While the outbreak of COVID-19 has adversely affected many people across Scotland, evidence suggests that it has and will continue to have a significant effect on young people. For instance, employees under 25 were about two and a half times more likely to work in sectors experiencing shutdowns as part of responses to the pandemic. Research also highlights that young people who have recently left education and who have recently entered (or are about to enter) the labour market are more susceptible to long-term unemployment and pay scarring as a result of the pandemic.
COVID-19 has further exacerbated the existing inequalities experienced by young people with protected characteristics within education, training and labour market. These existing inequalities include structural racism, occupational segregation, pay and employment gaps, and wider socioeconomic disadvantages more likely to be experienced by particular groups of young people. This includes (but is not limited to) young people from minority ethnic and minority racial backgrounds, young disabled people, young women, young LGBTI+ people, young care experienced people, and young people living in rural and island communities. Therefore, in light of these issues, working to advance equality and eliminate discrimination must be integral to the delivery of the Young Person's Guarantee.
It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of protected characteristics they hold, and the law protects everyone from discrimination in employment - particularly on issues relating to dismissal; employment terms and conditions; pay and benefits; promotion and transfer opportunities; training; recruitment; and, redundancy. Nonetheless, the development of this EQIA and Equality Action Plan has has been mindful of the three requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty. The requirements being to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not; and, foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not. Further, the Government has been mindful of the need to mainstream the Equality Duty, meaning that equality must be integrated into the day-to-day implementation and delivery of the Guarantee. We have therefore sought to set this out in the Equality Action Plan, and through other avenues of support and guidance that will be provided to partners (including letters of guidance and through our grant awarding process).
Through undertaking this assessment, consideration has also been given to linking in with existing policies and impact assessments that will support delivery of the Guarantee. The Scottish Government will continue to consider what additional actions and improvements will be required when implementing the Guarantee to support young people with protected characteristics. This will be done through ongoing dialogue with stakeholders, through the proposed governance structures and the development of a process for monitoring and evaluating the Guarantee.