Publication - Research and analysis

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

Published: 6 Nov 2019
Directorate:
Chief Economist Directorate
Part of:
Economy
ISBN:
9781839602955

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.

70 page PDF

1.5 MB

70 page PDF

1.5 MB

Contents
Fair Start Scotland evaluation report 2: overview of year one - November 2019
6. Employability Support

70 page PDF

1.5 MB

6. Employability Support

This chapter summarises the feedback from participants on their experience of employability support through FSS. It covers views on pre-employment support, in-work support and some further feedback from participants who left the service early.

As part of the phone survey, IFF asked participants whether they were offered both pre-employment and in-work support by their FSS provider; whether they took up that offer and if they did, how useful they found each type of support. These findings are presented first for those receiving pre-employment support, and secondly for those receiving in-work support.

6.1 Pre-employment support

As shown in Figure 3, most respondents took up the offer of one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact (86%), a dedicated key worker (86%), and help with job search activities (75%). A further two thirds (64%) took up the offer of the development of a personalised Employment Action Plan. Half of the participants (50%) were offered access to work tasters, work experience or apprenticeship opportunities but only a fifth (21%) overall took up this type of support. Given that such high proportions of participants are motivated to move into work, these intermediate steps could have been viewed as unnecessary by some participants.

The survey findings also showed that not all participants were offered all of the support that was potentially available to them. For example, 46% report not being offered access to work tasters or work experience opportunities, and a further fifth (21%) report not being offered the development of a personalised Employment Action Plan, despite these being key elements of the support available. It’s possible that some participants didn’t recognise the way these services were described (for the survey), or that a small number had not been with the service long enough to be offered this support.

Fewer participants were offered specialist support for a physical or mental health condition (39%) or help with an addiction (14%). Two percent of respondents took up the offer of help with an addiction (15% of those offered this type of support).

There was some variation in the uptake of support by age group, perhaps reflecting difference levels of previous work experience. Those aged 35-49 were more likely to decline the offer of a dedicated key worker (5% compared with 3% declining overall) and help with job search activities (15% compared with 11%) than the other age groups. Those aged 16-34 were more likely to take up access to work tasters (64%) than the other age groups (58%).

Figure 3: Offer, take-up and usefulness of pre-employment support for all respondents

Figure 3: Offer, take-up and usefulness of pre-employment support for all respondents

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

Those who were working at the time of interview were also more likely to report having been offered each of the following types of support than those who were not working:

  • A dedicated key worker or employability advisor (92% compared with 86%)
  • One to one appointments (93% compared with 88%)
  • Specialist support for a mental or physical health condition (45% compared with 37%)
  • Help with an addiction (20% compared with 12%) and
  • Help with job search activities and applications (89% compared with 83%)

This suggests that each of the above forms of support may have been particularly effective in helping respondents to move back into work.

Usefulness of pre-employment support

As also shown in Figure 3, survey respondents were generally positive about the usefulness of the support they received. Around four fifths of respondents who received each type of support felt that it was useful.

Generally, women and those in work were more likely to say that the support was useful. Women were more likely than men to say that the following were extremely useful: a dedicated key worker (71% vs 56%); the development of a personalised Employment Action Plan (59% vs 46%), one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact (73% vs 60%), specialist support for a mental or physical health condition (72% vs 57%). This difference may be due in some part to gender differences in social desirability response bias[13].

As might be expected, those who were working were more likely than those not working to say that various support types were useful: a dedicated key worker (87% vs 76%); the development of a personalised Employment Action Plan (84% vs 73%); one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact (87% vs 80%); help with job search activities (88% vs 77%), access to work tasters, work experience or apprenticeship opportunities (88% vs 72%).

Around two thirds (65%) of respondents who took up the offer of support met with their key worker about once a week, with a further fifth (20%) meeting about once every two weeks. Most of those who met with a key worker (85%) felt that the frequency of meetings was about right.

All respondents were asked what other type of support they would have wanted to help move closer to work. Almost three quarters of respondents felt that there was no other support needed (72%), however small proportions of participants mentioned areas for improvement such as the desire to receive support that was more personalised or tailored to the respondent (4%), more opportunities to attend training courses (3%), or greater consideration of their health issues (3%).

6.2 In-work support

FSS participants who have found work and are receiving in-work support are entitled to up to 12 months ongoing support from their provider. The aim of this is to help job retention and progression in terms of skills and/ or income. The in-work support provided must include the following elements[14]:

  • Weekly contact with a dedicated key worker, reducing over time;
  • An In-work Support Action Plan detailing a timeline for workplace reviews with the employer and setting out future objectives;
  • Support provided to the participant at their work induction;
  • Financial guidance to the individual if necessary;
  • Ensuring the participant is aware of changes to their benefit entitlement and that they are receiving all the possible in-work benefits;
  • Support at other stages of work such as during training if necessary;
  • Giving information about travel options to and from work considering the participants’ needs; and
  • An exit plan for leaving the FSS service.

Figure 4 shows that, amongst those eligible for in-work support, the most commonly taken up support was a dedicated key worker (47%), followed by one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact (36%). A further quarter took up support with a workplace induction (24%) and financial guidance (24%).

Again, those who were eligible for in-work support did not consistently report being offered it. Two thirds (67%) of those who were in work for at least 16 hours a week said they were offered in work support. Women were more likely than men to say that they had received in-work support (75% vs 62%).

Fewer respondents were supported to develop an “In Work Support Action Plan” (21%), or received monthly workplace reviews with their employer (17%). There were also some differences across Lots, perhaps reflecting the different service delivery models and participant characteristics.

Women were more likely than men to take up the offer of a key worker (90% of women offered this accepted it vs 74% of men), one-to-one appointments (79% vs 59%), work induction support (81% vs 57%) and financial guidance (75% vs 46%).

Figure 4: Types of in work support offered, taken up and found useful

Figure 4: Types of in work support offered, taken up and found useful

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

Although between two fifths and two thirds of those eligible were not offered each type of in work support, those who took up the support generally found it useful. Almost all (79% - 93%) respondents found each type of support they received useful.

6.3 Early leavers

As mentioned earlier in the report, around a quarter (28%) of those who engaged with FSS left before completing their pre-employment support or finding work. The participant phone survey also identified that 46 % of participants said they were no longer receiving a service from FSS at the time they were surveyed in June 2019.

As shown in Figure 5 below, participants who left most commonly reported that their support came to an end (22%) or that they had moved into work (21%). A further 17% left because their health deteriorated whilst 16% felt the service was not relevant to their needs.

A small number of participants left due to issues with the service: 4% reported feeling staff were rude or unsupportive; 4% felt that the service did not provide enough support, and 3% stated there was a lack of communication from the service providers.

Figure 5: Reasons for leaving the FSS Service

Figure 5: Reasons for leaving the FSS Service

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

Those who moved into work or training were more likely to be younger, as this reason was given by 37% of those aged 16 to 24, and 30% of those aged 16 to 34, compared to the average of 23% overall.

Older participants were more likely to say that they could no longer stay on the service (29% compared to 21% overall) and this was predominantly because their health deteriorated (27% gave this reason for leaving).

Local Area Case Studies

As FSS is a voluntary service, participants are free to leave before completing the 12-18 months of pre-employment support available to them, without incurring benefit sanctions. Six interviewees reported that they had left early, four of whom reported positive experiences of their time with Fair Start Scotland. They left due to reasons unrelated to the quality of support they received – for example, disabilities, caring responsibilities and childcare issues.

Two of these participants reported that they left because they moved on to disability benefits and are no longer looking for work. One explained that their disability benefits were re-approved following an appeal against an earlier failed assessment. This person described themselves as “long-term sick, not long-term unemployed”. Another described leaving Fair Start Scotland because they developed a medical condition as a result of surgery and now receive ESA payments.

What worked well?

The majority of participants are offered a wide range of pre-employment and in-work support experiences which most find useful.

Those in work recognise the benefits of key elements of the personalised FSS model, including: a dedicated adviser; one-to-one appointments; specialist support for mental health and addictions and job search skills.

What could be improved?

While the emphasis is on a personalised approach, it appears that some participants may not have been offered all the services available to them within the FSS model.

Some participants reported that their support could have been further personalised.

Most participants left as their support had ended or they’d moved into work, however there remains scope to improve on services for the 16% who felt that support was not relevant to their needs.

What are we doing?

SG are working closely with service providers and delivery partners to continually improve FSS services on the ground. FSS service provicers are regularly monitored to ensure that they are following key delivery indicators and providing appropriate support and training to participants.


Contact

Email: kirstie.corbett@gov.scot