Labour Market

Population levels are critical to the labour market as they affect both the supply of the labour and the demand for local products and services. The estimated population of the Outer Hebrides on Census Day in 2011 was 27,684; comprising approximately 13,668 males and 14,016 females. In the decade between 2001 and 2011 the population increased by 4.5%; this is in comparison to a 5% increase over Scotland as a whole. However, the mid 2017 estimates show a decrease of of 2.6% since 2011, leaving the estimated population at 26,950. For more information please go to the Population pages.

In 2017 it was estimated that 58% of the population in the Outer Hebrides was of working age. In comparison: Scotland was 64%; Shetland 62%; and Orkney 60%.
For the purposes of Census information, working age is categorised as all people aged 16 to 74. On this basis, at the 2011 Census, there were 20,234 people in the Outer Hebrides of working age, 73.1% of the total population. In Scotland, 75% of the total population were of working age.

Details on the current labour market can be found in the following pages on Employment and Unemployment.

Economic / Employment Structure

Results from the 2011 Census show that in the Outer Hebrides a higher percentage of the workforce are self-employed, 10% in comparison to 7% for Scotland. There were also more people employed part time, 15% in comparison to 13% in Scotland. The majority of males are employed in the ‘skilled trades occupations’, while the majority of females are employed in the ‘Caring, leisure and other service occupations’. For more information please go to the Economy pages.

Skills and Qualifications

The 2011 Census shows that the percentage of residents in the Outer Hebrides holding higher-level qualifications (HND, degree, professional qualification) remains at 26% as in 2001, the same as in Scotland overall. 30% have no educational qualifications, greater than the 27% across Scotland.