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Equalities in Scotland’s growth economic sectors: final report


The purpose of the study was to examine equality issues in Scotland’s growth sectors since baseline research carried out in 2009, focusing on trends in the following protected characteristics: gender; age; disabilities; ethnic minorities; gender reassignment; marital and civil partnership status; maternity and pregnancy; religion and belief; and sexual orientation. Scotland’s growth sectors are identified as: creative industries; energy; financial and business services; food and drink; life sciences; tourism; universities; chemical sciences; construction; engineering; and ICT and digital technologies.


The methodology primarily consisted of analysis of a range of datasets, including the Annual Population Survey, (APS) to establish the representation of individuals with protected characteristic in each growth sector; the FAME database, to establish the representation of women, young people and older people among company directors; data from Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council on the supply of labour into the growth sectors from the protected characteristics, in terms of Modern Apprenticeship starts, college enrolments and university entrants; and key research published since 2010 on the representation of protected characteristics in the growth sectors and, where available, the factors that are driving this. Information was also collated from a small number of organisations that work with individuals with protected characteristics in order to supplement the desk-based research where there was no or limited data or literature available.


The report suggests that no overarching trends can be identified. The representation of individuals with some protected characteristics in the workforce is increasing, but it is declining for others. It also indicates mixed findings on a sector-by-sector basis, with sectors often making progress on the representation of some equalities groups within their workforce whilst experiencing a decline in others. The recession is highlighted as a key factor as, due to the issues faced by many protected characteristics in relation to the labour market, groups such as young people, disabled people and ethnic minorities have experienced disproportionate decreases in employment and increases in unemployment. The creative industries was found to be the sector that is most open to individuals with protected characteristics, while, with the exception of older workers, all groups were found to be underrepresented in the energy sector.


The report notes that, as the representation of individuals from equalities groups varies across growth sectors, there is a need to customise responses by sector. It is also suggested that in order that individuals from protected characteristics are able to access the good quality employment opportunities that the growth sectors offer, efforts must be made to tackle underrepresentation where it exists and that a key element of this must be to ensure better representation of individuals with protected characteristics on Modern Apprenticeships, and on college or university courses, that lead to careers in these sectors. The report argues that increasing the representation of protected characteristics within the sector is not sufficient, however, and efforts must also be deployed to tackling pay gaps, occupational segregation and the lack of progression into management and leadership roles.

Author Training and Employment Research Unit (TERU), University of Glasgow; Sutherland, Victoria et al
Published Year 2015
Report Type Research
  • Sectors
    Chemical sciences, Construction, Digital markets and enabling technologies, Energy, Food and drink, Financial and business services, Tourism
  • Equity
    Equal opportunities