Chapter 8 Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
The Economy, Jobs and Fair Work portfolio is central to delivering Scotland's Economic Strategy and achieving a more competitive and inclusive economy, improving Scotland's ability to withstand economic shocks, sustain higher employment, and create better quality jobs and fairer work.
Crucially, we recognise that increasing growth and tackling inequality are mutually supportive in making Scotland a more successful country with opportunities for all to flourish. The scope of the portfolio is explicitly concerned with promoting the kind of growth that spreads its benefits more equally:
- Across the protected characteristics and socio-economic groups - tackling inequalities and barriers that prevent individuals from participating fully in the economy. This includes areas such as skills, health, social capital, networks, access, opportunities and tackling discrimination.
- Across place and communities - Promoting more equal growth across regions, cities, rural areas and communities, embracing joint working with local actors.
Key Strategic Priorities
The main equality implications of the portfolio's programmes have been organised into four strategic priorities - investment, innovation, internationalisation and inclusive growth. Our approach to delivering Scotland's Economic Strategy, which sets out the dual objectives of boosting competitiveness and tackling inequalities, is also focused around these strategic priorities.
As a result of this focus, the 2017-18 Draft Budget has protected or increased spending in many of the areas most explicitly focused on advancing equality and tackling inequalities across regions. This assessment also discusses how the portfolio is taking account of regional inequalities.
Equality Implications of the Draft Budget 2017-18
The 2017-18 Draft Budget helps tackle the gender gap in enterprise by providing increased support for the Women In Enterprise Action Framework which is recognised as delivering world-leading best-practice. We acknowledge that there is much to do to boost women's participation in enterprise-related activity, and that the economy stands to gain significantly from making progress in this area. As such, we are committed to supporting projects that will enable women-led businesses to invest and grow. Additional funding for work with Women's Enterprise Scotland to celebrate role models across all sectors and from all backgrounds who inspire women into enterprise will also help advance equality for women in business.
Despite a very challenging funding environment, the portfolio continues to invest in Scottish Enterprise, a key delivery partner for Scotland's Innovation Action Plan. Scottish Enterprise will need to ensure that equality issues are carefully considered in the re structuring of its programmes. Key programmes to advance equality include:
- One of the challenges in manufacturing is a marked under-representation of women in the workforce. A major factor driving this is qualification choices with fewer women taking STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)-oriented degrees and modern apprenticeships. Through the Manufacturing Action Plan, Scottish Enterprise will ensure that future investment in STEM education and training is aimed at shifting the gender balance.
- Scottish Enterprise's work aligns with the aims of the Developing the Young Workforce Strategy. This seeks to ensure that in the senior phase of school young people are not gender stereotyped when considering career choices. School and employer partnerships, work placements and career education standards are important in promoting equality and helping young people improve their understanding and readiness for employment.
Scotland's focus on Fair Work includes a focus on innovative and productive workplace practices through the independent Fair Work Convention and support for Scottish Enterprise to develop a Workplace Innovation Service. This is aimed at helping firms develop new ways of working to make the best use of all resources - people, processes and relationships - to deliver their objectives while also creating workforces that will drive Scotland's productivity, innovation and competitiveness. This will have important equality implications for the key groups facing disadvantage as promoting diversity is a key part of this initiative.
Global Scotland - Scotland's Trade and Investment Strategy promotes the Business Pledge, advocating that businesses should pay the Living Wage, invest in young people and promote diversity. This has positive implications for equality and tackling socio-economic disadvantage as discussed further below.
Within the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work portfolio, policies which promote inclusive growth - in particular in relation to reducing barriers to employment and improving working conditions - are key to advancing equality in Scotland.
The Scottish Government's new employability powers will be key to advancing equality. From 2017-18, the Scottish Government will be responsible for delivery of a new range of employability services to address issues in the current approach taken by the Department for Work and Pensions. From Spring 2017, the Scottish Government will provide support for those who face multiple challenges in finding work, including a specific focus on disabled people. The Scottish Government has committed substantial additional funding on employability support, illustrating the importance placed on this area.
Portfolio expenditure supports the Scottish Business Pledge, an initiative to encourage inclusive economic growth through progressive business practices amongst businesses operating in Scotland. It is a voluntary commitment to nine modern business practices, including paying the Living Wage, innovation, internationalisation, gender-balanced Boards and workforces, and investing in young people.
More broadly, the portfolio is increasing its investment in Fair Work which is key to unlocking inclusive growth within Scotland and will have significant potential positive benefits for those in key equality groups. The programme has a focus on workplace equality issues across the private, public and third sectors:
- As set out in the Labour Market Strategy, the Scottish Government is developing a Workplace Equality Fund. This fund will contribute to establishing approaches to drive good practice and reduce employment inequality, discrimination and barriers in the workplace.
- The Scottish Government supports disabled people by promoting the supported employment framework. We are working closely with partners, including local authorities, to support them to develop and deliver a 'place and train' model locally in mainstream employment.
- The Scottish Government is working with employers, third sector and public bodies to set up an employer support network for those interested in recruiting people with convictions.
- In line with the goals set out in the Race Equality Framework, the Scottish Government is supporting the employability of migrants and refugees by exploring options around the recognition of overseas qualifications. Glasgow University's Training and Employment Research Unit is reviewing and updating the recommendations of the 2010 'Scoping Study on Support Mechanisms for the Recognition of Skills, Learning and Qualifications of Migrant Workers and Refugees', the report for which will be completed in the Autumn.
The portfolio continues to deliver a range of services for young people, with spending in this area protected. Through our Youth Employment Strategy the Scottish Government is focused on removing barriers for young people facing key equality disadvantages:
- Developing Scotland's Young Workforce Programme targets include reducing gender imbalance in subject groups of college courses and improving positive destinations for looked after children.
- The employment prospects of young people facing the greatest barriers to employment, including young disabled people, will continue to be enhanced through training opportunities delivered by the third sector via Community Jobs Scotland.
- Investing in a new programme for young people who have been in care will help them access appropriate work, training or education opportunities.
Addressing Regional Inequalities - Key Place Considerations from the 2017-18 Draft Budget
In addition to advancing equality, the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work portfolio is also increasingly focused on reducing inequality - including socio-economic disparities - across the regions, localities and communities of Scotland. Scotland's Economic Strategy has a strong focus on promoting more equal growth across Scotland's places, as well as embracing joint working with communities.
The portfolio is investing in our people, infrastructure and assets across Scotland to address regional disparities in economic performance, with efforts being focused on projects designed to impact significantly across Scotland's diverse areas. For example, the Government's protected spending on the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme will support community investment in commercial schemes and benefit communities.
One of the key outcomes of the first phase of the Enterprise and Skills Review was the need to focus on how enterprise and skills services are delivered on a national and local level:
- Recognising the different social, economic and community development challenges facing the Highlands and Islands, the Scottish Government will maintain dedicated support which is locally based, managed and directed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise ( HIE).
- In recognition of the unique challenges faced in the region, the Scottish Government will create a new vehicle to meet the enterprise and skills needs of the South of Scotland. This will be accountable to the new Scotland-wide statutory Board alongside our other enterprise and skills bodies.
The Scottish Government is also investing in City Deal proposals in Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, as well as developing new deals in Edinburgh, Tay and Stirling. We are also progressing the collaborative Regional Partnership Plans. The Scottish Government will publish Equality Impact Assessments ( EQIAs) for each of the City Region Deals. Where possible, EQIAs will be published at the same time as Deal documents.
This portfolio is at the heart of the government's ambition to deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Increasing diversity and removing barriers is not only a social benefit but also helps drive economic growth. In a tough fiscal climate, the Scottish Government has protected or increased spend in many areas which advance equality. In addition, the portfolio is strongly focused on reducing inequality, including socio-economic disparities across the regions, localities and communities of Scotland, for example through new City Deals, and investment in regional enterprise vehicles.
Email: Paul Tyrer