Fair Start Scotland evaluation report 2: participant phone survey - November 2019
Part of a series on the evaluation of Fair Start Scotland employability services. It presents more detailed findings from a representative telephone survey of FSS participants and explores their experiences in the first year of service delivery (Apr 18 to Mar 19).
4. Experiences of support
In this chapter we look at the different types of support made available to participants of the Fair Start Scotland Service. For each type of support, we asked participants whether they were offered the support by their support provider, whether they took up the 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. The final part of this chapter examines participants' overall views of the support service and why those who had left the service at the time of the interview, decided to do so.
4.1 Pre-employment support
All respondents were asked what types of pre-employment support they were offered during the Fair Start Scotland service, as well as whether or not they took up these types of support.
All providers delivering employment support for the FSS service are required to provide participants who are not in full time work, with a minimum level of support, including specific elements detailed in the FSS Operational Guidance. These elements can be summarised as:
- One to one support from a dedicated key worker who understands the participant's disability where they have one, and their barriers to employment;
- The development of a Participant Employment Action Plan, to be delivered in the first eight weeks. This is a person-centred plan which details how the support will be delivered and gives information on the participants' skills, attributes, aspirations and needs;
- The provision of specialist support, that meets the participant's specific needs;
- Presentations by employers giving advice about working in and applying for jobs in different sectors;
- The teaching of intensive job search skills, job application support, and skills development;
- Help with personal development addressing the participant's self-esteem, confidence and perceived barriers to work;
- Support with a mentor;
- Vocational or employability skills training appropriate to the participant's aspirations;
- Work experience or placement opportunities and volunteer opportunities; and
- Self-employment support for those interested.
Providers can also make further specialist services available for those participants who require more intensive support. These include elements such as specialist support for specific physical or mental health conditions; for those recovering from substance misuse and support addressing barriers arising from convictions.
As can be seen from figure 4.1, respondents did not consistently report being offered all of the support types detailed in the operational guidance. 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 compulsory elements of the support.
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.
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. 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%).
There were also differences in support offer and take up by Lot. Those in Tayside (Lot 3) were less likely than the other lots to be offered the development of a personalised Employment Action Plan (60%) and one-to-one appointments (81%). Those in Forth Valley (Lot 4) were more likely to be offered one-to-one appointments (97%) and access to work tasters, work experience and apprenticeship opportunities (66%) than the other lots.
Those in the South West (Lot 6) were more likely to be offered one-to-one appointments (97%), but were less likely to take up the offer of a key worker (91%). Participants in Glasgow (Lot 1) were less likely to be offered access to work tasters, work experience or apprenticeship opportunities (40%).
Figure 4.1 Offer, take-up and usefulness of pre-employment support for all respondents
Source: D5d: Were you offered the following support to help you remain move into work as part of the Fair Start Scotland service? D5e: Did you take up this support? Base: All respondents (1005). D6: On a scale of 1 extremely useful to 5 not at all useful, how useful would you say that each of the types of support your received were to you? Base: All who used the support type: one to one appointments (684), key worker (864), help with job search activities (755), Employment Action Plan (647), work tasters etc. (286), specialist support (231), addiction help (21)
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.
Figure 4.2 Offer, take-up and usefulness of pre-employment support: in work and not in work
Source: D5d: Were you offered the following support to help you remain move into work as part of the Fair Start Scotland service? D5e: Did you take up this support? Base: All working (286), All not working (673)
4.2 Usefulness of pre-employment support
As shown in figure 4.1, 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%).
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%).
Those from the North East (Lot 7) were more likely to say that they did not find having a dedicated key worker useful (21%) than the other lots (9%). Furthermore, those in this region were less likely to say that help provided with job search activities was useful (63% compared with 80% on average).
Figure 4.3 Frequency of meetings with key worker/advisor
Source: D7f: How often did you meet with your Adviser/ Key Worker? D8: Would you say that the frequency of your meetings was…? Base: All who met with a key worker (864)
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. Those in Lot 7, North East, were also more likely to meet once a week, as opposed to less frequently, than the other lots (80% compared with 65%), however only around half (53%) of participants in Tayside (Lot 3) met with their key worker at least once a week.
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%).
4.3 In-work support
FSS Participants who have found work and are receiving In-work support are entitled to up to 12 months ongoing support. The aim of this is to increase job retention and progression in terms of skills and / or income. The In-work support provided must include the following elements:
- 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.
For participants with higher levels of need who meet requirements for the Advanced Service or Intense Service strands, providers should also provide Job and Task Analysis and deliver tailored support for the participant's needs in accordance with their Job Analysis.
Again, those who were eligible for in-work support did not consistently report receiving 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%). Those in Tayside (Lot 3) were less likely to say that they had not been offered any in-work support (45%), despite also being more likely to be in work.
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%).
Fewer respondents were supported to develop an "In Work Support Action Plan" (21%), or received monthly workplace reviews with their employer (17%).
Participants in Tayside (Lot 3) were less likely than average to be offered various types of in-work support, such as a dedicated key worker (39% vs 59%), one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact (36% vs 53%) and financial guidance (24% vs 41%). Those in Lot 5 (East) were less likely to be offered the development of an In Work Support Action Plan (16%) than the other lots (30%).
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 4.4 Types of in work support offered
Source: D11h: Were you offered the following in-work support to help you remain in work as part of the Fair Start Scotland service? D11i: Did you take up this support? Base: All who were in work 16 or more hours a week (256). D11j: On a scale of 1 extremely useful to 5 not at all useful, how useful would you say that each of the types of support your received were to you? Base: All who used the support type: key worker (118), one to one appointments (90), workplace inductions (58), In-work support Action Plan (52), financial guidance (60), monthly reviews (42)
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. Around 9 in 10 respondents found each type of support they received useful, other than monthly workplace reviews with their employer, which 8 in 10 found useful (79%).
4.4 Overall views on support
The Fair Start Scotland service is built upon the Scottish Government's key values for public services:
- Dignity and respect
- Fairness and equality
- Continuous improvement
As shown in figure 4.5, most respondents were very positive about the support they received from Fair Start Scotland. Those who were in work at the point of the Wave 1 interview were particularly likely to agree with each attitudinal statement compared with those not in work.
Figure 4.5 Attitudes around support received
Source: D13: To what extent do you agree with the following statements about the support you have received. Base: All respondents (1,005)
Nine out of ten respondents felt that they were treated with respect and dignity (92%), and this did not differ by gender, ethnicity, or presence of health condition, although younger participants were more likely to agree than others (95% amongst those aged 16 – 34 compared with 89% of those aged 35-49 and 92% of those aged 50 and over).
Four fifths (81%) felt that they had choices about the type of support they received, and that they could set their own goals. Women were more likely to agree with this than men (85% vs 79%), as were those aged 16-24 (88%) compared with older participants (78% of those aged 35-49 and 80% of those aged 50 and over agreed).
A further four fifths (80%) felt that the support took account of their individual needs and circumstances, and a similar proportion (79%) agreed that they felt they were in control of their progress on the service. Again, younger participants were more likely to agree with the later statement (82% of 16-34 year olds vs 74% of those aged 35 – 49).
Most participants (78%) also agreed that the service offered support to improve their general quality of life and wellbeing. Women were more likely than men to agree with this (84% vs 75%).
There were some differences by area in levels of agreement with these statements. Those in the South West (Lot 6) were more positive than those in other regions about the following aspects of FSS provision, whist those in Tayside (Lot 3) were less likely to agree:
- Feeling in control of their progress on the service (88% in South West compared with 71% in Tayside)
- Agreeing that they have choices about the type of support they receive and can set their own goals (88% in South West, 71% in Tayside).
Those in the North East (Lot 7) were less likely to feel that the support took account of their individual circumstances (67% compared with 80% overall).
Respondents were also asked for any other feedback they would like to provide about the service. On the whole, there were more positive responses (21%) than negative (11%), with participants particularly praising the staff involved in delivering the service:
If it wasn't for FSS and my support worker, I wouldn't be where I am today. she's done a brilliant job and has been so supportive.
Female, aged 50+, Lot 8 (Highlands and Islands)
The advisor has been very good, phoning and texting when I didn't turn up for appointments. He also understood my situation and he helped me without putting me under any pressure. Very empathetic.
Male, aged 50+, Lot 1 (Glasgow)
It was absolutely fantastic for me and I was the job centre was run a lot more like that service. The job centre creates anxiety for its users whereas with this service I felt like I was treated with dignity and respect - life is great thanks to them.
Female, aged 16-24, Lot 9 (West)
Although small numbers were more critical about the service:
I wasn't offered any courses nor was there any attempt to contact employers. They just humoured me once a fortnight. It was a waste of time.
Female, aged 50+, Lot 6 (South West)
They put me forward for a position within the office which then transpired didn't exist. Any positions I applied for were positions I had found myself and not through the service. I found the benefits [of the service] minimal.
Female, aged 35-49, Lot 3 (tayside)
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