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Our Equality and Diversity Mainstreaming Report 2021-2025 is now available to download and read.

This, our fifth Mainstreaming Report, highlights the progress achieved against the four-year equality outcomes we set in 2017. It sets out examples of the ways in which we have worked, and continue to act, to promote and increase equality of opportunity for people in Scotland who face disadvantage because of their protected characteristics or lived experience.

The report also looks forward and demonstrates how, through a wide range of policies, initiatives, and continuous improvement activities, we’re working to embed equality and diversity throughout our organisation and meet our responsibilities as a public sector body.

Produced in collaboration with partners and colleagues from across the national Skills Development Scotland (SDS) network, the report includes:

  • Progress against our three previous Equality Outcomes  
  • An introduction to our five new Outcomes for the next four years  
  • Our pay gap information for gender, disability and race
  • Occupational segregation for gender, disability and race
  • Our Equality evidence review
  • SDS employee diversity information

Evidence review

Published alongside the report, the Equality Evidence Review, provides a recent review of research evidence in relation to education and employment across protected characteristics (as well as care experienced young people).

The review is broken into three sections:

  • School education
  • Further and higher education
  • Labour market

Each section is broken down into sub-sections for gender, ethnicity, ASN and disability, care experienced and sexual orientation.

Top line findings show:

  • There is evidence of persistent inequality across protected characteristics
  • Gender differences and inequality are evident from early on in school
  • Ethnic minorities as a whole perform comparatively well in education, but there are disparities across ethnic groups
  • Disabled people suffer from poorer outcomes in terms of work and learning (though dependent on the disability)
  • Outcomes for care experienced young people are poor in comparison to other groups and they are less likely to enter positive destinations
  • The COVID-19 pandemic impacts disproportionately on equality groups, in particular, those aged 16-24, minority ethnic communities, women and disabled people

The report shows that 72% of trans young people feel a low sense of self-efficacy as a barrier to their career goals compared to 66% of LGB peers. Furthermore, 29% of trans young people left education due to bullying.

In the labour market, our evidence shows that people in protected characteristics still face challenges. Those with learning disabilities and mental health issues face the greatest challenges in the education and labour market.

There are disparities across ethnic groups with gypsy travellers and white boys underperforming compared to other groups.

These examples clearly demonstrate more work is required to support people and businesses. Skills Development Scotland is working with partners across the skills and education landscape towards this goal. The report highlights a range of case studies and examples of our work.

In South Lanarkshire, a School Careers Adviser delivered a group session and one-to-one support for a small group of autistic pupils on their subject choices. This helped the young people to learn how to use their career management skills to prepare to make more confident and informed decisions about their future career options.

In Orkney, we deliver monthly group sessions and one-to-one appointments with young people attending The Connect Project. This Project supports young people with one or more barriers to employment, including mental health problems. Group sessions cover employability activities and one-to-one guidance sessions work are focussed on developing their career management skills.

We attend the Cross-Party Group (CPG) for Gypsy/Travellers and take part in their newly formed Education sub-group. This ensures we can learn from the community and work with partners to address their needs. Building trust and pro-actively encouraging engagement is key, and we continue to develop and adapt our approach to working with partners, including STEP.

In Glasgow, an SDS colleague was involved in supporting a group of young women who came to Scotland from the refugee encampment in Calais. Our colleague supported these customers in making the transition from school, advocating on their behalf with college services, supporting their application for funding and accompanying them on visits/appointments.

Meanwhile, the continued success and evolution of Apprenticeships across Scotland has helped challenge gender stereotypes, promoting inclusive career options for all communities.

As an employer

The report highlights the significant investments we have made to SDS as an organisation via:

  • Employee recruitment practices
  • Training and development opportunities
  • Young Talent programme
  • Increasing Board diversity
  • Commitment to equal pay

Positive changes have been made to our recruitment process to be more inclusive. We have also seen an increase in the number of applicants disclosing diversity monitoring information, which further helps us shape our practices.

While we recognise that there remains a number of underrepresented groups at SDS, there will continue to be a focus on improving diversity and inclusion across our workforce. SDS was delighted to be named joint 12th in Stonewall’s list of Top 100 Employers helping achieve acceptance without exception for all LGBT people and top Scottish employer for trans awareness.

Our focus is on harnessing inclusion in practice and valuing everybody in the workplace for the individual contributions that they make to our combined achievements. Individuals shouldn’t have to adjust who they are to fit in, instead, we want everybody to feel that they can bring their whole self to work. That way we’ll be able to tap into diverse perspectives and insights, and help ensure we deliver the best services and outcomes for our customers.

Carolyn Anderson, Director of Human Resources, Skills Development Scotland

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