Fair Start Scotland evaluation report 2: overview of year one - November 2019

Second report in a series on the evaluation of Fair Start Scotland employability services. It covers the first full year of service delivery (Mar 18 - Apr 19) and summarises findings from a participant phone survey, local area case studies and analysis of management information.

4. Awareness and Motivation

This chapter of the report focuses on how participants became aware of FSS and what motivated them to take part. The final section covers feedback from a separate group of individuals who are eligible for FSS support but are not currently participating.

The evidence presented here is a summary of findings from both the commissioned research activities.

4.1 Awareness

Our phone survey research suggests that most year 1 participants (70%) were referred to FSS through their local Jobcentre. This is broadly in line with FSS management information and is similar to the experiences of the individual participants interviewed in Alloa, Irvine and Wick as part of the local area case studies.

The phone survey findings suggested some differences in awareness, based on previous work experience, age and location:

  • Those not who had not worked in the last 5 years were more likely (78%) to have learned about FSS from a Jobcentre Plus Work Coach, than those who had worked in the last 5 years (65%).
  • Younger participants (those aged 16-24) were more likely to have heard about the service from friends or family members (13%), or other people receiving the support (11%) than other age groups (4%).
  • Those from Tayside were less likely to hear about FSS from a Jobcentre Plus advisor (32%) than those in other areas (70%), and more likely than other groups to have heard about FSS through word of mouth (friends or family 16%; or other people receiving support, 16%).

4.2 Motivation

Phone Survey respondents were also asked why they decided to engage with the service (Figure 1), and if they were aware that it was voluntary. As Figure 1 shows, almost all (94%) respondents were aware that the service was voluntary. Those aged 50 or over were slightly more likely to think that the Fair Start Scotland service was mandatory (7%) than those in other age groups (4%).

Figure 1: Participant motivations to engage with FSS support

Figure 1: Participant motivations to engage with FSS support

Source: FSS Participant Phone Survey Year 1 (IFF Research).

The most common reason mentioned by participants for engaging with the service was that they thought that the support could help them get back to work (45%). A further two-fifths liked the idea of receiving additional help and support (40%). Men were more likely than women to state this particular reason as a motivation for engaging (49% compared with 37%). Those aged 16-34 were more likely to say they liked the idea of receiving additional support than the other age groups (46% compared with 34% of 35 – 49 year olds and 37% of those aged 50 and over).

With regards to location, those in Tayside were more likely than those in other areas to say that they engaged because they really wanted a job (36% compared with 23% overall) or that they liked the idea of receiving help and support that was tailored to their individual needs (24% compared with 14%).

Local Area Case Studies

In keeping with the telephone survey findings, interviewed participants most commonly reported that they engaged with FSS because they wanted help in finding and/or applying for jobs. A small number had had positive experiences of being supported by the current providers in the past, including one who had previously been helped to find a job, and decided to take part in the hope that Fair Start Scotland would be similarly helpful.

Some participants sought support help to build or regain their confidence and sense of motivation. For some this lack of confidence was work related, and for others it wasa about broader self-confidence. One participant said they “wanted [FSS] to help me get out of my shell a bit”.

A small number of participants engaged with the service because it gave them something to do, or to satisfy Jobcentre Plus.

4.3 Reasons for not participating in FSS

The published statistics[9] for the first year of delivery show that just over a quarter (28%) of participants left the service before completing their pre-employment support or finding work. Similarly, analysis suggests that FSS is not reaching all of those eligible for support. It is important therefore that the reasons why people might choose not to engage with FSS are clearly understood, and that all those who are eligible are aware of the support on offer to them.

Rocket Science undertook a small number (n = 12) of interviews with individuals in Alloa, Wick and Irvine who shared eligiblity characteristics with the FSS participant group, but were not participating on the service. The research identified two main reasons why individuals were not currently engaging with FSS:

  • They were not aware of the FSS service offer in their area
  • They were already taking part in other employability support

Two interviewees reported that, while they were made aware of FSS through leaflets provided by Jobcentre, they decided not to engage as they were already being supported by the local Jobcentre. These interviewees said that there was no particular reason for choosing this alternative support over FSS.

This feedback suggests that for these individuals at least, there’s nothing about the FSS service offer that is putting them off participating. As the “voluntary offer” is central to the Scottish Government approach to employability, we will continue to investigate and report on participants’ reasons for participating and not participating in FSS services throughout the evaluation. It is important to recognise that there is a range of local support available, some of which will be long established through Jobcentre Plus and local authorities, and which are likely to have an impact on individual’s choices.

What worked well?

As expected, most participants (70%) are referred to FSS by Jobcentre Plus staff. However, across Scotland we are now seeing growing numbers of referrals from third parties, including other local partners and through direct contact from participants themselves.

What could be improved?

There remains scope to improve awareness of FSS across all lots and across many of the groups eligible for support.

Also, there are opportunities to align and integrate the FSS service with existing local support provision, working with local authorities and the third sector to create a more joined up employability offering as outlined in the ‘No One Left Behind’ review of employability services.

What are we doing?

We will continue to use our evidence and analysis of management information, working with Providers, JCP and other local partners to develop more responsive promotional approaches and materials for Fair Start Scotland.


Email: kirstie.corbett@gov.scot

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