Fair Start Scotland - evaluation report 3: local area case studies - year 2
Part of the Fair Start Scotland series of evaluation reports which presents detailed findings from the second wave of local area case studies in in Dundee, Fraserburgh and Peterhead, and Drumchapel, in north Glasgow, and includes feedback from FSS service providers, participants, and local delivery partners.
2 Fair Start Scotland in Drumchapel
This chapter outlines the key features of FSS in Drumchapel. This chapter covers:
- A description of Drumchapel including the socio-economic context and labour market
- Analysis of the FSS management and performance data for Drumchapel
- A description of the delivery of FSS in Drumchapel
- Key lessons we can draw from this case study area
This section provides information about labour market patterns and socioeconomic trends in Drumchapel - and North West Glasgow more broadly - focusing on levels of deprivation, unemployment and skills and education. Given the lack of availability of regular data on the relevant topics at a Drumchapel area level, socioeconomic trends will be frequently examined in an Area Partnership/Glasgow City Ward level (Drumchapel/Anniesland) where possible.
This section also provides descriptions of local efforts to increase employability and encourage economic growth in the area. Drumchapel is a neighbourhood in north west Glasgow with an estimated population of 12,967. It was constructed as a response to slum housing in Glasgow in the 1950s, but while it provided much better and healthier housing the lack of local jobs and the distance from the jobs of central Glasgow, combined with the deterioration in the housing stock, led to Drumchapel - and the other Glasgow peripheral estates of Easterhouse, Castlemilk and Greater Pollok - becoming characterised by high unemployment and associated features of deprivation. The Drumchapel/Anniesland electoral ward is the most north westerly ward in Glasgow City and had a population of 29,590 in 2018.
There are high levels of deprivation and associated health problems in Drumchapel
According to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2020, 15 out of 16 data zones in Drumchapel were amongst the top 20% most deprived data zones in Scotland. In 2016, 11 out of the 16 data zones in the area were in the top 5% most deprived zones in Scotland. Additionally, 42.5% of the population in Drumchapel North and 32.8% in Drumchapel South are income deprived within SIMD income domain compared to 12.1% in Scotland overall.
[Source: Scottish index of Multiple Deprivation 2020: Drumchapel]
High levels of deprivation in Drumchapel have had an impact on health outcomes, with high levels of child poverty and P1 obesity. Drumchapel has one of the highest rates of child poverty in Glasgow, with 48% of children living in poverty in 2016. 37.9% of children in Drumchapel North and 41.7% in Drumchapel South live in low income families, compared with 16.7% of children in Scotland. Approximately a quarter of residents in Drumchapel are children under the age of 16, compared with 17% across Glasgow.
There is a low level of ethnic diversity in Drumchapel (5% of the population) compared with Glasgow as a whole (12%). Additionally, there are more people in Drumchapel who are disabled or have a long-term illness than in Glasgow overall (15% compared with 9%).
There are high levels of alcohol and drug-related hospital admissions and mortality in the area compared with Scotland overall. The rate of alcohol-related hospital admissions in Drumchapel North was significantly higher than the Scottish average in 2018/2019 (2,540 per 100,000 compared with 669 per 100,000). Drumchapel South had a lower rate, but this figure was still higher than Scotland overall (1,210 per 100,000). The proportion of the population hospitalised due to drug-related conditions in North West Glasgow area is higher than the Scottish average from 2015-2018 (295 per 100,000 compared with 181 per 100,000). The rate of alcohol-specific deaths is also higher than in Scotland overall (32.7 per 100,000 compared with 20.6 per 100,000 from 2014-2018.
Drumchapel South has a significantly higher number of deaths from all causes (all ages) per 100,000 population compared with Scotland from 2016-2018 (2,457.3 per 100,000 compared to 1,153.7). Drumchapel North has a lower rate of 1,776 per 100,000. Life expectancy for females in Drumchapel North and South is lower than in Scotland overall (75.3 years in Drumchapel South and 76.7 years in Drumchapel North compared to 81.1 years). Life expectancy overall in Drumchapel is lower than the Glasgow average.
Drumchapel has one of the highest rates of unemployment in Glasgow
According to the 2011 census, 66% of the population in Drumchapel/Anniesland were aged 16-64. This is a lower rate than North West Glasgow (68%) and Glasgow City (70%). 70% of the population aged 16-64 were economically active in Drumchapel/Anniesland and 30% were economically inactive. A high percentage of these economically inactive residents in the area are students (13.5%) compared with the rest of Glasgow (5.9%).
In 2016, Drumchapel had one of the highest rates of unemployment (14%) in Glasgow which was more than double the Scottish rate at the time (6%) and higher than the rate across Glasgow (9%). In 2011, almost half (49.3%) of working age residents in Drumchapel were not in employment - this was significantly higher than other neighbourhoods in the Drumchapel / Anniesland ward (Temple / Anniesland, 35.7%; Blairdardie, 35.3%).
There is insufficient data available to provide a gender breakdown of unemployment in Drumchapel/Anniesland and North West Glasgow. However, the rate of unemployment amongst males in Glasgow is more than double the rate of unemployment amongst females (6.3% compared with 3%).
In 2015, more people of working age living in the Drumchapel/Anniesland area claimed out of work benefits than in Glasgow, (22.2% compared with 17.9%). 32.7% of working age residents in Drumchapel claimed out of work benefits from 2008-2013. This figure is much higher Temple/Anniesland (18.6%) and Blairdardie (16.4%) over the same timeframe. This is also much higher than the rate in North West Glasgow (17.2%); Glasgow (19.6%) and Scotland overall (12.9%).
In 2016, 14% of out of work claimants aged 16-24 in the Drumchapel/Anniesland ward were claiming Employment Support Allowance and incapacity benefits; 6.9% were receiving income support/other benefits and 2.5% were receiving job seeker benefits.
Based on 2011 census data, 17% of residents in the Drumchapel neighbourhood reported that they had never worked/were long term unemployed, compared with 11.2% in the Drumchapel/Anniesland area partnership. This rate is more than double the rate in North West Glasgow (7.7%) and higher than the rate in Glasgow City overall (9.1%).
In 2015, there were a total of 7,000 employee jobs in Drumchapel/Anniesland. (Employee jobs are the number of jobs held by employees (excluding self-employment, government-supported trainees and HM forces).) 61.4% of employee jobs were full-time and 38.6% were part-time. The biggest industry in Drumchapel/Anniesland in 2015 was public sector services providing an estimated 2,300 employee jobs. This is followed by manufacturing, construction and utilities (1,500 employee jobs); wholesale and retail (1,300 employee jobs); professional services (1,000 employee jobs) and other actives including motor trades, transport, food services, arts entertainment and recreation (900 employee jobs).
There are good public transport links between Drumchapel and the Glasgow labour market but they may be restrictive due to times and cost
There are good public transport links in Drumchapel to and from the Glasgow labour market. Drumchapel is around 5 miles/8 kilometres from Glasgow City Centre. There is one bus service which travels from Drumchapel to Glasgow City centre; the journey lasts 30 minutes. Single adult tickets are £1.70 and the night bus is £3.00. The bus operates frequently (every ten minutes or less) from 8am to 5.40pm and comes more infrequently outside these hours (6.00pm to midnight). The service is less frequent on the weekend.  There is a train station in Drumchapel which serves the Drumchapel, Blairdardie and Old Drumchapel neighbourhoods.
The train to Glasgow City centre is frequent (around 35 one-way journeys a day) and operates from 06.00am to 11.30pm with an average journey time of 19 minutes. Train fares start at £3.60.
For residents of Drumchapel who use public transport to travel outside the area for work are more likely to commute by bus/coach. However, for those working irregular hours or with caring responsibilities, both the train and bus links may not be accessible. Additionally, transport costs may be prohibitive for job seekers and those on low incomes.
However, commuting patterns show that residents of Drumchapel who travel outside the area for work are most likely to commute by car.
On average, residents in Drumchapel have lower levels of qualifications and education compared with Glasgow overall
At 26.3%, Drumchapel has a nearly half the proportion of adults with qualifications at Higher level and above compared with Glasgow. This is reflected in a high proportion of young people not in education, employment or training (20.9%). This figure was higher (39%) for 16-19 year olds in Drumchapel in 2012. Pupil attainment in Drumchapel was significantly lower than the Glasgow average with only 15% of pupils achieving 5 or more qualifications at SCQF Level 5 in 2012-2013. However, 88% of school leavers had a positive destination in 2013 (higher/further education, employment or training).
Local employability support services in Drumchapel focus mainly on young people
- Jobs and Business Glasgow is the main source of employment support in Glasgow and it has a presence in Drumchapel. They work in partnership with Glasgow Life Libraries to deliver employment support in communities. This partnership is important as it provides a less formal setting where people seeking employment support can continue to use the library resources after their support session has ended.
- Glasgow Community Learning and Development Strategic Partnership (GCLDSP) is a multi-agency group led by Glasgow Life responsible for establishing and implementing the Community Learning and Development Plan to improve people's outcomes and opportunities as a result of economic growth and a reduction of inequalities.
- G15 Youth Project. Located in Drumchapel community centre, the G15 Youth Project is a charity working for young people aged 12-35 who live locally. The organisation provides one-to-one support in areas such as employability and hosts awareness workshops on various issues including gang culture and sexual health.
- Pathfinder is a partnership programme delivered by Workingrite and Dumbarton Road Corridor Youth Project across North West Glasgow. The programme aims to help young people into employment, education or work experience. Working with referral partners such as the G15 Youth Project, Skills Development Scotland and The Princes Trust, the programme supported 78 young people from Drumchapel / Anniesland in 2018 through engagement sessions and placements up to 12 weeks.
- Right Track Scotland provides training, employability support and opportunities for self-development and practical work experience for young people across Scotland including Drumchapel. It does through group work and one to one support to help individuals overcome personal development challenges and barriers to employment.
Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the Drumchapel/Anniesland Area Partnership introduced two projects in April 2020 to help support those vulnerable in the community especially as a result of increased levels of unemployment.
- Covid-19 Community Support Response - aims to provide support to the local community with regards to health, finances and social isolation
- Storehouse local foodbank - increased unemployment levels have meant that the foodbank could not meet demand and needed increased support from the council to purchase food and supplies for those most in need in the area
Glasgow City Council has introduced a number of initiatives aimed at increasing economic growth and the availability of jobs across the city
- Community hubs - Glasgow City Council has made a commitment of £20 million to create new community hubs across the city in areas including Drumchapel/Anniesland to engage with the local community and provide local services.
- Drumchapel Thriving Places. Introduced in 2016 to improve the quality of life for people who live and work in the area, the strategy aims to use local knowledge and lessons learnt to help support residents of Drumchapel in areas including health and wellbeing, community safety, education and employment.
- Glasgow Economic Strategy 2016-2023 which aims to make Glasgow the most productive major city economy in the UK by making a number of investments in areas such as tourism and infrastructure.
- Glasgow City Region Deal was a capital investment of £1.13 billion which aimed to create jobs, boost local businesses and fund infrastructure projects over ten years from 2014.
- Glasgow City Region Economic Action Plan - joint economic plan launched by 8 Glasgow City Region councils to create 100,000 jobs, 6,500 new businesses and improvements to qualifications and skills in the area. It aims to support the building of 110,000 new homes.
- The Glasgow Guarantee. The £50 million Glasgow Guarantee programme was launched in 2015 after the city hosted the Commonwealth Games to help local people into employment and job training as well as supporting businesses.
- Glasgow Supported Employment Service supports people with learning disabilities or autistic spectrum conditions to enter and sustain employment.
- Youth Employability Partnership - Glasgow City Council developed a strategy to meet the needs of and support children and young people into employment and education.
What this means for FSS in Drumchapel
As one of the more deprived communities in Scotland, it is important to understand the extent to which FSS has been able to create an effective local presence in Drumchapel, how it has been able to draw in local residents and help them to connect with accessible jobs, and how it works with and complements other local support.
Management and Performance Data for Drumchapel
The infographic below draws on the management and performance data collected between April 2019 and March 2020. It covers all FSS participants who were registered with the Drumchapel Jobcentre (i.e. those who were enrolled on the service).
164 individuals participated in 2019/ 20
- 66% Male
- 34% Female
- 48% With disability or health condition
- 37% < 35 years
- 29% 35-49
- 35% 50+
- 10% Sustained work for 13 weeks
- 6% of Men
- 18% of Women
- 9% of those with disability or health condition
- 10% of those without
- 5.5% of participants enrolled on the programme sustained work for 26 weeks
Description of service
It is important to note that Drumchapel was selected as a pilot site, so FSS has been present in the area since 2017/18.
The lot area covers the local authority area of Glasgow. The FSS contract is held by People Plus who have subcontracted the delivery in Drumchapel to The Lennox Partnership (TLP). Initially the contract was also subcontracted to Remploy, but they are no longer part of the delivery team. Their delivery was mainly focused on participants requiring more intense support and, when Remploy withdrew, support for these participants was incorporated into TLP's delivery of FSS. People Plus and TLP work closely together to deliver FSS in the Glasgow lot area and have developed good working relationships. However, it is important to note that TLP are wholly responsible for delivery in Drumchapel.
As part of the FSS contract, early on People Plus allocated key workers to specific Jobcentre areas so that they were able to build stronger relationships with both the participants and Jobcentre staff in each area. TLP were allocated Drumchapel as they are a well-known and established provider in the area with over 30 years of experience. They were established to "support the regeneration of the Clydebank area following the demise of the shipbuilding and heavy engineering sectors, and to continue the work of the Scottish Development Agency's Task Force who were pulling out of the area".
When TLP first started delivering FSS in Drumchapel, they were based out of their office on Dumbarton Road in neighbouring Clydebank (15 minutes by bus or 30 minutes' walk) which required Drumchapel participants to travel to Clydebank to complete their initial assessments and start receiving support. Within the first two week, TLP realised that this model was not working as participants did not want to or did not feel comfortable travelling outwith Drumchapel. TLP and Drumchapel Jobcentre agreed that the TLP support worker could be based out of the Jobcentre one day a week, in addition to providing daily email or telephone contact with the key Jobcentre work coach.
The decision to co-locate one day a week came as a result of few participants travelling to Glasgow for their initial assessments, but also due to very low Jobcentre referrals (2 or 3 per month), in the early days of delivery. TLP therefore now meet all Drumchapel participants face to face in the Jobcentre. This has increased the number of individuals starting the service as well as other referrals coming through as Jobcentre staff are seeing positive results for these participants. TLP have access to a private room in the Jobcentre one day a week where they can talk to potential participants, which provides participants with more privacy when discussing their support needs.
This change saw increases in the number of referrals (up 7% in the first 8 weeks) and starts on FSS. A key part of the referral process is a "warm handover" between Jobcentre work coaches and the TLP support worker, who then completes the initial assessment and enrols the participant. TLP have received ~128 referrals from Jobcentre work coaches, of which 79 have started the service.
Interviewees stated that the mindset of people in Drumchapel can be very inward looking - this extends to a lack of willingness to travel outwith the area for work:
"Generally, people are born in Drumchapel, live in Drumchapel, work in Drumchapel." - FSS Provider
The main point of contact for FSS in Drumchapel is through the dedicated TLP support worker. There are 9 other TLP support workers who also have Drumchapel FSS participants on their caseloads. As we understand, they do not work exclusively with FSS participants from Drumchapel as they are working on a range of TLP services.
Relationship between the provider and the Jobcentre
The relationship with the Jobcentre has been described as "going from strength to strength" (FSS Provider). Despite some challenges at the beginning, they set up several meetings, with both managers and their teams which allowed TLP to talk about what the FSS service looked like and what support and input they required from Jobcentre staff. It did require a lot of time and effort upfront to develop and build on the relationship with the Drumchapel Jobcentre. The senior work coach at the Jobcentre was important in setting up this strong and positive relationship and TLP now feel that they have a well managed and maintained relationship.
TLP feel that it is important to keep the Jobcentre work coaches up to date on how participants are getting on, but have also written a letter of recommendation and thanks acknowledging the key Jobcentre work coach who is working with TLP. This approach appears to be working well and interviewees feel that it is a key part of the success of FSS in the area which TLP are seeing through an increase in the number of referrals to FSS.
"They can see the successes - the good things that are happening [for participants] - it raises the profile [of FSS]." - FSS Provider
"It is a very deprived community, and a service like this [is] absolutely pivotal in small communities. It's very hard to get people from Drumchapel to Glasgow city centre until they 100% believe you, understand and trust you." - FSS Provider
The Jobcentre is located in a shopping centre in the middle of Drumchapel in a busy area with banks, the library, social work services, and other community hubs nearby.
"The Jobcentre team have created a welcoming environment and they work well together as a team. It's a small, but friendly office, with 5 work coaches who are participant facing" - FSS Provider
In addition, the location of the Jobcentre means that TLP find it easy to meet participants in other locations if they don't want to meet in the Jobcentre. There is a community hub within walking distance which is happy for TLP to use their space to meet participants, in addition to the library.
Referral pathways and considerations
Despite these positive relationships, referrals from Jobcentres have been much lower than initially anticipated. As a result, People Plus and TLP have set up community engagement teams to establish referral pathways to get participants into the service. This includes talking to third sector organisations in the area including mental health services, drug and alcohol addiction teams, as well as Housing Associations and community groups.
"We find having a presence wherever participants are seeking support is important." - Other employability provider
However, one interviewee mentioned that the pattern of referrals needs to be put into context:
- Drumchapel is a complex area in terms of need and the circumstances that people living there face:
- The participants that the Jobcentre and TLP work with are facing multiple barriers to work which include mental health and drug and alcohol addictions
- Many come from workless households with multiple generations of unemployment, there are high numbers of lone parents, and many do not have qualifications
- There is high unemployment and the area has high levels of deprivation. Although there is some regeneration in the area, opportunities remain low.
- Drumchapel is a small Jobcentre, with 5 Work Coaches available to make referrals to FSS, so the referral numbers coming in are good for a small area.
"We need to consider the number of people coming [to the Jobcentre], and the barriers they face. We need to be realistic about the area and a small site - [Jobcentre work coaches] are proactive, keen to engage - so getting this number is really good." - FSS provider
Although challenging to begin with, establishing referral pathways themselves has created some positive benefits for TLP. It has resulted in a larger portfolio of partners, led to a stronger presence in the local area (i.e. increased awareness of TLP), and achieved a wider variation of participant caseloads (i.e. they have had access to participants who might not visit the Jobcentre). There was seen to be value in investing in community engagement to attract additional referrals. There is also a feeling that the community work has increased the number of referrals that have come from the Jobcentre: it is creating a greater awareness of FSS and as a result people are more willing to be referred onto the service as they know more about it.
"Our community work has increased JCP referrals … They are still not as high as we would like, but very much improved." - FSS provider
TLP feel that another reason for this success is because they have a very experienced team of support workers:
- The key workers at TLP are experienced (all have over 10 years' experience) which is important in an area like Drumchapel where many participants have multiple complex needs, face multiple barriers to work, grow up in workless households, and do not want to travel outwith Drumchapel for work.
- Although there are certain conditions of the service set by the Scottish Government (such as when the initial assessment needs to be completed, a CV on file for each participant etc.), the support workers have a lot of say in what activities they can provide to participants. They provide a catalogue of services for additional support and have well established relationships with providers. This ensures that participants are able to get the support they need (e.g. financial advice, mental health, drug and alcohol support).
- As part of their support to participants, TLP provides education and advice on the employability market in terms of the available opportunities, the skills that are required, and where the jobs are located. They focus on the participant's transferrable skills and match these up to vacancies to help participants realise what options are available to them. Part of this process is also about bringing some participants round to the idea that they will have to travel outwith Drumchapel for these opportunities. This takes time, and they have to help participants transition by moving their support sessions into the Clydebank TLP office to get them used to travelling out of Drumchapel. It is hoped that this will help some of them make the next step of travelling into Glasgow where most of the jobs are.
- Support workers also have to educate some participants on the financial side of moving from benefits to employment.
"We do financial calculations that let people know they are better off in employment. Lack of knowledge, maybe generational behaviour - trying to re-educate people that benefits aren't a lifestyle choice - so we spend a lot of time going into financial calculations." - FSS Provider
- The caseload for each key worker is capped at 40 individuals, which they feel results in a better service for individuals. Some of these participants are seen individually, and some take part in group sessions.
- Co-location of TLP and the Jobcentre, but more importantly, the working relationships between TLP and JCP staff result in a more joined up and coherent support service for participants. For example, it was mentioned that participants often tell the Jobcentre one thing and tell TLP another. By having a good working relationship, it means that a more comprehensive picture of the participant and their circumstances is built up more quickly and the right support is identified and provided in the first instance.
Apart from The Lennox Partnership and the Jobcentre, there does not appear to be many other local provision for employability support in the Drumchapel area. There are some providers in Glasgow, such as Jobs and Business Glasgow, that cover the Drumchapel area, but they were not able to provide insight on how FSS was operating on the ground and do not appear to analyse data by area.
Although a few organisations have been mentioned, there does not appear to be any direct competitors for FSS.
There are some other third sector organisations that provide services to the local community such as the North West Drugs and Alcohol addictions team, Elevate, and Cope. There are other services that operate out of Drumchapel Jobcentre such as the Careers Service (SDS), and other organisations provide training supported through the SDS Employability Fund. Our impression from the interviews is that FSS is becoming the main single source of employability support in Drumchapel, and is complemented by a small number of local employability providers, and from the wider Glasgow lot area.
Employment pathways for participants
TLP have built up a strong relationship with the Wheatley Group who run an Environment Routes service which involves removal of waste, graffiti removal, and maintaining communal areas. The Wheatley Group now recruit the staff for this work from FSS participants. TLP were also in talks prior to Covid-19 with both the Wheatley Group and Drumchapel Housing Association to get a desk within their offices.
Another important aspect of TLP's delivery of FSS is around employer engagement. TLP as well as People Plus spend a lot of time building and maintaining employer relationships:
"We want FSS to be the provider of choice for employers and for them to come to us with vacancies." - FSS provider
The employer relationship is important for People Plus and TLP, with each key worker having a range of "go-to" employers for their participants. The key workers spend a lot of time with both employers and participants to ensure that the employment opportunity is right for both parties. TLP explained that for participants, it was about explaining that these opportunities weren't local and building them up to commute to Glasgow. The first step is to transition participant's appointments with their support worker from Drumchapel to Glasgow, before placing them in a role.
This approach was described as being positive as it focused on "selling the participants skills, promoting people to ensure that they are getting jobs that are suitable for them" (FSS provider) (i.e. in terms of skills, progression, ambition and so on) and that crucially "…they are not setting the participant up to fail" (FSS provider).
"Same for participants - need to manage their expectations. An important part of the support that FSS provides is around determining the skillset, transferrable skills, not about what the person wants to do all the time -it's about being realistic, changing their outlook and what opportunities are out there." - FSS provider
The support worker talks to the employer about the participant, what their circumstances are, their likely in-work support needs and ensuring employers are aware of the participant's strengths and weaknesses. Spending this time with employers is valuable, as once a participant is placed, it allows key workers to provide appropriate in-work support and act as a go between which contributes to a sustainable outcome. For example, the key worker will talk to the employer on behalf of the participant to address support needs, and the employer can approach the key worker if they have concerns about the participant. This open, two-way relationship is felt to be important, especially in the first 13 weeks, where they are most likely to fall out of employment.
For TLP, more important that just getting a job outcome, is getting the right job outcome, a sentiment which was echoed by another interviewee. Although they do not always get it right, the time spent with employers reduces the likelihood of employers having false expectations of the participant.
"We spend time making sure it is the right opportunity for the participant. We need to work at their pace, listen to them. It's not just trying to get them into a job - it's spending time up front to get the right opportunity." - FSS provider
Most of the employment opportunities for TLP participants are year-round in entry level positions. But where participants have specific skills, the support workers look for opportunities and contact likely employers on behalf of participants. In addition, they spend a lot of time reviewing and writing CVs, and help with online applications, especially where participants have limited abilities and access to IT.
Employability providers in Glasgow and Drumchapel who we spoke to are really pushing for sustainable jobs as there are benefits to both individuals and employers. The key sectors where participants receiving employability support (from FSS and others) get jobs are in Care, Administrative Occupations, Construction and building trades, Retail, Call / Contact Centre, Domestic and Industrial Cleaning, and Security.
There have recently been a few starts in food preparation with individuals sustaining outcomes for 13 weeks. In addition, other providers mentioned that they were doing well in terms of outcomes for participants, leading up to February 2020 which was likely down to the NHS who tend to employ a lot of their participants.
Leading up to February 2020, Scotland was experiencing record levels of employment and there were a lot of opportunities. Although there were limited opportunities in Drumchapel itself, the opportunities in Glasgow were considered to be numerous and varied, and the feeling was that if people wanted to work, that they were able to. Rather than a lack of opportunity, participants were facing other barriers such as access to childcare, and zero-hour contracts. Some employability providers we spoke to were concerned about Brexit: and "any other events that loosen the labour market" (Other employability provider), such as Covid-19 which is discussed below.
One interviewee mentioned that Brexit will be likely to affect retailers and as these jobs are not as secure or sustainable there is concern about companies leaving the UK or going out of business. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we had already seen the first casualties of shifts in demand, with large, well established chains filing for administration., The importance of Glasgow's retail sector means that this will affect employment levels across the city.
There were some concerns mentioned by a service provider about some of the opportunities that are available for FSS participants, mainly in supermarkets. They have not had success in the past and are concerned about the zero hour contracts that participants are offered as this does not offer them sustainability. Glasgow (up until February 2020) had high levels of contract and agency work (e.g. warehousing, manual labour, constructions etc.). The concern with this type of work was that, although an individual may be suited / qualified for the position, they jump from job to job which makes it hard to evidence sustainable 13 week outcomes, even if they get consecutive contracts.
Lessons from this case study
Providers are finding ways to overcome some of the challenges and barriers that are unique to Drumchapel
Drumchapel is the first peripheral estate that has been a case study as part of the FSS evaluation. These estates are characterised by high unemployment, limited local job opportunities, and an expensive, time consuming and not necessarily straightforward journey to the much greater opportunities of the city centre. Although there are good transport links between Drumchapel and Glasgow, the cost can often be prohibitive, and this can be compounded by a reluctance to look outside the immediate area for work. This case study is of particular significance because it starts to offer insights into the significance of the service (compared with existing local services) in such areas, and the extent to which aspects of the service design should be adopted by the LEP in taking forward the NOLB approach in due course.
Specifically, the key questions are:
- How significant is FSS in the context of a peripheral estate?
- How successful has FSS been in penetrating the market of those further from work and successfully engaging people in this group?
- How well has FSS been able to respond to the lack of local opportunities and helped connect service users to opportunities further afield?
- To what extent have those who have found opportunities further afield been able to sustain them and the travelling that this may have involved?
Drumchapel is a unique area and has different characteristics to Glasgow and the surrounding areas. There is a high proportion of participants who have a history of drug or alcohol misuse and mental health problems and the area is characterised by historic and generational unemployment:
"Community teams dealing with drug and alcohol addictions are bursting at the seams. We normally get someone in the recovery period - clean now but spent last 10 years living with an addiction - so not work ready." - FSS provider
"... Kids being brought up in this culture, expectations to work are far less." - Other employability provider
"… a lot has to do with confidence level. A lot of 18 - 24 year olds never had a lot of positive direction, haven't been told to work, and the older people have fallen into the benefit trap." - FSS Provider
There are high levels of deprivation, and a lack of opportunities locally. This, coupled with the perceived mindset of many in the area of wanting to work in or close to Drumchapel, means that it can be quite difficult to move people into employment.
The key principles of FSS seem to work well in a deprived area like Drumchapel and are important aspects of delivery for the participant group. The flexible nature of FSS, the person centred and led aspects, and the fact that it is a voluntary service appear to be contributing to FSS becoming the provider of choice for employability support in the local area. For Drumchapel in particular, the local approach seems to be an important aspect of delivery.
There is a reluctance for participants to travel outwith Drumchapel for employment, and TLP have identified some of the barriers people face in gaining, and sustaining employment outwith the area and are delivering a service which connects people to where the job opportunities are (i.e. Glasgow).
"The Voluntary nature of FSS sets it apart, gives people choice, and the difference in performance lies here. Empowering people to make a choice about their support and make a better life." - FSS provider
"[FSS] is probably the most effective service in recent years: a) because it is voluntary, and b) because it is participant led. We tailor services to needs of individual participants." - FSS Provider
"Very deprived, a service like this absolutely pivotal in small communities. Very hard to get people from Drumchapel to Glasgow city centre until they 100% believe you, understand and trust you." - FSS Provider
FSS and the wider employability landscape are struggling to align, but there is a desire to improve
There is a general recognition that the employability landscape in Glasgow is crowded and there are a lot of organisations doing similar things and targeting the same participants. Despite this competition, interviewees feel that there are enough participants who need employment support to keep all the providers busy.
"Before FSS, there was a bit of revolving door syndrome, some people had gone through every service but couldn't hold down a job." - FSS provider
"Every Jobcentre in Glasgow is probably overwhelmed by employability providers. They all look very different, so it must overwhelming for Work Coaches to try and figure out where the customers can go." - FSS Provider
However, there are differing views of the landscape and infrastructure between FSS providers and other employability support providers in the area.
"The days where providers worked on their own are gone, the best results come from working in partnership…This joined up approach is happening across Glasgow. We have a clearer understanding of what we are trying to achieve." - FSS provider
However, this view is not shared by other providers who feel that the delivery of employability programmes is still discrete, different funding and reporting requirements means services are not comparable, ESF funding in particular restricts people being on multiple services but GDPR means that providers struggle to highlight these individuals. One interviewee felt that, until Glasgow employability provision is brought together under one framework, such as that provided by No One Left Behind, they will not be able to achieve a joined-up approach across the city.
"Employability is too complex, made up of discrete programmes that bump into each other, and FSS is an example of this. There is a need for a more joined up approach built on No One Left Behind." - Local Authority
"[FSS] needs to have a better understanding of, and process to deal with this - GDPR does complicate this - but it starts with an awareness of what else is out there and available to an individual." - Other employability provider
In terms of the wider employability landscape in the wider Glasgow area, there is a feeling from other employability providers that FSS has not fully engaged with other providers to understand how they can work together, where there is overlap, where participants may already be enrolled on another service and considering what is in the participant's best interest. Although there are Partner forums across Glasgow where providers come together to share best practice, the view is that FSS (generally in Glasgow,) has not done enough to fully understand and work with the existing employability infrastructure in Glasgow.
"Another programme of scale … which did not take license of what was going on in the city… [or the existing] infrastructure". - Local Authority
One interviewee mentioned that the delivery of FSS does not feel innovative or different to what employability providers were already delivering (i.e. in the community, person-centred, flexible etc.) and that "FSS has reinforced what people already knew - that a discrete employability service is not the right approach and further reinforces the need for all providers in the Glasgow areas to deliver under one framework" (Local Authority) (such as No One Left Behind). This will also help answer:
"… how providers support those furthest removed from the labour market; and how these services are funded. The payment model isn't working, and not just in terms of FSS, but other providers also don't have this right". - Local Authority
There is the acknowledgement from the Lead Provider that there are still a number of challenges. Progress has been made, but more work can be done to improve relationships with the Local Authority and the Health and Social Care Partnership, as well as understanding other services in the area and develop a common understanding of how they can work together.
One employability provider felt that, although FSS does provide a much higher level of support and flexibility than previous programmes, they still don't have the resources to support participants with additional employment support needs (such as learning difficulties and disabilities, as well as those with health conditions). They feel that it is important for FSS to signpost individuals who require additional support (particularly those with hidden support needs such as autism) to providers who are better able to support them as the current employability market and support is designed for and operates for more able individuals.
"Feels like an opportunity lost - all funders fund differently and it doesn't work yet. A genuinely joined up services might make some headway here." - Local Authority
The impact of Covid-19 requires a careful response in term of how employability services can work together to help people who are not in employment
Covid-19 has forced employability providers to change their delivery. Some of this is positive, such as reduced operating costs which may have a positive impact for participants as providers can invest more money in delivery. While they are still delivering support for participants, this is all online and via the telephone. They are providing online accredited training, with a focus on getting participants ready for when we emerge from the pandemic. Some providers have focused on investing in their participants by upskilling them at the moment and letting them know there are still activities that they can be doing.
While they have adapted well, the providers we spoke to are finding it difficult not seeing their participants and being able to provide in-person support. There are also concerns around the outreach work which has been affected, but TLP have reported that almost all of their referrals have come via social media (100% in April and May), with a few from employers since then. There have been no referrals from the Jobcentre during this time as their focus shifted to registering clients for Universal Credit.
Covid-19 was a concern for most of the interviewees. While some were more open about the challenges, others took a more practical and optimistic view. The work they do is impacted regularly by changes in the employability market, whether this is as a result of seasonality (i.e. Christmas and Easter), or as a result of businesses closing. They react to the changing needs of employers and they view the Covid-19 pandemic as one of these shifts, albeit on a much larger and more serious scale.
A couple of interviewees mentioned that any event that tightens the labour market and reduces the number of entry level jobs, will impact their participants (i.e. those furthest from the labour market) hardest as competition for vacancies increases.
"Very uncertain - for all participants, heart-breaking for them. The landscape ahead of them looks so depressing and hopeless." - Local Authority
"When a big thing like this happens - it's the ones that have the least skills, less resilience, at the lower end of the job market. They are always hit worse." - Local Authority
"[It will become more of an] employers' market. They will pick and choose, so those further back and with a disability / health condition aren't going to be as attractive [as a new graduate]." - Local Authority
A looser labour market affects those furthest from the labour market more severely and there is a very real risk of them being pushed even further away from employment. This is creating a serious problem for providers as they need to make a choice about their eligibility criteria. They are starting to ask whether they continue to work with their target groups, or do they change their eligibility criteria to those who have become unemployed as a result of Covid-19?
There were different views on this - FSS providers felt that a relaxation of the eligibility criteria would be beneficial as they would be able to work with more participants, but others have cautioned this approach. One interviewee has suggested that there is an urgent need to better understand the employability landscape and who is best placed to work with specific groups, rather than all providers changing their eligibility criteria.
"It would be easier to focus on the easier people to get into employment- but we can't do this as those further away will slip even more." - Other employability provider
One interviewee talked about the lessons learned from the financial crash where they changed their focus to primarily support young people. While this was the right thing to do, on reflection, they should have taken a more proportionate response and continued working with their normal participant group in addition to supporting more young people. She urged the same caution and approach in response to Covid-19.
There are a number of areas where interviewees feel there will be key changes and challenges:
- Some providers are anticipating a change of need for their participants. For example, some might have been furloughed and will likely need some support to get them ready to return and additional in-work support.
- There is concern over how and when Jobcentre referrals will pick up again (on hold since March, with one coming through in July from Drumchapel JCP)
- The level of vacancies that are available and the number of redundancies. This remains unclear and it is changing regularly, so they are waiting to see how this evolves to better inform their approach.
- There has not been enough promotion of the service over the last few months. One interviewee suggested TV and radio adverts to introduce the service to people across the country explaining the service and how people could get involved: "these employment services are essential for the recovery plan" (FSS Provider). They also mentioned that a competitor had been doing advertising.
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