A new scheme will help retrain women who have taken career breaks and get them back into work, Minister for Employability Jamie Hepburn has announced on the same day as the publication of statistics which show the gender pay gap in Scotland is closing.
The ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings published today revealed the gender pay gap decreased from 7.7% in 2015 to 6.2% in 2016 with Scotland leading the way in comparison to the UK as a whole which decreased 0.2 percentage points to 9.4 in 2016.
In the first stage of this work to support women returners, the Scottish Government has awarded nearly £50,000 to Equate Scotland. Their Women Returners Project will provide 40 women with support to re-enter the labour market by offering one to one guidance, career clinics and access to webinars and three month placements. The training will focus on placements in life sciences, digital skills and engineering.
Announcing the details on a visit to SSE in Glasgow, which is taking part in the Returners project, Mr Hepburn said: “These latest figures show we are making some progress to narrow the gender pay gap in Scotland, and in comparison to the UK we are leading the way in gender and pay equality in the workplace.
“We are also committed to taking action to remove the barriers that women can face when it comes to finding work, advancing their career and increasing their earning potential.
“This funding for the Women Returners Project will encourage women to reenter employment and encourage them to regain the confidence and skills they may have lost during career breaks when they have had time away from the workplace.
“While Scotland continues to outperform the UK as a whole on female employment and is making inroads on tackling the gender pay gap, there is still more to do. With our funding for the Women Returners Project, improving the availability of childcare and flexible working, and promoting the Living Wage, we hope to close the gender gap once and for all.”
Louise Rasmussen from Glasgow, was struggling to find a job with part-time hours in her subject area of Knowledge Management after being out of work for a number of years. Thanks to support through the Women Returners Project she has now secured a six month placement at SSE.
Louise said: “Having been out of paid employment for a number of years – looking after my daughter and completing a PhD – I felt I needed to regain confidence, develop existing and new skills, and increase my professional network.
“There are a number of advantages to participating in a returnship programme. You receive a wide range of support which is tailored to women returning to work, you meet other women also looking to return to work after a long absence, have the opportunity for paid work in a relevant STEM industry and develop existing skills and learn new ones.”
Rosie Macrae, SSE HR programmes and reporting manager, said: “We’ve been delighted to work with Equate Scotland to support women returning to careers in STEM. A successful business is a diverse one and we’re working to encourage more women to consider a career in energy.
“This has been a fantastic opportunity to tap into talent and skills of women looking to gain more recent experience in the industry and support them at the same time as helping SSE recruit the workforce it needs for the future.”
Talat Yaqoob, Director of Equate Scotland said: “Equate Scotland worked with a range of employers in our pilot project to support qualified women back into the STEM industries, including SSE. It was heartening to see the enthusiasm from the employers and they clearly understood both the social and business case to increase the number of women in STEM.
“We are delighted that the Scottish Government is investing in our original pilot and we know this will make a difference to women and Scotland’s economy. We look forward to working with the Minister and STEM industries in Scotland over the next year”