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Scotland's bosses are being urged to help their staff appreciate the importance of filling in their Census form on Sunday 29 April. Particularly, employers are being asked to ensure staff have proper information about where they work and what they do. The request comes from John Randall, Registrar General for Scotland who is charge of the successful running of Scotland's Census, in a leaflet soon to be mailed out to employers.
"No fewer than 16 questions in the Census form relate to people's jobs," said Mr Randall. "In order to answer the questions correctly staff need information such as the full address of where they work and, very importantly, the post code."
Apart from place of work, Census questions cover the full title of peoples' jobs, a description of their job and the business of the organisation where they are employed.
"These questions are important so that we can show how far people are travelling, the changing pattern of employment and the type of qualifications people have," said Mr Randall. "The data produced from the Census is used by those who plan our futures in Scotland on where to best target resources. This information is vital in showing where future investment might be required, for example, in travelling infrastructure. It will show how jobs are changing and the likely further education and training needs which require to be provided - and so on."
However, said Mr Randall, many people did not necessarily know the postcode of their employer or, in some cases, the overall business of the organisation for whom they worked.
"I'm also asking employers to consider putting articles in their staff magazines or on the intranet, or to send round emails," added Mr Randall. "I want to plug into whatever methods are used inside firms to inform staff."
Census Day would be the climax of one of the biggest peacetime exercises ever conducted in this country, Mr Randall said, and will gather essential information about everyone who is usually resident in Britain. "Census data provide the benchmark by which social and economic change is measured, making them a vital resource not only for government but also for employers across the private and public sectors," he added.
The first Census was held in 1801 and was little more than a head count. Then local schoolmasters tramped round their parishes and the results were sent to the Home Office in London. A Census has been held every 10 years since then - except in 1941. The Registrar General for Scotland took over responsibility for the Census - and the resulting data - with the 1861 Census. The 2001 Census will be the first of the new millennium and the first since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament.