Scots pay gap falls between men and women

Jamie Hepburn welcomed the progress in gender pay differences

Jamie Hepburn welcomed the progress in gender pay differences

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The pay gap has between men and women in Scotland is shrinking, new figures show.

But campaigners have hit out at the "glacial" pace of change and called for more urgent action to address the issue.

The gender pay gap fell from 7.7% of average weekly earnings in 2015 in Scotland to 6.2% in 2016. Scotland is now leading the way UK wide after a reduction there from 9.6% to 9.4%.

Employability Minister Jamie 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."

But Anna Ritchie Allan of national women's pay campaign body Close the Gap said too many women still still find them in low paid, part-time work following the recession.

"The glacial pace of change on the pay gap demonstrates that much more needs to be done to realise equality for women at work," she said.

"Initiatives aimed at increasing the number of women on boards and in senior positions are laudable, but of little relevance to the most working women. We need substantive action to lift women on the bottom rung of ladder out of poverty.

"There is a clear economic case for addressing the pay gap. A lack of quality part-time work means women are simply in the wrong jobs for their skill and qualification level. This economic inefficiency is a drag on growth as employers are failing to harness women's skills and talents, and that's worth £17bn to Scotland's economy."

The ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings also shows Scotland has the third highest median gross weekly full-time earnings for females at £482.60, after London (£609.50) and the South East (£497.80).

And Scots are the highest earners across the UK outside of London and the South-east, according to the Office for national statistics (ONS).

After inflation, gross median weekly earnings for full-time employees in Scotland increased by 1.2% over the year, from £528.60 in 2015 to £535 in 2016.

Mr Hepburn also today announced a new scheme to help retrain women who have taken career breaks and get them back into work.

The Scottish Government has given almost £50,000 to Equate Scotland for its Women Returners Project, which will provide 40 women with support to re-enter the labour market.

The training will focus on placements in life sciences, digital skills and engineering.

"This funding for the Women Returners Project will encourage women to re-enter 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," the minister added.

"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."

Talat Yaqoob, director of Equate Scotland, said: "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 science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries in Scotland over the next year."

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