Scottish Government to lead in target setting

Written by: Louise Coupland, Employability Development Officer, the ALLIANCE

Published: 07/05/2019

Illustration of 9 people sitting around a table in birdseye view, with the caption 'Change' in the middle

Scottish Government to introduce a disability target for workers within Scottish Government and its core agencies.

The disability employability gap has persisted stubbornly for decades, highlighting the scale of the challenge at hand for the Scottish Government if it is to meet its target of halving the employment gap by 2038.

Last year we welcomed ALLIANCE members to our consultation event held in partnership with the Poverty Alliance and the Scottish Union of Supported Employment (SUSE), designed to feed into the consultation on Increasing the Employment of Disabled People in the Public Sector. The Scottish Government has specified that this feedback to this consultation has reinforced its view that we will not achieve the required change unless the Scottish Government, and more broadly the public sector in Scotland, demonstrates leadership and establishes itself as an employer of choice for disabled people.

In April, the Scottish Government’s response to the consultation (this link will take you away from this page) was published in which Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills announced that the Scottish Government will set targets for its own workers in the first instance. Furthermore, during 2019 the Scottish Government will undertake a review of the Equality Act, with the review shaping its own efforts to improve data collection, and to support progress in delivering equality and a fairer Scotland.

Several themes emerged from the consultation (which are listed in page five of the document) around improvements to increase the number of disabled workers and improve their experience of employment in the public sector. Many of these were voiced in the ALLIANCE’s contribution including:

  • improving recruitment and application processes to better support disabled people to apply and go through interview processes
  • improving cultures and increasing awareness of disabilities, including delivering training around this so all workers have a better knowledge
  • reassuring disabled candidates applying for jobs that a fair and transparent recruitment process will be undertaken.

From following discussions with the Scottish Government, the decision to set targets within its own work force was not an easy one and the concept has been explored with input from disabled people‘s organisations, disabled people and key partners. Despite our attendees disagreeing with the notion of setting targets, there is still scope in the ‘A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People – Employment Action Plan’ to take forward many of our suggestions in improving approaches to recruitment, disability awareness, flexibility in working structures and employee support. Altering Human Resource practices would enable a huge culture change.

The drive and commitment to this area of work seems to be bold. I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment and applaud their enthusiasm to lead this process from the front. Catalysing change in employers within Scotland’s workforce is no small task and I strive to work with colleagues to ensure that specialist support, the voice of lived experience and the expertise of our membership and sector is valued and utilised.

Senior Civil Service has already been set a target of thirteen per cent disabled new entrants by 2025 and I eagerly away the publication of the Disability Recruitment and Retention Plan to communicate the disability target for workers within the Scottish Government and its core agencies.

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