Scotland's careers strategy - moving forward: Fairer Scotland Duty

Fairer Scotland Duty assessment for the careers strategy for Scotland.

Careers Strategy for Scotland: Moving Forward

Summary of aims and expected outcomes of strategy, proposal, programme or policy

Ensure Scotland has a life-long a careers system and services which deliver high quality, personalised and appropriate support to the user at point of need regardless of age, setting or circumstances. It should also be accessible and enable individuals to make informed career decisions based on their interests, strengths and ambitions in order to fulfil their potential. It will also seek to ensure that career decisions are not influenced or restricted by stereotyping or perceived barriers which may prevent people from participating in the labour market.

The new Careers Strategy will ensure that the careers system and services are more joined up, responsive, adaptable and flexible to adapt to the changing economic and political environment in order to delivery inclusive economic growth and create a fairer Scotland.

The Careers Strategy is part of the Scottish Government's wider reform to effectively integrate and align all our careers, employability and skills support and services. This joined up approach will support our ambitions to tackle child poverty by providing lifelong careers advice that seeks to help people to maximise incomes, boosting life chances and help build sustainable communities.

It will impact on the following National Outcomes:

  • We realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people
  • Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens

Summary of evidence

There is a socio economic gap for some people in Scotland across and within the protected characteristic groups in terms of educational and labour market outcomes. The interaction of certain protected characteristics leads to some of the greatest inequalities.

  • Gender segregation is evident early on in school and carries on into the labour market with both females and males under-represented in certain subjects and occupations. This contributes towards the overall gender pay gap which currently sits at 14.3% in Scotland. While some ethnic minority groups perform well in the education system in terms of attainment their labour market outcomes are far poorer in comparison to the wider population. Significant variations exist across and within ethnic groups. This is evident within the both employment and pay gap rates which are .
  • Outcomes for disabled individuals both, in education and the labour market, also tend to be poorer than the wider population. Again there are variations dependent on type of disability. The employment gap for disabled people is currently 45.4%, compared to 81.2% for non-disabled people, representing a gap of 35.8 percentage points.
  • Looked after children have particularly poor outcomes in terms of educational attainment and labour market outcomes.
  • Gaps in data mean that we have limited evidence for some of the protected characteristics; particularly for LGBT and religion or belief.
  • The Labour Force Survey Aug-Oct 2019 show that the employment rate of 16-64 year olds rose by 0.4pp to 74.5%, the unemployment rate of those over 16 fell by 0.3pp to 3.7% and the activity rate of people aged between 16 and 64 rose by 0.7% to 22.6%.

Further evidence gathered for the CIAG Action Plan highlighted disparities in the following equality groups:

ASN/Disability - it is widely acknowledged that disabled people and those with ASN often have lower levels of qualifications and poorer employment outcomes than the general population. Consultation with partners by SDS suggested ASN/disabled individuals may lack confidence or fear discrimination.[1]

Age - It is those at the younger (16 to 24 years) and older (generally categorised as 50 years and over) ends of the age spectrum who face inequalities and disadvantage in the labour market. SDS evidence review suggests that long-term unemployment is one of the most significant challenges facing the over 50s. Reasons that older people may find it difficult to get back into work include age discrimination, outdated interview skills and lack of confidence. A lack of formal qualifications or being over qualified are also factors.

Consultation with partners also identified that men in this age bracket may be less inclined to seek help and access services than women.[1]

Care-Experienced - The annual publication, Education outcomes for Scotland's Looked After Children [2], highlights that those who are care experienced persistently have some of the poorest outcomes in society. They are often less likely to secure and sustain an education, training or employment opportunity after school and far less likely to enter higher education. The experiences and needs of young care experienced people vary by placement type and an understanding of these different experiences is needed to better support them.

Ethnic Minority - SDS Equality Evidence Review highlights that people from ethnic minority communities tend to do well at school and progress to higher education in larger numbers than the rest of the population. However, these achievements are often not reflected in labour market outcomes.[6]

Gender - In the SDS review of equality evidence it was clear that there are still gender differences in both subject and course choice in school, further and higher education and within the labour market, including apprenticeships.

Poverty – The Scottish Government's briefing, Poverty & Income Inequality in Scotland: 2014 – 17 [3]-. Income inequality continued to rise over this period, with those in the lowest income households falling further behind those in the middle and highest. Poverty can be a barrier itself to people progressing their careers, for example not having access to the resources they need to research and apply for opportunities, feeling that they can't afford to pursue certain pathways and not having access to the same networks as others to support their career. In-work poverty is a serious problem. In 2013/14, half (50%) of working age adults in relative poverty after housing costs were in "in-work poverty‟. That is, they were living in households with at least one adult in employment, and they were still poor. The same was true for more than half (56%) of children in poverty. Employment can no longer be viewed as a route out of poverty. More needs to be done to ensure what is taught at school can be used to improve a young person's chances in the economy. [5]

Pregnancy and Maternity - The evidence outlined in SDS's Equality Evidence Review [4] suggests that starting a family can have negative, long-term consequences on women's participation in the labour market. This is due, in part, to women returning from maternity requiring part-time work to allow them to balance caring responsibilities for their young children. Part-time opportunities in high-skilled employment are limited which means that many women may be "underemployed" on their return to work. Part-time work is often low skilled with little training or prospects of progression.

Religion and Belief - SDS's review of equality evidence [4] found that Muslim people face the greatest economic disadvantages of any group in society, with unemployment rates more than twice that of the general population. The disadvantage is particularly high for Muslim women. Reasons for this include discrimination and Islamophobia, stereotyping and insufficient role models across education and employment.

Sexual Orientation - In 2017, the Scottish Government published a Summary of the Evidence Base for Sexual Orientation in Scotland. The summary highlighted that those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or other were three times more likely to be unemployed than those who identify as heterosexual. This is despite LGB people being more likely to have a degree or professional qualification. [4]

Transgender - The Scottish Trans Alliance outlines the challenges for trans people in employment, including high levels of unemployment and self-employment and below average incomes. They report that trans people often experience transphobic comments in the workplace and fear people finding out in case it threatens their job security.

Summary of assessment findings

The outcomes of this Assessment demonstrate that the Careers Strategy has potential to reduce socioeconomic disadvantage. In particular the Strategy's 4 principles will:

  • Ensure the Scottish career system operates with all strategic and delivery partners working collaboratively to ensure every individual can access support whilst adhering to common values of equity of access and the quality of services and practitioners.
  • Embedding career services within wider employability and learning services, helping people understand the importance of seeking advice about their options throughout their life.
  • Every individual, especially those who face the most complex and challenging barriers, have the right support so that they can understand the contribution they can make to our society, challenge their aspirations, access the information and advice to make informed choices about their futures and know how to take advantage of the opportunities within the labour market – today and in the future.

Enhancement across the careers system and our ambition is to work with individuals who access services and delivery partners to develop career system that –

  • has a national model for career information advice and guidance services
  • has simple to access and aligned digital services and platforms across the system;
  • employers and workers utilise to develop skills and explore career enhancement;
  • can work collaboratively through a cross-sectoral body to continually improve the system and services; and;
  • has a focus on Quality Assurance and Equity at its heart.

The strategy acknowledges that there are a wide range of agencies involved in CIAG system who support marginalised and vulnerable groups. There are many career learning activities that take place in libraries, job centres, high street one-stop-shops, gyms, cafés, community centres and in people's houses. The co-design of services for vulnerable groups across agencies requires "flexibility and a focus on nurturing relationships. It involves the ability to work with uncertainty and ambiguity across organisational boundaries. These skills include the ability to inspire others into whole-system thinking and recognitions of shared problems" (Ramsden, 2019). Targeted services can achieve more positive outcomes when agencies work more closely together achieve shared goals.

Local support mechanisms for individuals and families to adjust and make successful transitions into new communities are essential. CIAG services can support individual paths to self-sufficiency, better well-being and provide stability by addressing trauma, displacement, mental health, transitional readjustment, or simply opening up access to opportunities, and creating new ones. Each of these services provides a place and space for individuals and/or groups to find their own identity and to gain a sense of hope and optimism for a better future. The Assessment highlights that active steps must be taken by the Scottish Government and partners during the implementation stage in order, to realise these outcomes.. Therefore the SG, alongside an implementation group formed of representation from across the sector, will consult with interest/specialist groups and user groups whilst drafting the plan of how this strategy will be implemented.

Sign off

Name: Gavin Gray

Job title: Deputy Director



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