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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Unlock the door: Scotland's unpaid carers struggle to enter the labour market


Four in 10 are ‘not at all confident’ about their future employability

A charity is calling for Scotland to unlock the door of opportunities for the country’s unpaid carers.

A new report published by Carers Scotland has highlighted the barriers faced by people who care for a loved one and who are looking to enter the labour market.

It shows that four in 10 unpaid carers are ‘not at all confident’ about their future employability.

The study, which included a survey of 320 unpaid carers and focus groups with unpaid carers and representatives from the employability sector, found that 69% of unpaid carers wanted to be employed as it meant that they could lead a life beyond caring, with over half (55%) wanting to increase their earnings beyond just covering bills.

However, one third of carers (32%) in the survey stated that ‘carer discrimination’ was a specific challenge to entering and remaining in employment.

Many carers (62%) also described the number of hours they needed to provide care for as a barrier to employment, 59% worried about employers not understanding their caring role and its demands while 49% had worries about the lack of flexible working options available to them.

Unpaid carers also described failing support from social care as a barrier to entering the labour market with 42% of unpaid carers describing not having access to social care or replacement care.

The report includes a number of recommendations and Carers Scotland is calling for the Scottish Government to commission a new employability action plan focused on unpaid carers to deliver those recommendations.

It is also calling for unpaid carers to be considered a priority by local employability partnerships across Scotland leading to more specific support for carers that reflect their needs.

Richard Meade, director of Carers Scotland said:“Many unpaid carers want to be employed alongside the caring role, but often do not get the support they need. We need to see more comprehensive employability support for those unpaid carers that want to be employed to help them return to the labour market and to stay in a job once they have one.

“Being employed not only supports the unpaid carer financially, but crucially offers a life outside of caring and a chance to pursue careers they have invested education, training and passion in. It’s time we unlocked the door of opportunity for Scotland’s unpaid carers.”

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, which funded the research, added: “Across Scotland, too many people who care for others are exposed to financial hardship and poverty due to their caring not being properly valued, rewarded and supported.

“Unpaid carers often feel let down at every turn; they’re forced to rely on inadequate levels of social security while facing multiple barriers to accessing paid employment. It’s time for both employers and all levels of government to step up, scale up and speed up the support offered to unpaid carers to ensure that no one faces the injustice of poverty as a consequence of caring.” 

The research was authored by the University of Strathclyde. Read the report here.



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