Health and Social care now the biggest employer in Scotland


A new Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) report shows that most people in Scotland are now employed by the NHS or local councils. Health and social care now accounts for 16% of jobs in Scotland, and is likely to continue to rise as the population ages. 

This marks a shift from traditional occupations. Ewan Gibbs, a historical political economy researcher at the University of the West of Scotland, said the 21st century workforce was largely unrecognisible compared with that of 50 or 60 years ago “There were over 250,000 Scots employed in coal mining, steelmaking, shipbuilding and related heavy engineering in 1958 and comparative figures now will be highly negligible,” he said. “Shipbuilding is largely a defence operation now. Steel is restricted to speciality and refinement with no basic production. Coal has essentially disappeared.” 

He continued: “A key point to make would be that process of erosion didn’t all happen in the 1980s. For instance, more coal jobs were actually lost in the 1960s – but at that point they were managed through industrial diversification policies that brought alternative forms of employment in assembly engineering activities.”

The changes in industry and agriculture are in line with other similar economies. The retail sector has also decreased, as more people shop online. 

Of those in employment, 4% were self employed, 32% part time employed and 64% in full time jobs. This shows a 1% increase in part time employment with 70,000 more people now working part time. 


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