The SNP Government does everything within its current powers to help women enter and progress in the labour market. Although not exclusively a woman’s issue, we are increasing childcare to improve outcomes for children, and support more women back into work. All three and four year olds, and the most disadvantaged two year olds are now entitled to 600 hour of early learning and childcare.
Over the current Scottish Parliament term, parents will be able to take their available hours of childcare to better suit their working patterns. And we will double the available hours per week from 16 to 30 helping parents get back to work.
Women continue to form the majority of college students and in 2015-16, the further education support budget is at a record high with over £105 million invested in college bursaries, childcare and discretionary funds.
We are also helping experienced women to return to their previous careers after a break by piloting a Women Returners scheme - a successful initiative from the USA which allows women to update their skills and knowledge and employers to retain skilled staff. We are funding a £50,000 projected, run by Equate Scotland, to help at least 40 women re-enter the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sector. A further six projects will receive a share of £185,000 aimed at supporting women into work following career breaks.
The SNP Scottish Government will also continue our actions to tackle the under-representation of women in leadership roles, and will legislate to have 50:50 gender equality in public sector boardrooms by 2020. At Westminster we’ll call on the UK government to do likewise.
We will also encourage organisations in the private and third sectors to commit to workforce diversity, sign up to the Business Pledge and join the Partnership for Change campaign to set a voluntary commitment for gender balance in their boardrooms of 50:50 by 2020.