Access to employment – Welsh Government assessment
There have been legal or policy changes to improve human rights protections and evidence of some sustained progress in the enjoyment of human rights related to this issue. However on some of these rights, or for some groups, there has not been comparative progress
Employment is mainly a reserved issue, which limits the action that the Welsh Government can take. The employment rate in Wales has increased in recent years. Although the employment rate fell in 2020 because of the conronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it has since returned to pre-pandemic levels. Progress has been made on delivering apprenticeships and certain commitments under the ‘Prosperity for All’ strategy. However, unequal access to employment and apprenticeships persists across protected characteristic groups, and Welsh Government policies do not specify how such inequalities will be addressed.
- The employment rate for people aged 16 to 64 in Wales in February to April 2021 was 73.9% – an increase of 2.5% since 2016 – but the overall employment rate remains lower in Wales than in the UK as a whole. Evidence shows that the employment rate dipped in 2020 but has since returned to pre-pandemic levels.
- Between 2016 and 2020, the male employment rate increased from 74.4% to 75%. For females, it rose from 68.1% to 70.7%. The gap between male and female employment rates was 4.3% in 2020, narrowing from 6.3% in 2016.
- The employment rate for disabled people was 47.8% in 2020, compared with 80.2% for non-disabled people. In 2016 the respective figures were 44% and 78.6%. The disability employment gap has therefore narrowed slightly in the period 2016–2020, from 34.6% to 32.4%.
- Access to employment for young people in Wales has increased in recent years, with the unemployment rate among those aged 16–24 falling from 12.7% in 2016 to 10.9% in 2020. But the unemployment rate for young people aged 16–24 remains significantly higher than the unemployment rate for the population aged 16 and over (3.7% in 2020). A Parliamentary committee has raised concerns that youth unemployment may not be visible in official data.
- Availability of childcare remains a barrier to employment in Wales. In 2021, an evaluation of the Welsh Government offer to fund childcare for some parents recommended further research into how much it incentivises or enables unemployed parents to access employment.
- In December 2020, the Welsh Government announced that it had reached its target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships during 2016–2021. Of those starting apprenticeships, 60% were female, while 57% were 25 years old or over. However, there is a lack of targets to improve the diversity of apprenticeships – gender segregation remains, and ethnic minority people and disabled people continue to be under-represented.
- The Welsh Government has made progress on commitments to improve employability under its ‘Prosperity for All’ strategy, including launching a new employability advice service for Wales. However, its employability plan and economic action plan do not say how inequalities will be addressed.
- As at June 2021, the Welsh Government’s employability advice service, Working Wales, had supported 54,351 people into work since its launch in 2019.
- As part of the Welsh Government’s Covid Commitment, Community Employability Programmes supported 9,000 people. As at September 2020, almost £300 million from the Economic Resilience Fund was used to safeguard over 100,000 jobs.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on access to employment.