Background and policy context
The economic context in which the 2019 Scottish EPS was undertaken, and that in which previous runs of the UK-wide EPS were undertaken, is important in considering and analysing the results.
Equalities and diversity
The Scottish EPS 2019 has introduced new questions around equality and diversity relating to recruitment. 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 previous 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: https://www.acas.org.uk/media/4764/Managing-gender-pay-reporting/pdf/Managing_gender_pay_reporting_07.02.19.pdf
The regionalisation of colleges, which resulted in fewer, larger institutions is now largely embedded. There continues to be structural changes to the skills landscape, with increased focus on alignment and co-operation between the skills and enterprise agencies.
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’. Whilst the term ‘work experience’ has become synonymous with a stand-alone, week-long experience of the workplace, 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 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. This is to lead to a more focused experience of work in the senior phase, in the form of work placements.
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 includes new questions focusing specifically on this policy area.
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. This is part of longer term aims to establish parity of esteem between vocational and academic pathways, and to improve positive outcomes for all young people.
The DYW programme includes 21 employer-led Regional Groups, which work to foster employer-education partnerships. Another role of DYW Regional Groups is to encourage employers to work together.
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 recently introduced two new types of Apprenticeship: Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs), and Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs).
Foundation Apprenticeships (FAs) were first introduced in 2014. They provide work-based learning opportunities for senior phase secondary school pupils. FAs are designed and developed with industry and the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and are aligned to key sectors of the economy. They are based on existing Modern Apprenticeship frameworks and enable pupils to complete elements of a Modern Apprenticeship while still in school. FAs provide qualifications which are at the same level of learning as a Higher (SCQF level 6). During their FA, pupils attend a college or learning provider where they build up their knowledge and skills, which they then put into practice in a workplace with an employer.
Graduate Apprenticeships (GAs) were introduced in 2017. They provide a new route into degree-level study for individuals who are currently employed, or for individuals wanting to go straight into work. They are available to individuals aged 16 or over and combine a degree course (up to masters level) with paid employment. The GA programme is delivered through partnerships between employers, colleges and universities. GAs provide industry recognised, employer-specific qualifications in key sectors where there is a need for skilled employees. They have flexible entry and exit points that recognise an individual's previous qualifications and experience.