Fair Start Scotland evaluation report 1: implementation and early delivery review

This Fair Start Scotland (FSS) evaluation report covers evaluation findings and data analysis relating to the implementation and early delivery of FSS employment support services in the first 6 months of delivery.

5. Awareness and motivation

This chapter of the report focuses on how participants became aware of FSS services in their area and what motivated them to take part. 

The evidence presented here was gathered through a series of focus groups with FSS participants in each of the nine FSS Lots across Scotland. See Appendix 4 for further information on the focus groups methodology.

The service design is based on research evidence and public consultation that has identified what works to encourage participation from, and provide effective support for, those who are further away from the labour market. The FSS service offer reflects these core components:

  • Participation is voluntary – there is no element of mandation to participate or threat of DWP benefit sanctions as a result of non-participation; 
  • Support is person-centred and individually tailored to meet each participant’s needs;
  • The service provides a coherent range of specialist support that responds flexibly and effectively to meet the needs of individual participants and their employers; 
  • The service provides a minimum of 3 hour face-to-face contact with dedicated adviser per week; 
  • The service is focused on supporting participants into sustainable employment as its key outcome and measure of success.

The final bullet point above refers to sustainable employment and places FSS services in the wider context of the SG focus on Fair Work[16], which recognises the importance to both individuals and the Scottish economy of good quality, secure employment that pays the living wage and has scope for progression and further skills development.

5.1 Awareness 

For some participants, there was a difficulty separating FSS the “service” and their specific Service Provider, with some participants not having heard of
‘Fair Start Scotland’ until they were told about the focus groups. Others were already familiar with their FSS Service Provider, having had recurring contact with them for other support services before starting on FSS

To be honest I didn’t even know it was called that, that’s a new term to me to be honest.
- Hamilton participant

Few participants had seen the SG FSS marketing campaign[17], although a handful of participants across different areas mentioned hearing the local radio adverts. All participants were positive about the idea of advertising the service, with some offering further possible suggestions, such as using social media and television. 

For some with literacy issues, and others more generally, there was the idea that hearing directly from those who are or have recently participated in the service would be useful, whether this was through short video clips, or by people being there in person at physical locations. Participants also suggested that initial information on FSS should emphasise the wide range of support available through the service, and that it does not focus only on job outcomes. 

It’s hard for me to read and write, I struggle, so I would be better seeing a video, do you know what I mean? and seeing a video is a lot more…it’s easier to understand I think than reading something.
- Kilmarnock participant

This area for example is very different to [other local area] and so forth and if there were case study examples, paragraphs, quotes, whatever you like from people from the area built into the introduction then I think that might give a fair bit of encouragement.
- H&I participant 

There was some discussion around the fact that information, usually in the form of leaflets, about FSS was not freely available within JCP, which participants felt could have been useful in promoting the service to potential participants.

I think that basically see the leaflets that the Job Centre’s got behind their desk sitting on a pile in the corner or something, I think they should have them in the Job Centre as you come in the main door where all the other pamphlets and information are, and that way people who look at that can take one and have a look at it.
- Glasgow participant 

Although many participants felt that there should be wider awareness around the service, they also thought there should be a range of different approaches to this, not just relying on a passive method of advertising, but linking in with other services. 

I think it would be fairly fatal to rely on putting posters up all over the place…I think there are a number of different organisations who should be willing to pass information along on behalf of the service, for example Tenant Housing Projects and things like that which are very active.
- H&I participant 

Some participants suggested that other services and organisations, such as Citizens’ Advice, social work, and mental health services, should be more aware of the service. In one area in particular participants felt that Service Providers could engage with a wider range of employers, as it was felt that often opportunities were limited to large companies, with opportunities with smaller businesses and organisations not available.

5.2 Motivations

Participants within the focus groups tended to fall into one of two categories in terms of their motivation to take up the offer of support. Firstly, there were those who had been out of work - many for the first time - for a relatively short period of time, and were looking for support to re-enter the job market. Secondly, there were those who had more complex barriers to participation in the labour market, and for whom gaining employment was almost a secondary outcome, after seeking support and access to services to address a range of different barriers. 

Participants most commonly mentioned mental health barriers. Many participants described issues with anxiety, depression and low self-confidence, conditions which had been exacerbated, both by time away from the job market, but also by the perceived lack of support they had received up until the point of joining FSS. Some participants had started the service with a specific idea of the support they required, such as updated IT skills, or help with CVs after long periods away from the labour market, as opposed to others who had volunteered for the service with no real expectations, but more of a ‘give it a go’ attitude.

I was kind of swept into it so I said “well it’s getting me out of the house, I’ll go and see what it’s all about” and it’s good support, which was what I was looking for, because before that it was basically self-help, I couldn’t get a referral or anything. 
- Aberdeen participant

I wanted to see what they could offer…it’s more or less about getting back into work. I’ve not been in work since February so I was kind of struggling and they suggested Fair Start to me so I thought I’d give it a go.
- Inverness participant

Many participants described the job market as difficult. This was especially apparent in more rural areas, where participants felt that there was often a mismatch between the jobs they wanted, the jobs available and the jobs that they could easily access. Participants commonly highlighted issues with distance and transport, and older participants reported that they often felt they were overlooked due to employers’ preferences for younger employees. 

There’s plenty of Kitchen Porter jobs here, I can get in but I can’t get home again and they know that.
- Inverness participant

I’ve just turned 62, I’m retiring in 4 years and nobody wants a 60 year old, they want younger people.
- Inverness participant

For some participants the motivation was that FSS could provide not just a route into employment, but into sustained, fulfilling employment. 

I just don’t want a job, I want a career. I want a job that I’m going to be good at and get better at with maybe the scope for progression. 
- Inverness participant

Some participants were motivated to explore a capabilities-style approach to employability, where the individual’s strength and potential was the initial focus of the support. Typically this would focus on the type of employment that would most suit the individual, the pace and content of the journey towards employment, but could also focus on their capabilities as determined by their physical or mental health. 

I just wanted to find out what my capabilities were, what I could do and what I couldn’t do. Fair Start sent me to an occupational therapist and I got an examination and that and I got a full report back.
- Falkirk participant

What I’m kind of looking for is something that bridges the gap between an area where I’m basically not well enough to work full-time…and also to help bridge that gap with employers
- H&I participant 

Participants also reflected on the personalised nature of the service being a motivation for them, with the opportunity to discuss and work on the underlying causes behind some of their barriers into employment in a supported setting. 

I was looking for someone to discuss it with and work out what are the problems, was it here? was it my work ethic that caused these problems? you know, so Fair Start’s been more sort of nurturing I suppose as opposed to working it out by yourself and thinking “I can’t deal with this”.
- Aberdeen participant 

What worked well?

  • Participants with a wide range of motivations were attracted to the service
  • FSS was seen by participants as a way to attain lasting and meaningful employment
  • The personalised nature of the service and wide range of support offered were appealing to participants 

What could be improved?

  • There was some confusion from participants about FSS as a service and the FSS Service Provider
  • It was felt that information on the service could be more widely available and available via different communication methods

What are we doing?

  • SG has already started to make use of participant suggestions for marketing and promotion activity. We have drafted service user “stories” that describe the lived experiences of our FSS participants and are also making more direct use of cases studies from Service Providers. We will publish these in our reports and use them to bring a direct service user voice to our promotional materials.
  • Following evaluation of the first phase of the marketing campaign, we have taken a different approach to the second phase – using more creative radio advertising and extending to community radio stations, advertising on phone kiosks and social media advertising. 
  • We are also revising our marketing materials to include more quotes from current FSS participants and adding to our suite of marketing materials which includes JCP leaflets, postcards, business cards and developing a generic leaflet for stakeholders and potential participants. This responds to the suggestion that promotion of the service should be less passive and we are working with stakeholders to ensure that they understand the service and eligibility criteria to support informed discussion with potential participants.
  • We are continuing to work with FSS Service Providers to source case studies and will use these for promotional activity and on the Employability in Scotland website. We are also making more creative use of the evaluation feedback to create participant ‘stories’ that can be used for a range of different purposes, including marketing materials.
  • To extend our reach beyond the website as our main communication channel, we have established an FSS phone line with an 0800 number which members of the public can contact to find out a bit more about FSS and be put in touch with their local Service Provider.


Email: Kirstie.Corbett@gov.scot

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