Building a fairer Scotland together

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.

Working in partnership

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.

How we're working with our partners

We're working with experts in equality and diversity, alongside our own specialist staff, to support our workforce and customers.

  • Equality Advisory Group

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.

  • Equality Challenge Unit

Our work with the ECU includes gathering customer disability information to identify how training providers can better enable individuals to disclose this data.

We have also worked with the ECU to create Equality Toolkits for training providers and employers, and staff and partners.

“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

How we're promoting best practice from within

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.

How we’re working with employers

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.

Our employer web service Our Skillsforce reinforces these positive messages to employers and provides checklists, tips and guidance on how to embrace diversity.

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

How we’re supporting training providers

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.

Resources to support trainers

  • Toolkit materials for employers and training providers offer guidance on how they can support individuals. 
  • Resource Guides have been developed to help our partners working with young people who have Additional Support Needs, to identify the support available to enable them to enter, sustain and progress on National Training Programmes.
  • We also work with providers to help them create Equality Action Plans.

How apprenticeships are creating a more diverse workforce

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.

Action Plan for Equalities

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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Equality Funds

Our Equality Challenge Fund and Employers’ Equality Action Fund are aimed at widening access to Modern Apprenticeships and improving equality and diversity.

The funds support projects that help more women, disabled people, care leavers and those from minority ethnic communities into apprenticeships.

Foundation 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

How we’re paving a more even career path for our young people

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

How research and insight is breaking down barriers

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.

Equality Impact Assessments inform all our products and services during design and use while regular Equality Evidence Reviews support continuous improvement of our work.

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.

Regular surveys of apprentice employers and individual apprentices also capture data that helps us make improvements. Our MA Equalities Action plan, which is undergoing evaluation, can be found 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.

What's next?

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 to find out what you can do and how we'll support you.

Looking for different policies?

All SDS policies can be searched and filtered from the Publications and Statistics section.

More SDS policies

Lights, camera, action... our spotlight on apprenticeships

What does an apprentice look like?

Apprenticeships are for everyone. They're about finding the right careers for our young people whatever their age, gender or background. We want their skills to grow with our economy.

Monisha on Foundation Apprenticeships

Monisha reveals how doing a Foundation Apprenticeship in financial services is preparing her for the world of work and a possible Modern Apprenticeship.

Build new lives in Scotland

Beyar and Ibrahim both arrived in Scotland as children. A love of working with their hands has led them to do apprenticeships in construction.

How to build a girl

The Construction Industry Training Board is encouraging schoolgirls into the industry

Shipshape for the future

Danny Logue, Director of Operations at Skills Development Scotland, meets Laura Black at BAE Systems to talk apprenticeships in shipbuilding.

Careers in digital media

Damien Yeates, CEO of Skills Development Scotland, visits NS Design in Glasgow to find out how effective a Modern Apprenticeship is for starting your career in Digital Media.

Zoom into work

On Day 2 of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016, GTG Training hosted an open day at their centre in Glasgow to showcase their business and facilities, explain automotive apprenticeships on offer and encourage more young people to apply.

Carve out a career

Glasgow Traditional Building Forum event on Day 1 of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016 offered an opportunity for young people to try out traditional building skills, such as bricklaying, stain glass, stone carving.

Benefits of taking on apprentices

AXA Finance hosted an event for employers to showcase the benefits that apprenticeships bring to business. Employers from all levels heard from the apprentices about why the programme works for them.

Skills Development Scotland board member Willie Mackie turns apprentice for the day

The Ayrshire College chair tries his hand at riveting as part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2016.

Related documents

11 April 2017

Equality & Diversity

Training Provider Equality Action Plan 2017-18

PDF 125 Kb

6 July 2016

Equality & Diversity

Exemplar Provider EAP

PDF 203 Kb

7 June 2016

Equality & Diversity

E&D toolkit for staff and partners

PDF 2506 Kb

7 June 2016

Equality & Diversity

E&D for employers and training providers

PDF 1394 Kb

5 June 2015

Equality & Diversity

Equality Evidence Review

PDF 491 Kb

View all Equality publications