Socio-economic background - Scottish Government

Data on employees’ socio-economic background is limited, as it only gathered as part of our recruitment system and the People Survey, neither of which link to employee records. We use the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) as our measure for socio-economic background below. The NS-SEC groups the occupation of the respondent’s main income-earning parent when the respondent was 14.

We use the three-class definition of the NS-SEC below. Those whose parents were in “professional or managerial occupations” are classified as “High”. Those whose parents were in “clerical, sales, service and intermediate technical occupations” are classified as “Intermediate”. Those whose parents were in “routine, semi-routine, low supervisory and technical occupations” are classified as ‘Routine’, and a final category is included for those whose parents “Never worked”.

The declaration rate for socio-economic background in our recruitment systems and in the People Survey are 97.9% and 81.6% respectively. The latter rate excludes all staff who could not be categorised for any reason (denoted “Undetermined” in the charts and tables below).

Workforce composition


The chart below shows the percentage breakdown of the socio-economic background of applications to work for the Scottish Government at each stage of the recruitment process. Applicants applying to multiple jobs are included for each application they make. The percentage breakdown of Scotland’s population aged 16 to 64 by socio-economic background is added as a comparison where available.

Figure 8a: Recruitment stage reached by socio-economic background in 2023

Bar chart of applicant headcounts by socio-economic background. The data in the chart is replicated in the table below.

The stages of the recruitment process are explained later in this report

Workforce culture

The data on workforce culture used in this publication comes from the Civil Service People Survey and covers core Scottish Government (SG Core) only. This data can be found on the SG Core page.