Angela Constance MSP

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Angela Constance MSP

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  • Member for: Almond Valley
  • Region: Lothian
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Angela is a member of the following Committees:

Angela is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by The Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment (Angela Constance)

Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment (Angela Constance)

The latest labour market statistics demonstrate that we are making significant progress on reducing unemployment rates and increasing the number of those entering employment in Scotland. The labour market statistics for May to July 2014 show that the total employment level in Scotland rose by 87,000 in a one-year period, to over 2.6 million, which is the highest level since records began in 1992. The female employment level is also at its highest, at over 1.2 million. Our on-going commitment across Government is to sustain economic growth, and that is delivering results for the people of Scotland.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
Angela Constance

Indeed. There was certainly much discussion during the referendum about job-creating powers, although not everybody could actually name the job-creating powers. There is undoubtedly a mandate for substantial and comprehensive change. We need transformational job-creating powers. I hope that all of us in the Parliament can unite as champions for change.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment (Angela Constance)

Scotland offers the most competitive business tax regime in the United Kingdom and the Scottish Government is delivering a range of initiatives to create jobs and attract inward investment. For example, the £842 million investment in the new Glasgow Southern hospital is supporting a peak of 1,500 jobs on site, while the recent Glasgow and Clyde valley city deal, which the Scottish Government is supporting with £500 million over 20 years, aims to deliver 29,000 new jobs in the wider city region.

Business gateway and Scottish Enterprise support to start-up and expanding businesses encourages job creation. That includes regional selective assistance awards which, in West Scotland, totalled £29.6 million in 2013-14. Those awards are anticipated to create or safeguard over 4,000 jobs.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
Angela Constance

I refer Ms McDougall to the BBC reports of the Heriot-Watt University report.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
Angela Constance

I am pleased to be able to confirm that the number of modern apprenticeship starts in Mr Gibson’s constituency has increased over the year. There is other substantial investment in North Ayrshire, particularly through the youth employment Scotland fund, whereby the Ayrshire councils work collaboratively and put forward the most ambitious bid. They are taking that forward very successfully.

The annual population survey, which was published just this week, confirms the good news for Mr Gibson’s constituency. For example, over the year, the employment level in North Ayrshire has risen by 5 percentage points, which is an increase of 4,700 jobs. There is a similar trend with young people, with 1,000 more young people in work in North Ayrshire.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
Angela Constance

Mr Scott is right to highlight the importance of Prestwick airport and this Government’s commitment to securing the airport and its role in creating job-creating powers. I am sure that the Deputy First Minister will keep Mr Scott in the loop about progress, as she has done to date.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
Angela Constance

I refer Mr Henry to the BBC. I am sure that he is a keen watcher of the BBC. [Interruption.]



Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014 : Thursday, September 25, 2014
Angela Constance

But the important point now that we are on this side of the referendum is that I hope Mr Henry and I will now be on the same side advocating substantial and comprehensive job-creating powers for this Parliament. I extend to Mr Henry the hand of friendship for us to be partners for progress when it comes to creating more jobs in Scotland. I hope that Mr Henry and his colleagues, when it comes to the economy of Scotland, start talking up the talents of this nation as opposed to running it down, and that goes for our oil industry as well.



Meeting of the Parliament 24 September 2014 : Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment (Angela Constance)

I am very grateful to Claudia Beamish for her practical motion and the consensual debate that has ensued. She is quite right to highlight the tremendously important work of skills partnerships in the south of Scotland and across the country, along with the crucial role of our colleges and employers.

This Government has long been committed to developing a skills system aligned to employer and local labour market demand. Even prior to the report of the commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce, we believed that it is critical to Scotland’s economic growth that we provide employers with a workforce with the right skills and expertise to enable them to compete in what is becoming an increasingly international market. That is reflected in the Government’s economic strategy and the post-16 reforms.

I believe that that commitment has put Scotland in a good place. Findings from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills show that employers in Scotland are doing more to develop the skills of their staff than employers in the rest of the UK—65 per cent of employees are receiving training. In addition, the majority of employers find education leavers to be well prepared for work, and 78 per cent of employers are satisfied with the work-readiness of college leavers. However, that does not mean that we can sit back. We must ensure that employers continue to have access to a highly skilled workforce and, importantly, that our young people have the chance to start and progress in the exciting careers that can and should be available.

I was pleased that Claudia Beamish mentioned the good work that Skills Development Scotland is doing through the development of the sectoral skills investment plans. She is right that that is being done in partnership with industry and wider partners. We are seeking to better understand what skills and expertise employers need now and in the future so that we can align our provision accordingly.

A number of those plans have already been published for sectors such as the energy and digital technologies sectors, and further reports for other sectors are due later in the year. The key benefit of those plans is that they are developed collaboratively between employers and the public sector, as are the actions that are agreed to meet the skills demands.

Building on that success, SDS has also been working with the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, local authorities and others to develop regional skills assessments to help to improve understanding of the skills and labour market demands that exist in the regions. I believe that that is particularly important for the Highlands and Islands and rural Scotland. Those skills assessments will provide valuable information and insight to help college regions and wider employability providers understand what employers in their regions need.

As the motion highlights, a number of highly successful skills partnerships are already operating across Scotland, including the highly successful energy skills partnership, which a number of members have mentioned. Those partnerships provide a great vehicle for employers to engage with learning and training providers to allow them to inform and influence provision to better meet their needs. That can only benefit employers and, crucially, the employment prospects of young men and women across Scotland. However, as has been said, we must ensure that the skills investment plans connect with all the various partnerships and, in particular, with the young workforce agenda. We must try collaboratively to corral the extensive work that is being done in the various sectors. Ms Beamish also referred to the important connections with the low-carbon economy and the on-going aim of tackling climate change, to which all parliamentarians are signed up.

I am grateful for the opportunity to reiterate the importance of the ambitions that are outlined in the report of the commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce. As I said to Parliament earlier this year, I believe that its conclusions are inarguable, and I judge it to be imperative that we transform the employment prospects of young people in Scotland. That is why we are working jointly with local government and others—including, crucially, employers—on that agenda, and implementation plans will be brought back to Parliament later in the autumn.

I acknowledge that, as Claudia Beamish outlined, in implementing the recommendations of the young workforce commission, we are building on an array of exciting and innovative partnerships across the country. Claudia Beamish and Margaret McCulloch spoke about the good work that is being done in Lanarkshire and about the importance of such partnerships to sustaining the rural economy. Ms Beamish, in particular, mentioned the importance of flexible outreach courses, particularly the MOOCs. I give her an undertaking that I or Mr Russell will write to her to give her a good overview of provision in that area and the plans to make improvements in it.

The Scottish funding council has been looking at this area for a number of years now, and it has established some important learning networks.

As for the disappointment that Mike MacKenzie expressed and the critique that he made, I draw his attention to the good work that has been done by Energy Skills Scotland and the Scottish Government with regard to the massive, £0.5 million investment in the wind and marine training network. We have also made good progress with wind turbine operations and maintenance modern apprenticeships. Energy Skills Scotland has been successful in ensuring 1,000 transitional training places in the energy sector, which is particularly important for some of the groups that Ms Beamish mentioned in her speech.

I should say to Alex Fergusson that I remember that great visit to Dumfries and Galloway College, which is doing great work with significant employers in the energy sector. Indeed, I was quite overwhelmed when I saw the young people climbing on the overhead lines to carry out crucial maintenance work. It is a great example of collaboration.

We need to keep a close eye on and scrutinise what works, because we will always learn from what works as well as what does not work quite as effectively. However, the important thing about skills partnerships is that they are, indeed, partnerships and that they are done collaboratively. We have talked in detail about the energy skills partnership, and I have no doubt that its success will be replicated in other sectors across Scotland. However, as I am sure Mr Fergusson will accept, we have to work collaboratively with employers. It is not a simple matter of Government telling employers what to do.

Finally, I pay tribute to the good work that is being done with colleges the length and breadth of Scotland. They are outward looking, are embracing change and are working very closely with employers to improve the employment prospects of people of all ages.



Meeting of the Parliament 20 August 2014 : Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The Cabinet Secretary for Training, Youth and Women’s Employment (Angela Constance) This Government’s ambition—to secure sustainable economic growth—has been consistent, and the current strength of our economy and labour market reflects the strength of our commitment to that ambition. Women are key to the strength and resilience of Scotland’s economy and they have made a huge contribution to the recovery that we are seeing.

Women work in every sector of Scottish industry, but too often they do so on an unequal basis and, as reports from respected organisations such as the Fawcett Society show, they are not feeling the same financial benefits of the recovery. I and this Government are determined that women play the fullest possible role at all levels of our economy and, as they do so, I want to ensure that their valuable contribution is adequately rewarded.

Well-rewarded and sustained employment can be the best route out of poverty and the best way to tackle inequality. On Monday, I published “Unlocking Scotland’s Full Potential: boosting skills, wages, equality and growth”—a clear statement on the great value that we place on sharing our economic growth equally. Through equality of opportunity, we can create at all levels and in all areas of our economy a more diverse workforce that maximises our skills, improves the productivity of our businesses and grows our economy at an even faster rate.

We can deliver those ambitions because Scotland has great strengths and strong foundations from which to achieve progress. There are 1.25 million women employed in Scotland, which is the highest number since comparable records began, and the female inactivity rate is lower in Scotland than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. More young women than men stay on at school and are in higher and further education, and Scotland has the highest percentage in the UK of females with national vocational qualifications of at least level 3.

It is unacceptable that those strengths do not combine to create higher earnings for women in Scotland. Our gender pay gap remains unacceptably high at 7.6 per cent, and women earn 17 per cent less than men when we take hourly median earnings for full and part-time work together. Women’s average earnings are lower, with men typically earning £90 a week more than women in full-time work.

The reasons for that are many, but, in short, too many women continue to face occupational segregation, greater job insecurity, higher levels of underemployment and pay inequality. That is not the type of labour market that can deliver the more equitable shares of economic growth, prosperity and opportunity that I believe Scotland must have.

The strategic group on women and work, which I chair, has, while engaging widely across the public and private sectors, played an important role in supporting our efforts to address those challenges, and our focus will be helped in the autumn when the Council of Economic Advisors publishes its report on maximising the economic potential of women in Scotland.

However, the reality is that this Government, with limited access to macroeconomic tools and legislative powers, is constrained in its ability to fully address the challenges. Instead of being able to share the benefits of growth, maximise our talents and unlock our potential, we have a position in Scotland today in which too many households struggle to meet their bills as wages are eroded and the cost of living increases. Around half of working-age adults and more than half of children in poverty live in working households and, despite the UK Government’s stated commitment to support families, women are disproportionately affected by its welfare reforms through changes to child benefit, working tax credit and lone parent benefit conditionality, and that disparity will continue as universal credit is introduced. I believe that those inequalities create an inarguable case for Scotland becoming an independent country. Only independence can address those issues and create a Scotland that provides the opportunities to meet women’s ambitions.

Too many women work in low-paid jobs, so the minimum wage impacts disproportionately on them. We understand and know the difficulties that that can create, and I believe that women deserve better. Therefore, with independence, the minimum wage will rise at least in line with inflation every year. If that had happened over the past five years, the lowest paid would have been £600 a year better off. With responsibility for equalities legislation, we would address the scandalous inequalities in pay that persist despite the current system and 44 years of equal pay legislation.

Independence will allow us to protect women from the worst effects of welfare reform. We will develop a welfare system that is fair, personal and simple and that provides women with the same incentives to work as men. Current plans for universal credit mean that a higher level of partners’ incomes will be taken into account as income when calculating the award. In “Scotland’s Future—Your Guide to an Independent Scotland” we have committed to equalising the earnings disregard between first and second earners—who are more often women—under universal credit. It is estimated that doing so would benefit as many as 70,000 people by as much as £1,200 a year. Of course, the Government is committed to scrapping universal credit under independence.

I want women to contribute fully to the success of Scotland’s businesses and its public and third sectors and to the continued strengthening of the Scottish economy, and I want that contribution to benefit women and their families equally. A lack of affordable, flexible childcare can be a significant barrier to many women accessing opportunities in employment, education or training. We are therefore investing more than £0.25 billion in the next two years to expand the provision for three and four-year-olds and we will also extend that support to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged two-year-olds.

The commission for developing Scotland’s young workforce rightly sets out an ambitious agenda to improve access to employment for young people. Together with local government, we are working to implement the report’s recommendations. We have already made £4.5 million of funding available, which includes support that will tackle gender segregation in training and employment programmes. In the autumn, I will set out more detailed plans for how we will work with schools, colleges, training providers and employers to ensure that existing stereotypes are challenged and barriers are removed.

Improving participation is one half of the challenge that we face in maximising Scotland’s productivity; as important is creating an environment in which all of those in work, including women, can thrive and prosper more equitably than they have been able to do so far. Last week, I welcomed the recommendations of the “Working Together Review” of progressive workplace policies. The review suggests how we can, through a partnership approach, address labour market challenges and build on existing good practice in our industrial relations. We will work with businesses and trade unions in framing our joint response to that review. Together with the commission on developing Scotland’s young workforce, that will provide Scotland with the opportunity to bring the right skills into the right jobs and to transform people’s lives and our workplaces through more equal access to work and fairer treatment in work.

I will update the Parliament on progress in two important areas. The “Working Together Review” recognised the value of a fair work commission, as envisaged in “Scotland’s Future”, as a means to support sustainable employment that pays fairly. Forty-four years on from the introduction of the Equal Pay Act 1970, it is clear that the current constitutional arrangements are not delivering for women in Scotland. I want early action so, with independence, the fair work commission will as its first priority begin to work collaboratively with unions, businesses and others to progress a review of the costs and benefits of mandatory equal pay audits.

We want women to be better represented at the highest levels of public authorities. On 30 April 2014, we launched the consultation “Women on Board—Quality through Diversity” to determine how a minimum quota of 40 per cent female representation could be introduced. The consultation closed on 4 July, and we received a range of views on how to address the gender imbalance on our boards, which has helped to focus our thinking on how best to address the barriers that women face.

Our commitment in that area makes it clear that this is not an issue on which we are prepared to wait any longer. Yesterday, Shona Robison wrote to the United Kingdom Government to request the transfer of legal competence in the equality field to the Scottish Parliament. We have made it clear that we believe that those powers should rest in Scotland as quickly as possible and in advance of full independence.

We will establish a short-life working group to develop a plan for the implementation of quotas, harnessing political support together with expertise around the appointments process to deliver truly gender-diverse boards with the highest calibre of men and women.

On 18 September, we have the opportunity to create an independent Scotland: a Scotland that is unconstrained in its ambition; a Scotland that will maximise opportunities for everyone in the economy, including women; and a Scotland that fully unlocks our potential.

The plans that I have outlined demonstrate that following a vote for independence we will use those powers to deliver a fairer and more equal society.

I move,

That the Parliament welcomes the growth in women’s employment to its highest ever level of 1,250,000 and the significant reduction in female economic inactivity; believes that Scotland must have even higher ambitions to further increase the opportunities for women to enter the workforce; further believes that the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce and the Working Together Review present important contributions to increasing opportunities for women; recognises however that significant powers to improve opportunities are currently reserved, and agrees that, with independence, these powers will give Scotland the opportunity to remove barriers to women’s ambitions and increase female economic activity, employment and living standards.

15:21
Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11116 Johann Lamont: Scotland’s Future—That the Parliament recognises the result of the independ
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Not VotedCarried

Amendment 61 moved by Elaine Murray on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland) Bi
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NoDefeated

Amendment 62 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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NoDefeated

Amendment 63 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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NoDefeated

Amendment 64 moved by Margaret Mitchell on motion S4M-11101 Kenny MacAskill: Courts Reform (Scotland
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NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Angela Constance
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-10829: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10214: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 03/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09744: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, Date Lodged: 16/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09575: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09376: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08462: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07939: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06492: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/05/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05319: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/01/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05109: Angela Constance, Almond Valley, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/12/2012 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S3W-37111: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 26/10/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3O-11446: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 23/09/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-34741: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/06/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-34740: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/06/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-34459: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-34461: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-34460: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/06/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3O-10609: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/05/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-32037: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/03/2010 Show Full Question >>
Question S3W-32036: Angela Constance, Livingston, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/03/2010 Show Full Question >>

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