In the 2011 Census, 96% of the population in Scotland
described their ethnicity as 'white' (this includes people from
Polish and Gypsy / Traveller communities) whilst 4% described their
ethnicity as 'non white' (this includes people from Asian, African,
Caribbean and mixed backgrounds). The proportion of the non white
population in Scotland has increased by two percentage points since
the 2001 census. Cultural minority groups such as Polish and
Gypsies / Travellers may also be classified as ethnic minorities
when looking at employability issues, although they are part of the
above white population figures.
Whilst there are variations within the group, ethnic minorities
overall have lower employment and higher inactivity rates than the
general population. Annual Population Survey data for Scotland
shows that in 2012:
The employment rate for ethnic minorities was 60% compared to
71% amongst the white population.
The economic inactivity rate for ethnic minorities was 33%,
compared to 23% amongst the white population.
Ethnic minority groups can face a number of barriers to
Lower levels of education and skills (among certain ethnic
minority groups only).
Less proficiency in English.
Little awareness of available support services and in some
cases perceptions that services will not understand their
Discrimination from employers.
Residence in deprived areas, which can lead to further
difficulties gaining employment (70% of ethnic minorities live in
the most deprived local authority districts in Scotland, compared
with 40% of the general population).
Cultural issues - for example, there may be family pressure
not to register as unemployed.
In addition to the barriers above, ethnic minority women
can be particularly disadvantaged due to cultural pressures and
expectations. Annual Population Survey data for Scotland shows that
The ethnic minority female employment rate was 47%, compared
with 68% among white females.
The ethnic minority female economic inactivity rate was 47%,
compared to 27% for working age white females.
These figures hide variations across different ethnic
minority groups. For example:
Pakistani/Bangladeshi female employment rate is
Black African/Caribbean female employment rate is
Indian female employment rate is 57%.
Policies and Interventions
The Scottish Government is committed to promoting equality
of opportunity and social justice for all of Scotland's residents.
The government is keen to tackle discrimination and prejudice and
challenge the systems, behaviours and attitudes that cause or
sustain these. It runs the One Scotland: No Place for Racism
campaign, aimed at tackling racism. The campaign is intended to
raise awareness of racist attitudes, highlight its negative impact
and recognise the valuable contributions that other cultures have
made to our society and ultimately end racism in
The Scottish Government recognises the importance of
increasing employment rates for specific groups who are
disadvantaged in the labour market, including people from ethnic
minority backgrounds. Working for Growth, the refreshed
Employability Framework published in 2012, recognises this and sets
out its expectation that where appropriate, local employability
partnerships will develop specific interventions to support
unemployed people from an ethnic minority background. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/09/5609/0
With low proficiency in English language being a barrier to
employment for some ethnic minorities, the Adult ESOL Strategy for
Scotland was launched in 2007. Following this, national
resources such as the
ESOL Curriculum Framework
were developed, encouraging providers and practitioners of ESOL to
consider people's motivations for learning the English language,
including employability. Employability currently remains a key
focus in the learning and teaching of ESOL in Scotland.
The Equality Act
The Equality Act (2010) is the main
piece of legislation that addresses discrimination and inequality
in the UK. It brought together nine separate pieces of legislation
into one. The majority of the provisions came into force on 1
October 2010. The following are the characteristics which are
protected under the Equality Act (2010):
Marriage and civil partnership
Pregnancy and maternity
Religion or belief
The law prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination
relating to any of these characteristics and individuals who feel
they have been discriminated against on any of the above grounds
can bring an action in court against the perpetrator. The law also
prohibits victimisation of persons who have brought action against
a perpetrator or given evidence in connection with proceedings
under the Act.
The Act prohibits discrimination across a broad range of areas
including employment, the provision of goods and services to the
public and the exercise of public functions. In addition a Public
Sector Equality Duty came into force in April 2011. It assigned
public bodies (and others discharging public functions, such as
third sector organisations) the following duties:
Eliminating unlawful discrimination.
Advancing equality of opportunity.
Fostering good relations.
Specific duties within the Act require fit-for-purpose
equality monitoring to be undertaken, at both national and local
levels. As a result, a number of listed public authorities in
Scotland are now required to publish a set of equality outcomes and
to report on progress every two years. The specific duties also
require the listed public authorities to undertake Equality Impact
Assessment of new or revised policies and practices and to consider
relevant evidence when making their assessments.
- Heath, A., and Cheung, S.Y. (2006)
Ethnic Penalties in the Labour
Market: Employers and Discrimination.
- Longhi, S. and Platt, L. (2008)
Pay Gaps Across Equalities Areas.
Equality and Human Rights Commission.
- National Audit Office (2008)
Increasing Employment Rates for
- Netto, G., Sosenko, F., and Bramley, G. (2011)
Poverty and Ethnicity in
- Scottish Government (2013). Scottish Government Equality Outcomes:
Ethnicity Evidence Review.