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by Lee Ann Panglea
17 March 2021
Associate Feature: Fairer Workplaces for a Fairer Scotland

Associate Feature: Fairer Workplaces for a Fairer Scotland

The upcoming Scottish election will be like no other election before it. Political parties will need to respond to COVID-19, while outlining a longerterm vision for a post-pandemic Scotland. To support them in this task, CIPD Scotland released our 2021 Scottish election manifesto – Fairer workplaces for a fairer Scotland. 

And we do have a strong case for being listened to. After all, it was the people profession that was at the heart of the immediate COVID-19 response – navigating unprecedented changes to working patterns, coming to grips with ever-changing regulations and support schemes and supporting employees and their wellbeing through some of the most difficult times they have ever faced. As focus cautiously shifts to our recovery, people professionals’ experience and expertise should be a valuable resource. 

Our manifesto, written by Senior Public Policy Adviser, Marek Zemanik, is based on an extensive programme of engagement with our members in Scotland – surveys, policy roundtables, and individual consultations. Our 21 recommendations are limited to areas of devolved competence and are laid out across four areas of public policy: the future of work, skills, wellbeing and inclusion. 

No matter what the trajectory of our recovery looks like, job quality has to be at the centre of the debate. Much has improved over the last few years. We need to ensure that the next few years are not a step back.

Our first series of recommendations are therefore around ensuring that fair work continues to be at the top of the next government’s agenda, improving employer and employee understanding of what fair work means and what benefits it can bring. 

With CIPD members driving workplace skills development across many businesses, skills policy is one of our key areas of interest. While the pandemic changed the context within which policy-makers and people professionals have to operate, it has not changed some of the fundamental trends that our economies need to prepare for.

In our manifesto we talk about re-evaluating three kinds of balance – between the funding of academic and vocational education, between youth and adult skills development and between longer, structured courses and smaller bite-sized buildable qualifications. 

We make several recommendations in this area, including moving towards demand-led apprenticeship funding and additional routes to qualifications for adult learners. We also call for more upskilling routes, primarily through an enhanced Individual Learning Account (ILA) system as well as more support for reskilling by boosting the National Transition Training Fund and making it a permanent feature of skills policy in Scotland. 

One of the key recommendations we make is for ILA funding to be increased, with a buildable entitlement over several years. This would allow longer-term skills development planning for learners, but also include a use-it-or-lose-it element. Beyond adult skills development, we think the scheme has the flexibility to be targeted at areas of economic need, but also learner need where particular barriers to skills development exist. 

The pandemic has only exacerbated the pressures on wellbeing, with financial security, physical health and mental health deteriorating for employees. The importance of interventions around wellbeing has never been greater, with mental health in particular standing out.

Our manifesto calls for stable funding for workplace health and wellbeing training, in addition to more guidance and signposting for SMEs in particular.

We also want to see a Scottish Thriving at Work Leadership Council, which would bring government, employers and mental health charities together to drive change across Scottish workplaces. 

The pandemic has had an impact on everybody, but we know that it did not have an impact on everybody equally.

While there is much more for employers to do on inclusion, the Scottish Government can take specific steps that eliminate barriers to work.

We believe there are three areas (disability, age, caring responsibilities) where meaningful changes can be made in Scotland, not at the expense of others, but in order to unlock the same opportunities regardless of individual circumstances.

Changes to employability, careers advice as well as childcare policy and Carer’s Allowance are all in our manifesto. 

The pandemic remains the biggest challenge most of us have faced. But with every challenge comes opportunity for change. Our manifesto lays out where we think that opportunity should be seized. 

This article was sponsored by the CIPD


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