Scottish Employer Skills Survey 2020: Technical Report

Technical report for the Scottish Employer Skills Survey 2020.


The Scottish Employer Skills Survey (ESS) 2020 gathered labour market intelligence (LMI) on employer skills needs and training activity among employers in Scotland.

The publication of the Scottish ESS follows a longstanding UK-wide ESS series (including Scotland) which was conducted biennially from 2011 to 2017. The 2020 survey was undertaken within the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Fieldwork was conducted between 20th October and 22nd December 2020, during which period the level of restrictions in different areas of Scotland were under constant review and changing frequently. At the start of fieldwork, after a summer of the economy gradually re-opening, the Scottish 'Central Belt' was back under tighter restrictions and all bars and restaurants were closed. A COVID-19 protection level system came into effect on 2nd November, with the worst-hit areas at that point in Level 3. A week later many were moved to Level 4, with the system regularly reviewed, and restrictions tightened or relaxed in different areas throughout fieldwork.[1]

This technical report provides background information on the methodology used for carrying out the Scottish ESS. It is divided into six chapters, each considering a different area of survey design and methodology in detail:

  • Sample design: detailing the method by which employers were selected to take part in the research, including the setting of quota targets and sample volumes;
  • Questionnaire design: detailing the considerations taken into account in the design of the questionnaire, including comparability with previous UK-wide surveys, new question areas, and the methods by which the survey was tested and refined to ensure high quality data collection;
  • Fieldwork: providing a detailed overview of how the interviews were carried out, quality control procedures, and the levels of response achieved;
  • Data preparation:outlining the process for editing data and coding verbatim responses collected in the survey;
  • Weighting: detailing how the survey responses were processed to ensure that the resulting dataset was representative of the population of businesses in Scotland; and
  • Using the data: considering the reliability and margins of statistical error of figures produced from the dataset.



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