Below are real-life examples of how organisations have found Census data invaluable in economic research and the planning of local services which support and promote employment amongst Scotland's communities.
Beacon Dodsworth have been using 2011 Census data to look at the impact of the 2008 recession and its effect on areas throughout Scotland, as well as creating their P2 People & Places geodemographic classification.
South Ayrshire Council
Helping the ‘invisible’
In order to provide training programmes and other support to help 16 to 19 year olds into education, employment or training, South Ayrshire Council used census data to better understand a group that it had very little other information about.
The numbers of young people who were economically active, such as those registered for Job Seekers Allowance or New Deal, were available, but those who were not registered – a group which is represented mainly by young females – were invisible.
The responses to the 2001 Census questions on sex, age, address and educational qualifications helped the council to estimate how many ‘invisible’ young people there were, and additionally, estimate their level of schooling and identify the communities that they lived in.
Chris Doyle, Corporate Research and Intelligence Officer South Ayrshire Council, said:
“Using the census information, we could identify which areas held the highest concentration of young people who were not registered by the Job Centres. From there, we could plan ways to target literacy and other informal training programmes to deliver support, and ultimately, help individuals into training, education or work.”
Travel to work analysis
The travel to work census questions provide Highland Council with statistics that support its business planning.
Being able to understand the size and age, health and mobility of communities of varying sizes within the region allows the council to provide a variety of services and functions to meet local needs. This includes defining housing market areas and assessing housing need and demand for the Planning and Development Service and Housing and Property Services.
For example, Highland Council is keen to support people living in Caithness as the nearby Dounreay nuclear plant - central to the Caithness economy for the past 50 years - is decommissioned. It is estimated that Dounreay supports around 2,500 direct and indirect jobs in the local area.
The decommissioning process will see the initial loss of 25 per cent of these jobs within five years and two-thirds within 20 years.
Cath King, Policy Manager with The Highland Council, said:
“The Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership has developed a strategy which aims to take action to mitigate this impact. Using the travel to work element of the 2001 Census to examine current employment at Dounreay has contributed to the planning information for this strategy.”
Demographics User Group (DUG)
Census statistics supporting business planning
An organisation which represents large businesses that make use of population statistics says that the economy could be in much worse shape than it is today if it wasn’t for the information provided by the census. In recent years, commercial companies have been a key customer of census statistics.
The Demographics User Group says the census’s ability to provide reliable and detailed information on the size of local populations, and to classify it in various ways - typically by age and measures of affluence - allows companies to target specific markets and tailor their services and products to make sure they are well used.
Demographics User Group members such as Barclays, Boots, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Whitbread use the population data provided by the census to help plan for everything from where best to open a new outlet, and what products to sell, right through to defining the target groups or areas for their marketing campaigns.
Keith Dugmore, Director of the Demographics User Group said: “Having information to help answer vital questions such as ‘where are the best places for new shops and services?’ or ‘which branches should re-locate or close?’ and ‘where should we advertise?’ is invaluable to commercial companies.
“Census data underpins many decisions involving investments of billions of pounds every year. Making the right decisions is critical to business success and to the economy at large. A new start-up company might sink or swim depending on whether its first outlet is in the best location, so the penalties of making bad decisions are severe.
“The 2011 Census statistics will provide new figures to support and inform future business strategies that will affect us all, either directly as customers or indirectly through our national economy.”