Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey 2021

Results from the 2021 Scottish Employer Perspectives Survey.

Background and policy context

It is important to note that the Scottish EPS 2021 was the first in the EPS series to take place since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought about vast changes to the employment landscape and how employers have engaged with the skills system. For example, COVID-19 restrictions may have prevented employers from providing training that they normally would or from offering work placements. It is also important to consider that certain sectors would have been more adversely affected by COVID-19 than others. For example those in hospitality and recreational subsectors, which are covered in the 'Trade, Accommodation and Transport' and 'Business and Other Services' broad sectors, may have faced more acute challenges due to COVID-19 restrictions. These factors should be considered when interpreting results from the survey and any comparisons by sector over time should be made with caution.

The policy context in which the 2021 Scottish EPS was undertaken, and that in which previous runs of the EPS were undertaken, is also important in considering and analysing the results.

The Young Person's Guarantee

The Young Person's Guarantee was introduced in November 2020 by the Scottish Government in response to challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the Guarantee is to connect every 16 to 24 year old in Scotland to an opportunity. This could be a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training programme, volunteering or enterprise opportunity.

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)

DYW is the Scottish Government's youth employment strategy, and has been in place since 2014. The Scottish EPS 2019 included new questions focusing specifically on this strategy and these have also been asked again in 2021.

DYW aims to provide more young people with a labour market-relevant range of work-based learning opportunities, vocational qualifications, and a broader range of post-education employment opportunities – a key way this is pursued is by fostering partnerships between local industry and employers, and education providers. The DYW programme includes 21 employer-led Regional Groups, which work to foster employer-education partnerships.

No One Left Behind

This is the devolved Scottish Government approach to employability provision. Under the scheme, participants receive support from an Employability Key Worker and work on an individual plan to help them reach their goals which includes activities designed to prepare for progression.

From 1 April 2019, the Scottish Government introduced the new No One Left Behind (NOLB) Employability Funding Stream, which is aimed at helping those members of society who face challenging barriers to finding and maintaining employment, and reach their true potential.

Fair Start Scotland

This is a Scottish Government employment support service which launched in 2018 and helps people living in Scotland to find work. Participants are provided with a personal advisor, who offers advice and guidance to find a job that best suits an individual's needs.

Jobcentre Plus's Kickstart scheme

Under this UK government-funded scheme, employers can offer youngsters aged 16-24 who are claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment a six-month work placement.


Apprenticeships in Scotland allow individuals to work whilst gaining an industry- recognised qualification and allow employers to develop their workforce through training new staff and upskilling existing employees. The Scottish Government has introduced three types of Apprenticeships: Modern Apprenticeships (MAs), Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs), and Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs). Descriptions of these can be found in the main body of the report.

Equalities and diversity

The Scottish EPS 2019 introduced new questions around equality and diversity relating to recruitment and these have also been asked in 2021. All employers are subject to the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (and so should avoid unlawful discrimination) and public sector organisations continue to be subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED), placing an obligation on them to positively promote equality across all protected characteristics.

Gender Pay Gap

Since the 2016 wave of EPS research, Gender Pay Gap legislation has come into force, and from 2018, employers with 250 or more employees have been required to publish information on their Gender Pay Gap.

Public sector employers must follow Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017, whilst all other private, voluntary and public sector employers must follow the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. There are minor exceptions and differences between these two sets of regulations. Most Scottish public authorities are subject to specific gender pay gap reporting obligations, and are part of the list of public authorities in Schedule 19 of the Equality Act that are excluded from the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. For further details, see the Gender pay gap reporting: guidance for employers on the GOV.UK website.

Work placements and work inspiration activities

Education Scotland's Work Placement Standard, introduced in 2015, provides a definition of work placements, and outlines the ways in which work placements are distinct from 'work experience'. Work placements are 'to enable young people to experience a relevant, challenging, enjoyable and appropriate learning experience within the contemporary workplace. A placement should help the young person to make informed decisions about their future career'. Work placements are to be personalised and flexible, with expectations set out before, during and after any placement and a greater focus on project-based learning whilst in a workplace setting. Young people are to also experience the 'world of work' through a range of 'work inspiration' activities throughout their broad general education, for example site visits to employers and mock interviews.



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