Skills Development Scotland works with a range of partners to help embed equality and diversity across the organisation. Our goal is to ensure our services are accessible to all, whoever they are, wherever they live, whatever their needs.
Widening access to opportunities in the workplace and encouraging cultural change takes collaboration and commitment.
These partnerships help us ensure that our products are available to everyone regardless of their age; gender; disability; gender reassignment; race; pregnancy/maternity; marriage/civil partnership; sexual orientation and religion or belief.
We're working with experts in equality and diversity, alongside our own specialist staff, to support our workforce and customers.
We work with these organisations: Close the Gap; Glasgow Disability Alliance; Engender; STUC; Capability Scotland; Scottish Transgender Alliance; the support organisation for care leavers STAF; Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living; Stonewall Scotland; the national ethnic minorities led umbrella body BEMIS and the Scottish Refugee Council.
Our key stakeholders provide us with expert advice to ensure we consider the needs of all our customers when developing and delivering services.
Our work with the ECU includes gathering customer disability information to identify how training providers can better enable individuals to disclose this data.
“At BEMIS we are dedicated to building strong partnerships for ethnic and cultural minority communities across Scotland to ensure fairness and equality of opportunity for all. Working together increases accessibility for young people building replicable solutions, whilst creating a diverse workforce that meets Scotland’s future economic needs, increases social mobility and promotes strong, vibrant communities.”
Ann McInnes, Programme Co-ordinator, Bemis, one of SDS's partners
Staff from across Skills Development Scotland help spread our message by promoting information on equality issues, developments and best practice.
Our Equality Champions are dedicated front-line staff from across Scotland who volunteer to support colleagues and encourage equality and diversity across our activities.
Skills Development Scotland's Equality Management Group, made up of senior members of staff from across the organisation, drives forward this agenda.
We also work with Board members and external partners to promote equality and diversity through our Equality Advisory Group.
Workforce-wide all colleagues and managers complete equality and diversity e-learning training modules.
Toolkits for staff encourage an inclusive culture throughout the organisation.
SDS is a Disability Confident employer. This means we have agreed to take action to meet our commitment regarding the employment, retention, training and career development of disabled employees.
We also continue to be a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion to promote best practice for sexual orientation and gender identity equality.
The message we’re sending to employers is this: equality is good for business. A diverse workforce is a more creative one.
Fostering an inclusive working environment helps bridge skills gaps and harnesses different experiences, backgrounds and approaches.
Incentives for employers
We help deliver some of the Scottish Government’s Employer Recruitment Incentives including the Targeted Young People Employer Recruitment Incentive, which helps young people who need additional support to access the world of work.
We are also committed to ensuring National Training Programmes, such as our apprenticeships, are accessible.
And our Equality Toolkits for employers offer additional online support.
"A diverse workforce is crucial to the long-term success and sustainability of any modern business. A business is successful because of the people within it and employing a varied and diverse workforce creates a hotbed for innovative ideas."
Anna West, HR Manager at CMS Windows, as part of an Equate Scotland case study
We are committed to ensuring the Modern Apprenticeship programme, pre-employment training programmes and our other services are accessible and support diversity in Scotland.
SDS has provided free training for training providers through webinars and workshops as part of our Get Connected series of events to support equality and diversity in Modern Apprenticeships.
Sessions have focused on practical steps to develop and implement equality and diversity practice in areas such as recruitment and selection, learner support, and stakeholder relationships.
In partnership with the Scottish Training Federation and other stakeholders, SDS is developing initiatives aimed at improving the reach and inclusivity of the Modern Apprenticeship programme. We’re specifically developing employer incentives for under-represented groups.
Modern, Foundation and Graduate Level Apprenticeships aren’t just equipping our young people with the right skills to grow our economy.
We’re also addressing the low numbers of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds, young disabled people and care leavers entering apprenticeships.
We're also working hard to address gender imbalances, for example, by encouraging girls to consider sectors such as construction and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics sectors.
More young Scots from diverse backgrounds will benefit from apprenticeship opportunities thanks to the Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships, which is being evaluated.
Meet the NTP Equality Team who are looking at how to improve representation in the Modern Apprenticeship programme.
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The funds support projects that help more women, disabled people, care leavers and those from minority ethnic communities into apprenticeships.
Foundation Apprenticeships allow pupils to complete elements of an apprenticeship while still at school.
As well as closing the gap between the classroom and the workplace, Foundation Apprenticeships can help address gender imbalances and improve diversity further along the pipeline by introducing more young people to apprenticeships earlier.
"I never thought, because of my dyslexia, that I could ever do a job that would entail admin and typing a lot, and doing a lot with letters and numbers.”
Amy Renwick, Modern Apprentice in Business Admin
The Career Information Advice and Guidance team are increasingly focusing on engaging with young people earlier in their academic life and supporting them through to their entry into sustained employment.
Our greater interaction with industry means we can factor in their projected demand for skills in the future.
The Career Education Standard, supported by SDS, aims to tackle youth unemployment by better preparing young people for the world of work.
Amongst other activities, new digital career education resources aimed at primary 5 to 7 pupils will be widely available this August as part of My World of Work.
The CIAG team also supports young people with disabilities to access training and employment opportunities.
We’re also reaching young Scots with inclusive messages regarding gender, abilities and background in order to change their and the country’s cultural landscape.
“It’s a privilege to advise and guide a young person on their journey through school and watch them go into work, training, further education or an apprenticeship. Their confidence and ability grows in front of your eyes, and it’s priceless seeing the smile on their face when they come to tell you they’ve got the offer they wanted.”
Annah Masahi, School Careers Adviser
Our statistics and research help us understand and tackle the equality and diversity challenges that people are facing across Scotland.
All of our research projects consider equality to help us understand the factors that influence access to opportunities, as well as the choices made by individuals and employers.
Customer insight and speaking to people to provide qualitative information is key to widening access to services and understanding different needs.
Our Equality and Diversity Mainstreaming Report 2015-2017 provides an update on the progress made against our Equality Outcomes published in our 2013 report.
It reaffirms our ambition to ensure equality of opportunity for all of our customers and our staff.
Making improvements for apprentices
Quarterly and annual statistics for Modern Apprenticeships include data on gender, ethnicity, disability and care experienced individuals.
See the latest Modern Apprenticeship figures for 2015-16 here.
The publication Modern Apprenticeships – Disability Disclosure considered different approaches to equalities monitoring adopted by other organisations and how this might affect disclosure rates.
SDS’s sponsored PhD research programme also supports equality and diversity. Current research topics include gender segregation in apprenticeships.
Skills Development Scotland has run a series of activities that aim to get more young women to consider roles in STEM professions.
The First Minister backed the Ayrshire College campaign that encourages more women to think about sport and STEM careers.
If you're an employer, you can visit Our Skillsforce for helpful advice on diversity and equality including legal requirements around recruitment.
If you're thinking of becoming an apprentice, then head to Apprenticeships.scot to find out what you can do and how we'll support you.