partners in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD)

Source: Scottish Government

The Scottish Government’s ambition remains to reach the top quartile of OECD countries in terms of productivity. Improving our productivity is about making better use of all our resources – whether they are our people, infrastructure, or natural assets. It is the principal long term driver of economic growth. More productive economies can produce greater quantities of goods and services for a given set of resources, typically leading to higher incomes, living standards and wealth. Over the long term, increased levels of productivity are essential to support the economic growth needed to ensure rising living standards.

As part of the drive to deliver higher productivity, fair work and inclusive growth, the Scottish Government is reforming its system of enterprise and skills support through the business-led Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board, ensuring that we maximise the return for our annual £2.4 billion spend in this area. The Strategic Plan set out a comprehensive range of actions for the agencies and recommendations to government with a clear and deliberate focus on shifting the dial on productivity and inclusive growth through the enterprise and skills system across Scotland.

More broadly, the Scottish Government and its enterprise agencies are investing in infrastructure, skills, exports, innovation and growth capital for business as part of a concerted programme of action to raise Scotland’s productivity performance.

To facilitate the delivery of inclusive growth across Scotland, Scotland’s Centre for Regional Inclusive Growth (SCRIG) was launched in July 2018 and the Economic Action Plan in November 2018.

SCRIG will deepen the evidence base on what works in regional inclusive growth and promote best practice policy and decision making through Regional Economic Partnerships and working with other stakeholders. SCRIG hosts an interactive dashboard which contains regional economic data for Scotland to allow users to conduct an inclusive growth diagnostic for their local area. The inclusive growth diagnostic is a six-stage framework that identifies the constraints to inclusive growth and prioritises actions to address these. The approach has been successfully piloted in Local Authorities in Scotland and is being used to inform City Region and Growth Deals across Scotland.

Employment support, fair work and the living wage (targets 8.5 and 8.6)

Scotland’s labour market is performing well for many people however there is more to do to ensure that no one is left behind. The unemployment rate in January-March 2019 has fallen to 3.2%, the lowest rate recorded in Scotland. Scotland’s employment rate for 16 to 64 year olds was at 75.4% in the same period, and is higher than 10 years earlier (73.1%). Even so, we know that many people continue to face real challenges to move into work. For example, in 2018, the employment rate for those aged 16-64 who were disabled was 45.6%, compared to 81.1% of non-disabled people. This is a disability employment gap of 35.5 percentage points.

The Data Picture: Economic participation

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Last year, in Q1 2019, Scotland had an employment rate of 75.4%, compared with England, whose employment rate of 76.3% was the highest of the 4 UK countries. The gap between these rates was therefore 0.9 percentage points to Scotland’s detriment. Scotland’s employment rate of 74.7% for Q1 2020 is the second highest across the 4 UK countries, 2.4 percentage points below the rate for England.

Line chart comparing Scotland's employment rate against the best performing of the three countries in the UK. The chart shows that there was a gap to Scotland's advantage through most of 2015, before showing a gap of between 0.5% and 1% to Scotland's disadvantage for the period of 2016 through to most of 2019. After July 2019, this gap increases to nearly 2% to Scotland's detriment, but looks to flatten over the rest of 2019.

Gap with the best performing of the other three countries in the UK as a percentage

Source: Labour Force Survey

From April 2018, Fair Start Scotland will provide tailored, person-centred support, with capacity to support around 38,000 people in their journey towards and into work. The service is voluntary and underpinned by wider principles of dignity and respect, meaning people can choose to take part without fear that it will affect existing benefits. The service has been developed by listening to the views of people who rely on employment support and is delivered in nine areas across Scotland, reflecting the reality of Scotland’s geography, regional economies and population spread. The service is delivered collaboratively across a range of private, public and third sector delivery partners including a range of specialist providers to ensure people receive the right type of support for them. It encourages Service Providers to commit to the Fair Work, Workforce and Community Benefits agendas (for example by promoting living wage employment, no use of zero hours contracts or umbrella companies and supporting the Scottish Business Pledge). The service also includes an offer of supported employment - an internationally recognised ‘place and train’ model enabling disabled people to learn on the job with support from colleagues and a job coach, to ensure no-one is left behind (target 8.5).

Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) is our national strategic partnership framework for responding to redundancy situations. Through providing skills development and employability support, PACE aims to minimise the time individuals affected by redundancy are out of work. PACE offers free and impartial advice and is available to all individuals affected by redundancy no matter the size of the business nor how many employees are involved. There are 18 local PACE Teams across Scotland to ensure speedy and effective responses to redundancy situations. PACE support is tailored to meet individual needs and local circumstances and may include one-to-one counselling, information packs, training, seminars on skills and starting up a business, and access to IT facilities. During the year April 2018 until March 2019, PACE supported 13,353 individuals and 304 employers across 453 sites

There is more to do on ensuring we leave no one behind. The Scottish Government also made a commitment to halve the disability employment gap, as set out in its disability employment action plan in December 2018 which was developed in partnership with a range of stakeholders, including disabled people themselves.

The Data Picture: Relative poverty of families with a disability

Target 10.2 (Indicator 10.2.1): Proportion of people living below 50 per cent of median income, by sex, age and persons with disabilities.

In 2016-19, 23% of all households with at least one member with a disability were below the relative poverty line compared to 17% of those where there was nobody disabled in the household.

Line chart comparing the proportion of individuals living in private households with an equivalised income of less than 60% of the UK median after housing costs between 2012-15 and 2016-19. It contrasts figures for households both where there is, and isn't, somebody disabled in the household. The line showing individuals with someone disabled in the household fluctuates around 23% across the period. The line showing individuals with nobody disabled in the household rises slowly from 15% to 17% across the period. The gap between these groups of around 7% is relatively similar across the time period.

The proportion of individuals living in private households with an equivalised income of less than 60% of the UK median after housing costs

Source: Family Resources Survey

Closer Look - Enable Scotland Case study (targets 8.5 and 8.6)

Since 2009, ENABLE’s Stepping Up programme has supported over 1500 young people with learning disabilities - people like Daniel. Daniel was a High School pupil in West Dunbartonshire in his final year of school, he faced a lot of confidence issues as well as struggling with his speech. His speech difficulties prevented Daniel from wanting to communicate with his peers which left him feeling isolated. In addition, Daniel has global learning difficulties which meant he struggled to scope out his future, even though he was someone who strived to achieve - it was just about finding the right path for him. Daniel was focused on achieving paid work when leaving school, together with his ENABLE Coordinator he began to explore the options of an enhanced transition. One of the key roles of an Employment Coordinator is to help build up an individual’s confidence in themselves and their ability to become successful in employment. The Coordinator began work to establish a working partnership with ASDA and Daniel began his work placement which has seen him flourish. Daniel was successful in his application and was offered paid employment upon leaving school. Daniel was then welcomed into the team and made to feel part of it. Daniel is now in a much happier place in his life and is very proud of his achievements. He now looks forward to his future.

The Scottish Government produced a review of employability services in December 2018 which specifically focuses on leaving no one behind in line with the SDG 2030 agenda (target 8.5).[11] The review sets out the next steps for alignment and integration of employability support in Scotland. The ambition is to produce a system that provides a flexible and person-centred approach and is more straightforward for people to navigate. Better integration and alignment with other services, in particular, although not exclusively with health provision is critical. The system also needs to support all people, particularly those facing multiple barriers, so that paths into sustainable and fair work, the right jobs at the right time are available.

Constructive and effective partnership working across the employability system is essential for us to deliver on our ambitions, and those of our delivery partners and stakeholders, particularly in the face of increasing labour uncertainly. The review and the publication gives us the opportunity to work collectively with service users, Local Government, the Third Sector and employers to design, develop and deliver improvements to the system.

The Scottish Government and Scottish Local Government signed a Partnership Working Agreement for Employability 5 December 2019. Fair Work is a key driver of inclusive growth and central to the Scottish Government’s commitment to creating a fair and inclusive jobs market in which every individual can participate to their full potential. Given powers over employment law are currently reserved, our approach to delivering fair work is built on collaboration, engagement and using our wider powers to exert strategic influence.

The Fair Work Action Plan (target 8.5), published in February 2019, sets out how we will deliver our ambition of becoming a world-leading Fair Work Nation by 2025. Our focus will be on: supporting employers adopt Fair Work practices, delivering Fair Work to a diverse and inclusive workforce; and, embedding Fair Work across the Scottish Government. The Action Plan was developed in consultation with the Scottish Trade Union Convention, the Fair Work Convention, employers and other stakeholders. It will help the Scottish Government meet a number of other UN SDGs, in particular, 1, 2, 4, 5, 9 and 10 and contains an action to measure, monitor and report on progress in delivering a Fair Work Nation.

Other actions set out in the Action Plan include:

  • Working with employers and partners to deliver Fair Work First – the default position to harness the financial power of the Scottish Government to, by the end of this Parliament, extend fair work criteria to as many funding streams, business support grants and public contracts as we can
  • Aligning the Scottish Business Pledge to the Fair Work Framework
  • Co-hosting an International Fair Work Summit with the Fair Work Convention to showcase Scotland’s achievements
  • Extending the Workplace Equality Fund
  • Supporting trade unions to embed Fair Work in workplaces
  • Increasing the number of people employed who are paid the real Living Wage
  • Embedding Fair Work across Scottish Government portfolios
  • Engaging with the UK Government to enhance worker’s rights
  • As an employer, demonstrating our leadership by adopting Fair Work practices

The full set of actions are available on the Fair Work Action Plan site.

The Scottish Government recognises the important impacts that work-relevant mental health can have on individuals, their families and their employers. The 10-year Mental Health Strategy specifically identifies actions to address this. The Scottish Government funds Healthy Working Lives through NHS Health Scotland to deliver advice to employers on means of promoting both physical and mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Healthy Working Lives delivers a number of popular training programmes aimed at improving mental health in and through the workplace.

In addition NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Government are working with and a range of stakeholders to explore what more could be done to improve work-relevant mental health which will consider the recommendations of the UK Government’s Farmer/Stevenson report on mental health in the workplace.

Workplace innovation (target 8.3)

Scottish Enterprise (SE) continues to evolve its Workplace Innovation service to stimulate demand for the introduction of fair and progressive work practices; and strengthening SE’s work to promote employee ownership, co-operatives and social enterprises through the focus on Inclusive Business Models. Nine hundred and sixteen companies were helped to introduce fair and progressive work practices in 2018-19. Programmes such as the Workforce Innovation Engagement Programme have secured productivity improvements through enhanced cost control, workflow, customer service and innovation.

Closer Look - Barclays Investment in Glasgow

In July 2018 Barclays announced its investment in a major new campus in Glasgow that will help create up to 2500 jobs in the city. The financial services investment, supported by a £12.75 million grant from SE, has involved close partnership working between the Barclays, SE and Glasgow City Council. The project demonstrates the potential, through strong, sustained partnership working, to achieve scale in the 3 pillars of SE’s approach to inclusive growth: Job Quality – more than 1000 high value jobs will be added to the Glasgow economy. Who Benefits – around 340 of the new jobs will be targeted at disadvantaged and disabled workers in a city which still has among the lowest employment rates in Scotland. Where Benefits – the campus will regenerate an underutilised area of central Glasgow and can connect with developments such as the renewal of the Gorbals and the digital media hub at Pacific Quay to revitalise the south bank of the Clyde.

Fair work practises (target 8.5)

Encouraging more businesses to adopt fair work practices is a key part of Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise’s pursuit of inclusive growth. The payment of the living wage, transparency on gender-equal pay and exclusion of inappropriate use of zero-hour contracts have been introduced as key criteria for the award of large job-related public sector grants. Since April 2019, SE is taking into account an applicant’s approach to fair work practices when offering them grant support (target 8.3). This will apply to all RSA grants (it is the grant with the strongest link to job creation/safeguarding), and other grants over £100,000 where an applicant has to create new jobs or safeguard existing jobs before the grant is paid. This includes grants such as Large R&D, Aid for Start Ups, Training Aid, Aid for Disadvantaged & Disabled Workers and Environmental Aid.

The Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board has emphasised an ambition to realise the full potential of progressive business models, work place innovation and fair work to enhance productivity, equality, wellbeing and sustainability. We will achieve this through a programme of work, shaped by industry and delivered through the mobilisation of an initial pathfinder agency fluid team that promotes and supports development of highly capable businesses with long term strategic orientations who utilise progressive workplace practices, technology, skilled resources and innovation to remain competitive. Ambitious targets have already been developed for SE to double the number of social enterprises it account manages and, through a new industry leadership group, for Scotland to increase the number of employee-owned businesses from 100 to 500 by 2030. SE will continue to lead in workplace innovation through developments such as a new Values Based Leadership Programme.

Equality Fund

In Partnership with Impact Funding Partners, the Scottish Government supports the Workplace Equality Fund. The fund of £750,000 has funded 22 projects including a mix of private sector companies and third sector organisations. It is designed to support private businesses reduce employment inequalities, discrimination, and barriers in the workplace. Applications for the Workplace Equality Fund opened in February 2018 and focuses on the art, culture, leisure, tourism, finance, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and fishing, transport and communication, and STEM sectors.

Closer Look - Flexible Working Hours

Evidence shows that flexible working has proven business benefits including a more engaged and motivated workforce which drives up productivity. Family Friendly Working Scotland (FFWS) received 49,925.00 to work with four businesses; one large and three SMEs from the construction, STEM, finance and furnishing sectors to develop a more flexible approach to working to address employment barriers, inequality and lack of progression in the workplace. The construction company was Glasgow based City Building. FFWS carried out a survey with City Building’s employees which showed that a number of employees were keen to work more flexibly in order to be able to undertake child care commitments and look after elderly relatives. Through workshops FFWS worked with the City Building employers to agree and implement new flexible working hours for employees.

Dr Graham Paterson, executive director at City Building stated that “the world we live in is constantly changing and people are increasingly juggling work and family commitments. City building recognises this. Employees wellbeing is a top priority for us and we want to support a healthy work life balance. We are already seeing the benefits of flexible working with employees feeling supported in both their working and family lives, meaning that they can give 100% when they are work”.

Living wage (target 8.5)

Scotland actively champions the real Living Wage which helps to ensure peoples’ basic pay meets the cost of Living, that translates the central ambition of the SDGs of providing decent work into decent pay (target 8.5). Scotland has already achieved our target of reaching 1,000 accredited employers by autumn of 2017. This has helped ensure that, at 81.5%, Scotland has the highest rate of workers in the UK earning the real Living Wage.

In collaboration with the Poverty Alliance, the Scottish Government announced in November 2017 plans to build on the success and create a ‘Living Wage Nation’ including commitments to increase the number of people receiving a Living Wage by 25,000 for the year 2020; and increase the proportion of accredited organisations in low-paid sectors such as hospitality and tourism.

Scotland’s Economic Strategy sets out our aim to maximise opportunities for women and families through actions such as increasing the availability of free childcare and encouraging employers to give equal pay and offer flexible working (target 8.5).

The Scottish Government is encouraging employers to commit to using fair work practices, such as paying the real Living Wage, by signing up to the Scottish Business Pledge. Currently over 660 businesses have made their commitment to the Business Pledge which is a total of around 1,565 business sites across Scotland, and over one third of these are situation in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In March of 2018 a review of the Business Pledge was announced, the focus of this was to understand what the key barriers are for businesses seeking to make their commitment and measures needed to attract greater business buy-in and impact on delivery of the NPF, which embeds the SDGs.

Closer Look - Dundee - Living Wage City

Dundee City Council, SE, Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce and the private and third sectors have all joined forces in order to boost the number of jobs which pay the voluntary living wage of £9. More than 50 employers in Dundee have already committed to paying their staff and subcontractors the living wage, covering a quarter of all workers in the city. An alliance has been formed to deliver a three-year action plan that will see the number of living wage employers in Dundee double which comes just over a year after the Scottish Government set out plans to make Scotland a “living wage nation” over the next three years.

Developing the young workforce (target 8.6)

Target 8.6 particularly focuses on the reduction of youth not in employment education or training. The proportion of 16-19 year olds participating in education, training or employment between April 1st 2017 and 31st March 2018 (the 2018 Annual Participation Measure (APM) figure) was 91.8%, an increase of 0.7 pp compared to the equivalent 2017 APM figure (91.1%).

Scotland has 21 industry-led regional groups dedicated to Developing the Young Workforce. They were set up to encourage and support employers to engage directly with schools and colleges, and to challenge and support employers to recruit more young people into their workforce. The working groups provide support by offering work placements, mentoring, and assistance in developing application and interview skills.

To support young people from low income families continue with post-16 year old education, either in school or on a college course, the Educational Maintenance Allowance is provided by local authorities and colleges on behalf of the Scottish Government. Changes to the programme were made in January 2016 making support available to part-time college students and increasing the eligible income threshold for households. The income thresholds are now £24,421 or less before tax (for households with one dependent child) or £26,884 before tax (for households with more than one dependent child).”

Table: 2018 Annual Participation Measure (%)
APM Headline Age
16 17 18 19 16 to 19
Count of 16-19 Year old Participating
% 16-19 Participating
Count of 16-19 Not Participating
% 16-19 Not Participating
Count of 16-19 with Unconfirmed Status
% Unconfirmed Status
Count of 16-19 Cohort 50,644 51,968 53,375 55,268 211,255

Source: Annual Participation Measure for 16-19 year olds in Scotland, 2018.

Modern apprentice scheme (target 8.6)

Over 28,000 people started Modern and Graduate Apprenticeship jobs in 2018/19, suggesting Scotland is on track to meet targets for 30,000 new apprenticeship starts each year by 2020. Scotland’s Modern Apprentice scheme includes a supplement for training providers to account for the additional costs of running a Modern Apprenticeship in rural areas and enhancing of contribution rates providing young disabled people and those with experience of care with the highest level of funding up to and including the age of 29. Scotland’s Graduate Level Apprenticeships allow people to study for degree-level courses while in employment. After a pilot scheme in 2016, almost 900 places were made available in 2018.

Skills Development Scotland introduced an apprenticeship equalities action plan in 2015, to help more young people from diverse backgrounds benefit from training opportunities (target 8.6). An update on the action plan was published in July 2017.

Scottish Enterprise works with all successful applicants for Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) to help them develop Invest in Youth policies that build opportunities for young people into their workforce planning. They have had a continued 100% response rate from applicants (302 projects since April 2014). Scottish Enterprise also support companies to address the employment and development of young people through promotion of the Business Pledge to its client companies.

Growing Scotland’s exports (target 8.1)

While Scottish export value has increased every year since 2005 (we now export over £30 billion worldwide) it has remained static as a proportion of the economy. This is not the case for many comparably sized economies over the same period who have managed to grow the proportion of their GDP from exports.

Between 2010 and 2017 international exports increased by 34.6%, from £24.1 billion to £32.4 billion. This growth still demonstrates strong performance compared with 17.6% in the previous eight years (2002-2010). The Scottish Government published A Trading Nation: a Plan for Growing Scotland’s Exports in May 2019. The plan represents the most comprehensive analysis of Scotland’s export performance and market opportunity ever undertaken by the Scottish Government. The plan seeks to grow the value of Scotland’s exports as a percentage of GDP from 20% – 25% over the next ten years. This could increase GDP by approximately £3.5 billion and create 17,500 jobs with an increased tax take of £500 million per annum, helping to fund the vital public services our communities depend on. The Scottish Government will invest £20 million over 3 years in addition to our existing export support budget to achieve this target, bringing benefits to individual businesses and the wider economy.

All the evidence shows Scotland needs to drive up the value of exports by our top exporters to achieve the greatest export growth. But we will also continue to increase the total number of exporters. The evidence shows that the top 100 exporters generate 60% of exports. The next 400 generate 20% of exports. This is typical of smaller economies. 65% of our top 500 exporters are SMEs so they will get proportionately more support than larger companies. The Scottish Government analysis shows that increasing value of exports from top 500 exporters by 50% increases overall exports by £13 billion. Increasing the value of exports from the next 10,500 exporters by 50% increases overall exports by less than £3 billion. Analysis shows almost 70% of future opportunities will come from our top 15 target countries.

Between the enterprise agencies alone there is over £300 million in the wider business support system. Companies and sectors will still be able to access a broad range of support and advice that will help them grow. The purpose of A Trading Nation is to help us to identify where trade-specific resources and interventions should be more effectively targeted. The Scottish Government consulted with more than 30 organisations to complement and inform its export data with expertise and knowledge across a wide range of businesses and sectors.

Safe working environments (target 8.8)

Target 8.8 focuses on protecting labour rights and promoting safe and secure working environments for all workers. For fatal injuries, data are collected from reports made by employers under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations). Fatal injuries in Scotland for 2017/18 were 0.63 cases per 100,000 workers compared to 0.45 cases in Great Britain. The estimated incidence and rates of self-reported workplace non-fatal injury, for people working in the last 12 months, averaged rate per 100,000 workers, was 1,710 for Scotland compared to 1,920 in Great Britain (Source: Labour Force Survey). See also targets 10.2 and 10.3 on equality and discrimination legislation at work.

Gender pay and employment gap (target 8.5)

Scottish Government has recently published its first ever Gender Pay Gap Action Plan (target 8.5). The plan highlights the early and sustained action we and our partners will be taking through a young girl’s early life right into further or higher education and skills and training programmes to break down gender stereotyping which can lead to occupational segregation, one of the main causes of the gender pay gap. The plan is aligned to and builds on other key plans and strategies including DYW, STEM, Equally Safe Delivery Plan, SFC equality Action plan and SDS Equality Action Plan.

Partners include public bodies, local government, enterprise and skills bodies, trade unions, parents, teachers, training providers, further and higher education providers, employers, DYW groups, early learning providers. Scottish Enterprise has been on the steering group of Close The Gap for over ten years and has advised on a number of initiatives including support for SMEs to address any pay gap. The GPG Action Plan is also linked to Goals 1, 4, 5, and 10. We will measure the impact of this action plan across a range of indicators and measures which we will publish separately.

Societal attitudes are key influencers on behaviours and from an early age impact upon and shape the attitudes of girls and boys with respect to career options for women. As an annex to the GPG Action plan the Scottish Government published an analytical paper. Subject choice at school is a key determinant of career choice. Subject choice is often skewed by gender with boys more likely to make subject choices which lead to a wider range of better paid jobs.

Equality education, with a focus on the workplace, is an important way to shape attitudes. While this cannot be expected to overcome all of the wider influences on children and young people’s attitudes to gender stereotyping, it is an opportunity to equip them with the ability to form their own views. Workplace and educational environments which tolerate harassment and violence against women, narrow women’s study and occupational choices and constrain their career ambitions. Women go to university in much higher numbers than men and often predominate on high demand courses such as medicine. Despite this across disciplines we see women’s graduate earnings fall behind men’s as soon as five years after graduation.

We need time to implement the 50 actions within the plan. We have stated that we will continue to reduce the gender pay gap for employees in Scotland by the end of this parliamentary term (May 2021) and to tackle the labour market inequalities faced by women, particularly disabled women, older women, minority ethnic women, women from poorer socio economic backgrounds and women with caring responsibilities.

It will take a collective effort on everyone’s part to tackle gender stereotyping and other equality issues – barriers to implementation include:

  • A lack of equality training or time to attend training for staff who educate, train and support pupils and students
  • Ingrained cultural perceptions held by staff and or parents
  • Competing prioritise

The Scottish Government notes both the severity gender employment gap in the digital technologies industries and the fact that it is closing. Analysis of the most recent ONS Annual Population Survey shows the number of women in tech has risen from 18% to 23.4% in the last two years to 2018. Scottish Government efforts to close the gap further are led by Skills Development Scotland, working with organisations like Girl Geek Scotland, Education Scotland, Equate, Scottish Government, ScotlandIS and of course the industry itself.

The Fair Work and Gender Equality Ministerial Working Group will provide a challenge function to the action that is being taken. The Scottish Government will also undertake to provide the Scottish Parliament with annual reports on progress in reducing the gender pay gap via the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee.

Sustainable growth (target 8.4)

Target 8.4 requires us to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation. Scotland’s NPF makes clear that it is vital that our sustainable economic growth is not achieved at the expense of our social interests or those of the environment, including the valuable development opportunities offered by our natural capital and the green economy. In March 2019, Scotland published its first Natural Capital Accounts, a report showing that Scotland’s natural capital is worth a £273 billion to our economy and society - over a third of the UK total. To calculate the value of Scotland’s natural capital we first measure a range of benefits which the environment gives us. We then put a value – in pounds and pence - on those benefits. Until now, these benefits have mostly been hidden on the nation’s balance sheet. However, by recognising nature as a form of capital, we can better include the environment in policy-and decision making.

Our findings show how things have changed over time. For example, we have seen a fivefold increase in Scotland’s production of renewable energy from 2000 to 2017. Scotland has world-leading climate targets, capabilities in low-carbon technologies, and vast natural assets suitable for removing greenhouse gas from the atmosphere (for further information on Scotland’ Just Transition Commission, see Goal 13 and for Scotland’s work on the circular economy relating to resource efficiency in consumption and production in target 8.4, see goal 12.


While our approach to inclusive growth is place-based and focused on resilient communities within Scotland, the Scottish Government also acknowledges the importance of drawing on international experience when developing policy. The group of Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) was established in November 2018 and comprises of the governments of Iceland, Scotland and New Zealand. This group brings together officials, working in similar areas across the world, to share experience and expertise with the aim of embedding wellbeing outcomes in practice. Through collaboratively identifying practical and scalable examples of effective policy WEGo aims to deliver SDG 17.

WeAll Scotland

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) is a new global collaboration of organisations, alliances, movements and individuals working together to change the economic system, so it is a wellbeing economy: one that delivers human and ecological wellbeing. Its primary focus is to influence societal values and norms, and to help catalyse the formation of an effective and dynamic global movement. This focus will be supported by the creation and dissemination of positive new narratives and will be underpinned by a strong and coherent knowledge and evidence base. WEAll connects, organises and amplifies the work of its members, like-minded groups and individuals by:

  • Creating place-based cross-disciplinary hubs, from local to national, which formulate and implement change strategies and creating thematic clusters which develop strategies and activities for change both within their own sector and for wider society
  • Creating a WEAll citizens movement whereby individuals can contribute to change in their local communities by supporting hubs and also by adding their voice globally

More information can be found here:

Modern slavery and human trafficking (target 8.7)

Please see Goal 16, target 16.2 for information on Scotland’s Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy.

In order to address target 8.7, the Scottish Government launched practical guidance to help businesses identify and prevent human trafficking and exploitation across their operations in October 2018. The guidance recommends that checks should be undertaken by all types of businesses to ensure workers have access to identification documents, are not being held in debt bondage and are not being coerced. The guidance also states that employees should be given training to spot signs of exploitation and encouraged to report concerns to Police Scotland or the UK Modern Slavery Helpline. Following this publication, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice wrote to a number of prominent Scottish businesses who appear not to have met their duty [under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015] to publish an annual statement outlining steps they have taken to prevent modern slavery in their business and supply chains.

Part 4 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 introduces two new court orders, Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Orders and Trafficking and Exploitation Risk Orders. The first Orders were imposed in March 2018 and place restrictions and prohibitions on convicted traffickers to limit what they can do. The National Human Trafficking Unit within Police Scotland are working in partnership with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to maximise all available opportunities to use the Orders to protect individuals from harm and to disrupt trafficking and exploitation activity.

The second annual progress report following the 2017 strategy was published in June 2019 and sets out key achievements and the progress towards implementing the strategy. There is a statutory obligation for Scottish Ministers to review the Strategy every 3 years. The number of adult victims of labour exploitation identified and recovered in Scotland has increased from 33 in 2013 to 99 in 2018. The rise reflects an increasing awareness of this complex and often hidden crime and that more victims are being supported and provided with assistance to help them recover.

The number of child victims of labour exploitation identified and recovered in Scotland has increased from 7 in 2013 to 34 in 2018. The Scottish Guardianship Service (SGS), which has been funded by the Scottish Government since 2010, provides a guardian to children and young people when they claim asylum or are trafficked and are cared for by health, education and welfare services. A Guardian will support a child or young person to be actively involved in decisions that affect their lives and get the help they need, when they need it. A Guardian can explain what is happening to them, will listen to their views and experiences and speak up for them when needed. A Guardian will also help a child or young person to plan for their future. The support a Guardian provides can be vital in the prevention of victims being re-trafficked. SGS has supported over 370 young people since 2010.

Section 11 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, will, when implemented, make provision for an Independent Child Trafficking Guardian (ICTG) to be appointed to provide additional support to a child where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a child is, or may be, a victim of human trafficking and no person in the UK has parental rights or responsibilities in relation to the child. This will put the role of the Guardian on a statutory footing with other support services. A consultation to clarify the detailed roles, responsibilities and functions of the ICTG is being developed in collaboration with key sector partners to ensure that the best possible support for unaccompanied asylum seeking children is provided. In the meantime, the position remains that Scotland provides additional support for those children who have been trafficked, and for whom no one in the UK holds parental responsibilities, through the Scottish Guardianship Service. The support provided by the current Scottish Guardianship Service will remain in place until the new statutory service is implemented.

Innovation (target 8.2 and 8.3)

Our vision for Scotland is one where innovation is an intrinsic part of our culture, our society, and our economy. Our long term ambition is to boost Scotland’s innovation performance to match the levels of the best performing countries in the OECD.

Scotland CAN DO

Scotland CAN DO is our statement of intent to be a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation: a CAN DO Place for business. Developed and delivered jointly with partners across public, private and third sectors, it embodies a shared vision where growth and innovation go hand-in-hand with wider benefits to all of society. Crucially it involves a focus on driving up business investment and engagement in innovation, an entrepreneurial mind set, and on building a confident collaborative culture where enterprise is seen as a valid and viable option for all.

Innovation Action Plan

As part of the Scottish Government’s focus on innovation, we have published an Innovation Action Plan to which sets out 4 key steps to enact our vision:

1. Directly encouraging more business innovation

2. Using public sector needs and spend to catalyse innovation

3. Supporting innovation across sectors and places

4. Making best use of University research knowledge and talent to drive growth and equip Scotland’s people with the tools and skills needed to innovate

The Data Picture: Business Enterprise Research and Development (BERD) Spend in Scotland

In 2018, BERD spend in Scotland reached £1.356 billion, the highest level in the series. In 2018 BERD spend in Scotland was mainly split between Manufacturing products (49.8%) and services products (44.8%).

Line chart shows a gradual increase in research and development spend in both current prices and in real terms (2018 prices) from 2001 to 2018.

The Data Picture: Business Enterprise Research and Development ( BERD) Spend in Scotland

Source: Business Enterprise Research and Development, Scotland: 2017

There are signs that these approaches may be paying off, as business enterprise research and development spend in Scotland is increasing over time in recent years.

Additionally, according to recent research carried out by Prof Jonathan Levie of Strathclyde University, Scotland’s ecosystem is now ranked as the fifth most supportive globally, ahead of all other UK nations, and up from 13 in 2013.


  • The proportion of people in Scotland actively trying to start a business has doubled since CAN DO inception
  • The gender gap in people starting businesses has also reduced in Scotland – whereas in the rest of the UK it has increased. In Scotland the enterprise gender gap is now on a par with other leading entrepreneurial nations like the US and Canada
  • The early activity rate for young people is at a high and now matches the number of people over 30. Scotland’s youngest entrepreneurs are now poised to enter the top quartile of other innovation-driven economies

Equally encouraging, Scotland is now home to over 70 FinTech companies and counting and has been voted the best European place to start a tech business. Scottish FinTech firms are tackling societal and economical challenges with innovative solutions and technologies.

This is helped by a supportive ecosystem in Scotland. The Scottish Government is committed to the development of Scotland’s FinTech sector and together with Scottish Enterprise has contributed funding totalling £250,000 over the two years 2017-19 to establish a body to support the Scottish FinTech sector – FinTech Scotland. FinTech Scotland aims to encourage data driven innovation and collaboration activity across Scotland to deliver inclusive growth and achieve critical mass in the sector. New companies receive help, guidance and funding from Scottish Enterprise and many other organisations. Entrepreneurs and companies wanting to relocate to Scotland or expand internationally can benefit from the services provided by Scottish Development International. Scotland benefits from a large talent pool represented by our many world class universities.

Scotland has a diverse range of biotechs companies based in Scotland, covering fields such as cell therapy, antimicrobials, and whisky-based biofuels. Similar to the FinTech sector, the Scottish BioTech sector benefits from a supportive ecosystem, receiving support from the EU, enterprise agencies, Scottish Funding Council and UK Research and Innovation. Many of the BioTech firms in Scotland are spun out from Scottish universities, giving them a solid scientific basis. Scotland’s Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) acts as a focal point to connect industry with academic expertise and government to accelerate and de-risk commercialisation, to bring new biotechnology processes and products to the global market.

Through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership, the Scottish Government has invested £15.5 Million in delivering initiatives designed to help Scottish Businesses of all sizes increase their digital awareness, use and capability. Our Digital Growth Fund, announced in 2017, provides loans to companies to provide training for their staff in digital skills such as cyber security, data analytics, and software engineering. This support will enable up to 6,000 to be trained annually.

Closer Look - Code Base

The company started off by creating a big space that was affordable, city-central, with awesome WiFi to help tech startups and scaleups focus on building their businesses, and not have to worry about onerous long term leases, negotiating for property, etc. They hit the ground running. Since 2014 they’ve grown five-fold in size in Edinburgh, CodeBase in Stirling came online in 2017, and another space is opening in Aberdeen in summer 2019. The company has built strategic corporate partnerships with Barclays and PwC. As well as the three core cities, part of the Barclays partnership involves delivering mentorship and business support to 21 Barclays Eagle Labs throughout the whole of the UK.

Closer Look - CivTech

CivTech brings together public sector expertise and private sector creativity to solve real problems, develop new products, and deliver better, faster and easier services for everyone. Central to the approach is co-production with the citizen. CivTech’s approach is already helping transform public sector engagement with tech and innovation, delivering significant benefits to public services, and producing genuine uplifts for the Scottish economy. And along the way, it’s making people’s lives better.

Over three years, CivTech has worked with 18 public sector organisations across health, environment, transport, cyber, tourism, and young people. Since leaving the programme, as of December 2018, 14 of the 17 companies from beta and 2.0 are still operational and, combined, have won over £4.5 million from 69 contracts and created 73 jobs (54 FTE). CivTech has run 26 challenge based procurements and awarded 92 contracts to 47 companies.

The challenge in CivTech 2.0 produced a CRM at the fraction of the cost and facilitated the opportunity to co-design a solution that met their needs. The innovative approach to the procurement has resulted in cost avoidance of £1.5 million. Communities around Scotland are benefiting. For example conventional flood warning systems cost up to £250,000 per community. The flood warning challenge for SEPA delivered a low-cost solution based on a motion sensor with Lo-Ra transmitter and community-based LED displays. SEPA has achieved a huge cost-saving and as the service is rolled out, communities are made safer by access to live localised information.

City and Growth Deals

Our cities and their regions make up around two-thirds of Scotland’s economy. When they thrive, all of Scotland benefits. We are supporting Scotland’s strengths in research and innovation through City and Growth Deals across Scotland, including Edinburgh Region’s approach to data‑driven innovation and our investment in a network of learning centres across the Highlands and Islands, which is transforming science, technology, engineering, mathematics and digital creativity (STEMD) education across the entire region as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal. Beyond our cities we are taking action that recognises the particular needs of the South of Scotland by introducing legislation to establish a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency. Too many communities in Scotland have suffered a negative economic legacy from the decline of their local industries and Regional Economic

Partnerships have the potential to develop and prioritise needs at a local level, driving prosperity and equality. As part of the Local Governance Review we will consider what more can be done to enable more Regional Economic Partnerships. And whether urban, rural or island we know that with limitless ambition, and the right support, communities can develop and regenerate places and spaces where they live and make them even better.

Closer Look - The Bio-therapeutics Hub for Innovation

The Bio-therapeutics Hub for Innovation in Aberdeen is a £40 million investment project to double the number of life sciences companies in North East Scotland and support the national ambitions for the sector to collaborate, innovate and commercialise the next generation of therapies and healthcare solutions. It will be a focal point for sector ambition and growth and has secured £20 million of capital funding from the UK and Scottish Governments through the Aberdeen City Region Deal, a partnership between Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils and private sector led economic development body Opportunity North East (ONE). The project has been developed by the ONE Life Sciences sector board, University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University, NHS Grampian and Scottish Enterprise and the ONE team is leading its delivery.

The innovation hub will be located on the Foresterhill Health Campus in Aberdeen – one of Europe’s largest integrated clinical, research, teaching and commercial health sites. The 69,000 square foot new-build facility will include accommodation for spin-outs, start-ups and established companies; collaboration space; and shared facilities for events, small conferences and networking. Sector-specific support programmes in the hub will include incubation, acceleration, mentoring, commercialisation and growth planning. The hub will also be a catalyst for international collaborations and investment into research and companies. A design team has been appointed to support the delivery of the project with a target of opening in December 2020.

Activity to support business innovation

The Scottish Government is encouraging more business innovation through collaboration with Scotland’s Enterprise Agencies, committing to double Business Enterprise Research and Development from £871 million in 2015 to £1.75 billion by 2025. This include a commitment to providing an additional £45 million over the next three years to Research and Development grants for businesses. Scotland has also launched VentureFest Scotland, a festival encouraging and enabling discovery, innovation, and Entrepreneurship.

A £9 million CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund was launched in November 2017 to encourage private sector businesses to innovate and solve public sector challenges. 16 organisation have been funded so far. Like with CivTech, the Scottish Government is using public sector issues to drive innovation and growth in the private sector.

An increasing range of international evidence indicates that the most productive and innovative businesses are also the most purposeful. Or, to put it another way, that business for good is good for business. We have therefore worked with B Lab UK, CAN DO partners and wider policy colleagues to develop an outreach programme, called Scotland CAN B, that encourages businesses of all kinds to embed values more explicitly in how they function across the board (target 8.4). At its heart is the Quick Impact Assessment (QIA), which is a shortened version of the full Business Impact Assessment (BIA) undertaken by certified B Corps. This walks you through a series of questions to help you learn what it takes to build a better business – better for your workers, community, the environment and customers. Scotland CAN B is the first ever nationwide programme run by B Lab, which has previously delivered similar campaigns in places ranging from New York to Geneva.

The Scottish Government also recognises that best use must be made of University research knowledge and talent. £5 million has been invested in an Interface to connect businesses and academia and companies supported by Interface contribute an estimated £64.2 million (Gross Value Added) to the economy each year. The programme has introduced almost 3,000 businesses to academic partners.

Scotland is also an established, successful financial hub and the financial services sector continues to play a significant role in Scotland’s economy – both in its own right as one of our most significant employers, with 86,000 employed directly in the sector, and also as a driver and supporter of wider economic activity across the country.

Life sciences

Life sciences is a key sector of the Scottish economy as highlighted in Scotland’s Economic Strategy, recognised for the distinctive capabilities of our business base and research institutions, international reputation and potential for significant growth and creation of high value jobs. Investment to support company growth, particularly SMEs, is a priority of the Scottish Government. In 2017/2018, the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise (SE), invested over £8 million and leveraged £104 million. This covers funds directly managed and externally managed by Scottish Enterprise and represents investments in 38 companies.

Scotland has a diverse range of companies, covering such fields as cell therapy, antimicrobials, and whisky-based biofuels. Similarily to the FinTech sector, the Scottish life science sector benefits from a supportive ecosystem, receiving support from the EU, Scottish Enterprise, and Innovate UK. A lot of the companies in Scotland are spun out from major universities in the respective regions, including Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh, giving them a robust scientific basis.

The Scottish Government also recognises that best use must be made of University research knowledge and talent. £5 million has been invested in an Interface to connect businesses and academia and companies supported by Interface contribute an estimated £64.2 million (Gross Value Added) to the economy each year. The programme has introduced almost 3,000 businesses to academic partners.

Sustainable tourism (target 8.9)

Please see Goal 12, “Preserving and promoting our historic and cultural environments”.

Access to banking and financial services (target 8.10)

The Scottish National Investment Bank

The Bank has the potential to transform Scotland’s economy, providing capital for business at all stages in the investment life cycle whose investment decisions will reflect wider social and ethical interests. The Bank will be a cornerstone institution in Scotland’s financial landscape with a focus on long term patient capital. The Scottish Government has committed to providing £2 billion over 10 years to capitalise the Bank. This is both ambitious and achievable. This will make a material difference to the supply of capital to the Scottish economy by levering in additional private investment, supporting ambitious firms to flourish and enabling transformational change.

A Bill was introduced in February 2019 to underpin the establishment and capitalisation of the Scottish National Investment Bank so that from 2020 the Bank will be investing in businesses and communities across Scotland. The Bill, informed by consultation, places a duty on Scottish Ministers to establish the Bank as a public limited company (PLC) and gives Ministers the necessary powers to capitalise the Bank.

Ministers will also be given the power to set the strategic direction of the Bank by the setting of Missions that will address socio-economic challenges. Work will continue throughout the Implementation Phase to identify possible missions for the Bank for Ministers to consider. We will continue to engage with stakeholders to inform this work.

Access to ATMs

The Scottish Government supports calls to protect the ATM network, especially in rural communities and areas already affected by previous and proposed bank closures, where ATMs provide a life-line service to consumers and small businesses. Cash remains an essential part of day to day life for many, especially for vulnerable consumers and those in rural communities. The introduction of fees to previously free to use ATMs, on top of the wave of bank branch closures across the UK, will hit Scotland’s communities and businesses disproportionately hard. However, the UK Government has legislative and regulatory responsibility for banking and financial services and has made clear that it will not intervene in branch closure decisions. Yet, there needs to be a long term, sustainable banking service for all communities and the Scottish Government will continue to work with banks to ensure that essential services remain accessible to all.

Ethical Finance Hub

The Ethical Finance Hub (EFH) is a Scottish Government-backed, practitioner-led body committed to creating a fairer, more inclusive and socially responsible financial system. At current private sector participation levels an additional US $2.4 trillion+ p/a is required to achieve the SDGs. The EFH recognises that business-as-usual in the global financial arena will not deliver the 2030 Agenda and a step-change in private investment in SDGs is required. As such the SDGs are a core focus area for the EFH.

In terms of advocacy, through a combination of one to one meetings, group sessions and conferences, the EFH (in partnership with the Global Ethical Finance Initiative - GEFI) has sought to raise the profile of the SDGs and positively influence the behaviour of banks, credit unions, asset managers, social investors and wealth managers. By highlighting global best practice and emphasising the business benefits a number of EFH stakeholders have developed plans to better align with the SDGs. Earlier this year the EFH gained national press coverage for becoming the first Scottish-focused financial body to endorse the UNEP FI Principles for Responsible Banking. The EFH is now in talks with UNEP FI regarding the promotion of the Principles for Positive Impact Finance in Scotland.

As well as advocacy the EFH is developing an SDG advisory offering that includes services such as capacity building, developing the business case, mapping, updating policies / procedures, measuring, monitoring and reporting. With a lack of academic or professional courses available to provide commercially-focused SDG training the EFH has launched an executive education course, to be delivered in partnership with UNDP and Scottish Government in May 2019, that will provide Scottish finance practitioners with the knowledge and tools to bring the SDGs to life within their organisations.

At the global level, the EFH has worked in partnership with UNDP, Scottish Government, FaithInvest and GEFI to develop and refine the project scope for a £1 million, 2 year programme of collaboration aimed at mobilising private capital for SDGs.

Challenges and next steps

While Scotland’s productivity growth over the past ten years from 2007 to 2017 has been faster than the UK as a whole, our position compared to international trading partners in the OECD has remained unchanged.

To respond to these challenges, the Scottish Government’s Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board has developed a Strategic Plan with a clear focus on driving up productivity and maximising the return on the investment in Scotland’s enterprise and skills system. The Scottish Government is supporting businesses to harness digital technology to promote business innovation and productivity. It is committed to ensuring that Scotland has a skilled and productive workforce, both now and in the future and its Future Skills Action Plan outlines how we will re-orientate Scotland’s skills system towards future opportunities and challenges. In recognition of the role that innovation plays in driving improved productivity, competitiveness and growth, the Scottish Government have increased existing business research & development annual grant funding and are investing £48 million in a National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland.

In 2018 the employment rate of disabled people was 35.5 percentage points lower than non-disabled people. Overall there are challenges around supporting people with disadvantages into flexible sustainable employment: with insufficient focus on individualised support and tackling the root causes of people’ reluctance or inability to work. Employment support tends to be a one-size-fits-all service. As such the increasing focus on one-to-one services, such as those offered by PACE services, will be of increasing importance.

In 2018, the employment rate for the minority ethnic population aged 16‑64 was 55.4%, lower than the white population which had an employment rate of 75.1%. This is a gap in employment rates between minority ethnic and white people aged 16 to 64 years of 19.7 percentage points. Over time, the white population has consistently had an employment rate which exceeds the minority ethnic population. The minority ethnic employment gap was much higher for women than men in 2018; for women the minority ethnic employment gap was 26.8 percentage points and for men it was 11.2 percentage points.

Further, people with a disability experience lower rates of employment and lower pay than non-disabled people. Employment rates vary considerably by impairment with people with depression and learning disabilities the least likely to be in employment.

We are at the end of the beginning of the digital age. Until now, the development of the digital economy in Scotland has followed a path similar to most other countries, focusing on the bulk provision of connectivity, skills and promotion of the opportunities presented by the new technologies. In parallel though, there has been an awakening amongst both government and society to the less-benign side of the story, with digital technology making it easier to provide sub-optimal employment solutions, to move wealth from poor to rich and to avoid redistribution thereafter. The digital economy is also revealing a ‘winner takes all’ phenomenon leading to almost total market domination by those who have the deepest pockets. The situation is summed-up well in the recently published report from Nesta, Imagination Unleashed: Democratising the Knowledge Economy. In discussions between the authors and Scottish representatives, it was clear that Scotland recognised the threats more than other regions of the UK, and that treading a ‘vanilla’ path was no longer a palatable option for Scotland, and is not supportive of the SDGs. The possible future paths are captured well in the recent EIT Digital report, Digital Transformation of European Industry: A Policy Perspective (which is likely to set the EU agenda on this issue). Hard choices will need to be made, but if Scotland actively decides to follow the digital economy path that best resonates with its other social policies, there is a clear opportunity to be a leading “fair digital nation”.

Scottish Enterprise are currently working through a proposal from UNGSII Foundation, with a view to creating a Sustainable Development Hub in Edinburgh against theme 3: Good Health and Wellbeing. This was an inward investment enquiry and we have met with representatives on UNGSII Foundation and the World Health Innovation Summit and are currently undertaking diligence against the opportunity. If it proceeds, there could be a very positive connection to make not only for that theme, but to then link into the other 16 SDGs and the networks which connect them together.

Scottish Enterprise is also currently working with the Scottish Government on the new mandatory diversity element of the Pledge which will focus on encouraging more companies to address their gender pay gap through effective action planning. This along with changes to the Pledge such as peer-to-peer networking, having a business led advisory group and making internationalisation an optional element should encourage greater take up of the initiative and increase fair work practices in the business community.

Commitments in the Scottish Government’s 2019-20 Programme for Government that relate to this Goal

  • A £3 billion Green Investment Portfolio over the next three years for projects supporting Scotland’s response to the climate emergency
  • Extending the current Growth Accelerator to become a Green Growth Accelerator, allowing local authorities to invest in emissions-reducing infrastructure for their area
  • Working with Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Government will develop and publish a Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, which will set out a framework for skills investment as our economy transitions to net zero
  • The Scottish Government’s support for manufacturing through the National Manufacturing Institute Skills Academy and the new Advanced Skills Academy at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc will help businesses take advantage of new supply chain opportunities as Scotland and other countries seek to decarbonise
  • The Scottish Government will continue its support for the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, with further funding of up to £11.1 million agreed up to 2023
  • A refreshed Scottish Business Pledge, more closely aligned with Fair Work principles and incorporating environmental impact for the first time, will be launched this year



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