SCOTSTAT Labour Market Statistics Technical Group
Minutes of the first meeting held on the 22nd January 2004 at Meridian Court, Glasgow
Stephen Boyle, Future Skills Scotland, Scottish Enterprise (Chair)
Professor Mike Danson, University of Paisley
Stephen Sprott, SLIMS
Stephen Morley, Ayrshire Council
Mhairi Begg, Cogentsi
Alex Morton, South Lanarkshire Council
Professor David Bell, University of Stirling
Elaine Drennan, Scottish Executive
Gayle Johnston, Scottish Executive (Minutes)
Ken MacDonald, Clackmannanshire Council
Welcome and Introductions
1. Stephen Boyle welcomed everyone to the first meeting of this group. He said he
hoped that the group would be productive and achieve it’s objectives and he invited Elaine
Drennan to say a few words.
2. Elaine summarised that previously the consultation needs of the labour market group
had been met to some extent through the Scottish Economic Statistics Consulting Group.
However there was a recognition that this was not detailed enough in order to address all of
the issues which related to the labour market. Subsequently a SCOTSTAT consultation
meeting involving both labour market and lifelong learning strands of work had been held in
June 2003. However in order to obtain more detailed feedback in relation to labour market
issues solely the Labour Market Statistics Technical Group has been initiated with the
objective of obtaining better labour market statistics for Scotland.
Comments on terms of reference
3. Alex Morton asked for clarification as to whether this group would operate as a sub-
group of the SCOTSTAT Economic Statistics Group or whether it would be a SCOTSTAT
group separate from it. Elaine Drennan responded that it was envisaged that this would be a
separate group in it’s own right and would respond directly to the SCOTSTAT board
4. Alex Morton also asked if the group would also include skills and training statistics.
It was clarified that the group would.
5. Stephen Boyle suggested that an annual event of some kind may be valuable, however
further consideration would be required in order to decide how to achieve greatest value from
this. He also had some concern that the membership of the group was primarily based on the
West of Scotland. David Bell suggested a representative from the Macaulay Institute
(Aberdeen) may be interested in attending this group.
6. Stephen Sprott asked if there was any intention to invite people from a business
perspective. There is currently one representative on the group from a private company.
Mike Danson stated that it was his experience that member of the private sector had not
shown a great interest in membership of similar groups. He suggested that Careers Scotland
should be represented however.
7. Stephen Boyle also highlighted that the terms of reference proposed mainly a reactive
role and he said it would be a good to have a more proactive role for the group. Elaine
Drennan agreed that this was good idea.
8. Mhairi Begg asked if there was any intention in the future for speakers from ONS to
attend the group. Elaine Drennan agreed that this was a possibility.
Action 1 Scottish Executive and Futureskills Scotland to extend membership to
widen representation of Scotland
Future of Nomis and neighbourhood statistics (SCOTLMG 04(1))
9. Elaine Drennan summarised this paper, it highlighted the main concerns regarding the
provision of labour market information via the neighbourhood statistics web site. It was
highlighted that there is also a consultation document placed on the ONS website. There was
concern regarding this from various members of the group.
10. Alex Morton commented that he is involved in trying to encourage funding of Nomis
till 2006. He stated that there is a lack of understanding at the strategic level of use of Nomis
11. Elaine Drennan added that DWP are in liaison with Nomis in order to have benefits
data accessible via Nomis and that the annual cost of funding Nomis is £700,000 per year.
12. Alex Morton highlighted that other government departments for example Department
for Trade and Industry also have concerns about this development.
Action 2 A note to be sent from the group to Office for National Statistics
expressing concerns of Scottish users of Nomis.
New Earnings Survey (SCOTLMG 04(3))
13. Elaine Drennan summarised the main points of this paper. In summary there is a new
methodology to be implemented this year for this survey and the questionnaire has been re-
designed. The questionnaire contains additional questions on pensions and hours worked.
14 The Scottish Executive has concerns regarding the loss of information at local
authority and parliamentary constituency level due to sampling restrictions. Scottish
Executive have a need for earnings information for public and private sector in Scotland. The
staffing watch survey had been identified as a possible source of information. This
information is released quarterly, however is 2 years out of date when it is published.
There is a strategic meeting to be held with ONS and the Scottish Executive which will
address all aspects of labour market data provision in Scotland . It is proposed that this will
take place every 6 months in order to ensure the needs of the Scottish Executive in terms of
labour market statistics are being met as far as is possible.
15. David Bell stated that it would not be possible for academics to have copy of New
Earnings Survey panel datasets after 2001. This was a result of new data protection
restrictions. 8 or 9 sites in the UK have access to original data from 1975-2001. Currently
Stirling University produce estimates for private and public sector earnings. Stirling
University is asked by Local Authorities in England for information obtained from the panel
data sets which they use for area cost adjustment calculations.
Action 3 Elaine Drennan to raise access to data by non-government departments at
Labour Force Survey (SCOTLMG 04(3))
16. Gayle Johnston summarised the above paper. This commented on the expected
timetable of revisions to Labour Force Survey data as a result of the release of the 2001
census. It also commented on the Labour Force Survey boost and the ONS plan to integrate
the Labour Force Survey with the Inter-Departmental Business Register.
17. Stephen Sprott suggested that if the Labour Force Survey is receiving this substantial
boost at local authority level then this could be used to obtain more robust earnings
information. Elaine Drennan stated that to some extent this is correct, however the Labour
Force Survey gives earnings information which is self-report whereas the New Earnings
Survey is an employers survey and therefore should be more reliable.
18. David Bell asked if the revised data would be sent to the data archive and if it would
be for individual and household data sets. Gayle Johnston and Elaine Drennan answered that
they expect the information would be available from the data archive for household and
individual data sets soon after it’s initial release, although this service is provided by Essex
Small Area Estimation Project (SCOTLMG 04(4))
19. Elaine Drennan summarised the contents of the above paper for information. Meeting
attendees were directed to the web site link available on the paper for further information or
invited to contact us for further information.
Claimant Count unemployment rate at local authority and ward level (SCOTLMG
20. Elaine Drennan summarised this paper which addressed the changes in geographical
boundaries for the publication of unemployment rates and also the calculation used to
estimate claimant count unemployment rate.
21. It was commented that a move to claimant count based on CAS 2001 wards would
provide more relevant information for local authorities given that current estimates are based
on 1991 census wards. There was some reservation expressed about the use of information
for very small geographic boundaries. Further feedback was sought on the use of datazones
or CAS wards.
22. The second part of the paper discussed claimant count rate. The Scottish Executive
currently calculates residence based claimant count unemployment rates which is currently
number of benefits claimants expressed as a proportion of economically active working age
residents in an area. ONS has recently changed it’s method of calculating a claimant count
rate and basis this on number of claimants divided by the working age population in a
geographic area. The group was invited to comment on whether they would find it more
useful to have Scottish Executive to calculate claimant count unemployment rate consistently
with ONS or whether they would find it useful to retain the residence based claimant count
23. Steven Sprott stated that he considered both of these measure have a value
Changes to New deal Statistics (SCOTLMG 04(5))
24. The above paper was provided for information.
Annual Business Inquiry employment data
25. Mhairi Begg provided a paper relating to this and asked for this item to be placed on
the agenda. This highlighted how information at local enterprise council geographic level
shows a large amount of inconsistency between years.
26. Elaine Drennan agreed that she had been aware of this fluctuation in annual business
inquiry figures between year. She said it may be possible that the Scottish Executive Labour
Market branch gets involved in the quality assurance of ABI1 data. She explained that the
ABI1 information relates to employee jobs information, whereas ABI2 is concerned with
27. Alex Morton highlighted that in his opinion it would be difficult to quality assure this
data due to the methods used to collect the information. Approximately 3 or 4 local authority
councils are involved in checking these returns at 3 digit industry level.
Action 4 Elaine Drennan to explore whether there is potential for the Scottish
Executive to become involved in quality assuring ABI data or influencing the processes
carried out by Office for National Statistics to improve the quality of this information.
Labour market data internet dissemination (SCOTLMG 04(6))
28. Gayle Johnston summarised this paper which outlined what information relating to
the labour market in Scotland is now easily accessible on the Scottish Executive internet site.
It also outlined intention to publish more time series information on the internet.
29. Stephen Boyle stated that he thought there would be scope for making Labour Market
information on the internet more easily accessible. One method of enabling this would be to
have better links between related internet sites.
Action 5 Elaine Drennan and Stephen Boyle to discuss possible routes of
improving accessibility of information.
Approval of Labour Market Work Program (SCOTLMG 04(7))
30. Elaine Drennan summarised this paper. It was suggested by Stephen Boyle that is
would be useful for future meetings that there was acknowledgement of possible alternative
work options which could potentially be included in the work plan and to have some
discussion on agreeing these as apposed to seeing an almost finalised document.
31. David Bell suggested it would be useful to know what resource is used within the
Labour Market Statistics Branch by commitments to Executive Business and what scope
there is for other Labour Market analyses or small projects to be carried out within the
Action 6 Gayle Johnston to submit work programme to SCOTSTAT board
Any other business
32. Mike Danson mentioned that Careers Scotland have a management information
system developed to measure performance against targets. This will link into systems of
SQA and enterprise networks. It is intended that this information will be publicly available.
33. David Bell added that Stirling university has started analysed of the www.S1jobs.com
internet site information. This should enable analyses of characteristics of people accessing
the internet site and provide a more detailed analyses of vacancies and job matching. Elaine
Drennan suggested that the Fresh Talent Initiative within the Scottish Executive would be
interested in the results of this profile.
Date of next meeting
34. The next meeting will be in about 6 months time and will be held prior to the next
SCOTSTAT board meeting.
Action 7 Gayle Johnston to arrange the next meeting.
Labour Market Statistics, 02 March 2004