First Minister to host Women’s Employment Summit this week

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  By a Newsnet reporter

First Minister Alex Salmond together with Minister for Youth Employment Angela Constance will host Scotland’s first ever Women’s Employment Summit, due to take place on Wednesday.

The event, to be held at the Our Dynamic Earth science centre in Edinburgh, has been jointly organised by the STUC and will be attended by 150 delegates, with more dialling in from Inverness and Dumfries.

Unemployment rates among women have been on the rise since the beginning of the current recession, but the rate of increase has increased sharply over the past two years. The Summit will focus on ways to overcome the barriers to increasing employment amongst women, with childcare, workforce challenges, employability and welfare reform on the meeting’s agenda.

First Minister Alex Salmond will give the opening address, while Minister for Youth Employment Angela Constance will attend all day. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is also set to be present.

Ms Constance said:

“This is a historic first and demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling the barriers that women face in maximising job opportunities.

“Helping more women into work is a top priority if Scotland’s economy is to grow faster, and we are doing all we can to achieve that, including our plans to deliver the best package of flexible early learning and childcare anywhere in the U.K.

“The need for increased childcare and the perception that some jobs ‘just aren’t for women’ are two key hurdles that we need to clear if we are to create a level playing field for all.  We want to hear about the real life experiences of women, both around the difficulties they’ve faced and the successes they’ve had.

“The summit will focus on identifying positive steps that public sector bodies, employers, trade unions, other partners and women themselves can take to ensure that women can make their full contribution to Scotland’s economic recovery.

“Women are central to Scotland’s growth so let’s make sure that nothing stands in their way.”

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary added:

“Extensive barriers continue to prevent women’s full participation in the labour market and these have often appeared resistant to policy interventions.  The gender pay gap persists despite decades of equal pay legislation.  Too many industrial sectors exclude half the workforce from skilled jobs whilst moaning about skill shortages.   Apprenticeships continue to embed occupational segregation.

“Therefore the STUC is tremendously enthusiastic about the potential for change triggered by the Women’s Employment Summit, our important joint initiative with the Scottish Government.

“The STUC looks forward to participating in the summit and then pursuing the key actions identified with the Scottish Government and other partners to make the Scottish labour market a more welcoming place for women.”