3. Experience of support
This chapter examines the following areas:
- the different types of pre-employment support that were offered to and taken up by participants, and how useful participants found them
- the different types of in-work support that were offered to and taken up by eligible participants, and how useful participants found them
- participants' overall views of the support service and reasons for ending engagement with the service.
For each area we focus primarily on experiences of the 2019 cohort and note any significant differences to the 2018 cohort, where relevant. At the end of the chapter we also describe experiences of the 2018 cohort who took part in both the Wave 1 and Wave 2 surveys who could therefore have been engaged with the service for up to two years.
Respondents from the 2019 cohort were asked whether they knew that joining the service was voluntary, what types of pre-employment support they were offered during the Fair Start Scotland service, and whether or not they took up these types of support.
Nearly all (95 per cent) of the 2019 cohort asked were aware that the support was voluntary when they signed up. Just four per cent thought they had to take part and one per cent did not know. This awareness was significantly lower among minority ethnic participants from the 2019 cohort compared to those of white ethnicity (97 per cent, compared to 80 per cent respectively). It was also lower among the 2019 cohort in the Lot 1 – Glasgow compared to other participants (89 per cent, compared to 95 per cent overall).
Turning now to the types of support that participants received, 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
- Self-employment support for those interested.
For participants with higher levels of need, providers are required to give further help. These include additional elements such as specialist support for specific physical or mental health conditions, or for those recovering from drug / alcohol / substance misuse and support addressing barriers due to records of previous convictions and explaining models such as the Supported Employment Model for Disabled People.
Figure 3.1 below shows the different types of support that participants from the 2019 cohort reported that they were offered and how many went on to take up that support.
Of all the 2019 cohort, 28 per cent reported that they were limited by a long-term mental health issue that and nearly half of those (47 per cent) said they were offered specialist support with a mental health condition through the FSS service. By contrast, 40 per cent of 2019 participants were limited by a physical health condition or disability and of those, less than a quarter (23 per cent) recalled being offered specialist support for a physical health condition through the FSS service.
The dark purple bars in Figure 3.1 show the proportion of the 2019 cohort that did not recall being offered each support type, for example, 17 per cent reported that they were not offered help with job search activities and applications.
The most common types of support that the 2019 cohort took up tended to be the more generic, widely relevant activities:
- a dedicated key worker or employability advisor (96 per cent of those offered)
- one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact (94 per cent of those offered)
- the development of a personalised Employment Action Plan (89 per cent of those offered)
- help with job search activities and applications (79 per cent of those offered)
Smaller proportions reported being offered specialist support with a mental health (32 per cent) or physical health condition (20 per cent), help managing finances or dealing with debt (34 per cent) or help with an addiction (15 per cent). This is likely to be because these forms of support would only be relevant to certain participants. Roughly half of those offered these forms of support went on to take them up, except help with an addiction where only 25 per cent of those offered took it up.
There was some variation by participant group, in terms of the support services they reported / recalled having been offered. As might be expected, younger participants (16 to 24 years) were more likely to report being offered access to work tasters, work experience or apprenticeships opportunities, whereas older participants (50+ years) were less likely to be offered this kind of support (61 per cent and 32 per cent respectively, compared to 42 per cent among others). The older age group were also less likely than others to recall being offered specialist support with a mental health condition (26 per cent, compared to 32 per cent).
There were few differences in the level of take up by group except that younger participants were slightly less likely than other age groups to take up the offer of a dedicated key worker or employability advisor (91 per cent, compared to 96 per cent). Those in priority family groups were slightly less likely to take up the offer of help with job search activities and applications (82 per cent, compared with 91 per cent).
Participants' health was correlated in a few ways with findings around support with job search activities and applications in particular:
- Participants with no health conditions were more likely than those that were limited by a long-term health condition to take up job search support (94 per cent, compared to 85 per cent overall)
- Participants with no health conditions were also more likely than those limited by a long-term health condition to find job search support useful (80 per cent, compared to 70 per cent)
There were several differences in the take up of support in Lot 3 - Tayside compared to other Lots. For example, participants from Tayside were less likely to take up the offer of a dedicated key worker or employability advisor (88 per cent, compared to 96 per cent overall), or one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact (83 per cent, compared to 94 per cent overall).
Also shown in Figure 3.1, participants from the 2019 cohort were generally positive about the usefulness of FSS support they received. Roughly four in five found the following services useful: one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact useful (80 per cent); specialist mental health support (82 per cent); a dedicated key worker or employability advisor (78 per cent).
Nearly all participants in Lot 4 – Forth Valley found their dedicated key worker or employability advisor support useful and this was considerably higher than participants overall (92 per cent, compared to 78 per cent).
Meeting with a key worker or employability advisor
Participants were also asked how often they met with their key worker or employability advisor. As shown in Figure 3.2, around two thirds (63 per cent) met with their key worker about once a week, with a further quarter (24 per cent) meeting about once every two weeks. Most of those who met with a key worker felt that the frequency of meetings was about right (87 per cent).
Differences in pre-employment support: 2019 and 2018 cohorts
The take up and usefulness of pre-employment support among the 2019 cohort was generally in line with the 2018 cohort who were surveyed at the same point in their customer journey via the Wave 1 survey. Figure 3.3 shows two notable differences in take up which may indicate changes in service provision over time:
- The proportion of participants that took up access to work tasters, work experience or apprenticeship opportunities was higher among the 2019 cohort than 2018 (29 per cent, compared to 24 per cent).
- Similarly, the proportion of participants that took up support to develop a personalised Employment Action Plan was higher among the 2019 cohort than 2018 (64 per cent, compared to 54 per cent).
Findings around how frequently participants met with their key worker or employability advisor, and how they felt about this frequency, were in line with the 2018 cohort.
Participants who move into employment for 16 hours a week or more are entitled to up to 12 months in-work support to help them sustain that employment. 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 (as above, these have been summarised from the FSS Operations Guidance):
- Continued 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,
- An exit plan for leaving the FSS service.
For participants with higher levels of need, providers should also provide Job and Task Analysis and deliver tailored support for the participant's needs in accordance with their Job Analysis.
Figure 3.4 below shows the proportion of the 2019 cohort who were offered and took up the various forms of in-work support, and how useful they found it. It shows that, of all the support services offered, the 2019 cohort were most likely to take up one- to-one appointments with regular support and contact (33 per cent) and a dedicated key worker (39 percent). Smaller proportions of the 2019 cohort used the other types of in-work support, with 14 per cent taking up each of: support to develop an action plan; support with a workplace induction, and monthly reviews with their employer.
Figure 3.4 also shows that, while the proportion of participants who were offered and took up in-work support is generally lower than the pre-employment support, participants who used in-work support were even more likely to find it useful. Satisfaction with the usefulness of support ranged from 83 per cent for monthly workplace reviews to 92 per cent for development of an In-work support Action Plan.
Comparing the 2019 cohort with the 2018 cohort at Wave 1 – both groups had received support for a similar amount of time - slightly fewer of the 2019 cohort recalled being offered in-work support. Three fifths (57 per cent) said they had, compared to 67 per cent of the 2018 cohort.
Overall views of support
In addition to covering specific types of pre-employment and in-work support, the Wave 2 survey asked the 2019 cohort about various other aspects of the support they received. 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. To gather participants' views about the support they received, the survey asks them to give their agreement with a list of statements based on these key values.
As shown in Figure 3.5 below, most of the 2019 cohort were very positive about the support they received from Fair Start Scotland. A majority of participants reported that their treatment did align with these values, with between eight and nine in ten agreeing with each of the statements.
Overall, at least four-fifths of respondents agreed with each of the statements listed. They were most likely to agree that, when receiving support from Fair Start Scotland, they were treated with dignity and respect (91%). Between 80% - 81% agreed with each of the statements that: the support took account of their individual needs; they had choices about the type of support and could set their own goals; the service offered support to improve their quality of life and wellbeing; and they were in control of their progress on the service.
Those who were in work at the time of the survey were more likely to agree with the following statements compared with those not in work:
- I feel the service offered support to improve my general quality of life and wellbeing: 87 per cent, compared to 77 per cent.
- I feel the support took account of my individual needs and circumstances: 88 per cent, compared to 76 per cent.
- I felt I was in control of my progress on the service: 86 per cent, compared to 78 per cent.
Women were more likely than men to agree that the service offered support to improve general quality of life and wellbeing (86 per cent, compared to 78 per cent), while white participants were more likely than minority ethnic participants to agree that they had choices about the types of support they received and could set their own goals (82 per cent, compared to 71 per cent).
The 2019 cohort were also asked an open text question about whether there was any other type of support that they wished they could have received from FSS to help them move closer to work. Nearly three quarters (71 per cent) said there was no other support they would have wanted to receive. Five per cent said they would like to have been offered training courses, and four per cent said they would have liked to have been offered relevant employment opportunities. Other common responses given by smaller proportions included more personalised help and support, consideration of health issues, help with getting work experience or a job and more help with CVs, job applications and interviews.
Reasons for ending engagement with FSS
At the time of the survey, 58 per cent of the 2019 cohort were actively engaging in support from FSS and 39 per cent were not. As Figure 3.6 illustrates, the most common reasons for participants having ceased engagement with the service were that the participant found work (19 per cent), the programme of support came to an end (14 per cent) or the participant felt that the service was not relevant to their needs (14 per cent).
There were some differences in terms of participants' reasons for no longer engaging with FSS. Participants who had worked in the last five years were much more likely to leave because they moved into work or training than those who had not (32 per cent, compared to 7 per cent). Those who were not in work were more likely than other participants to leave because they were unable to remain on the programme (23 per cent, compared to 17 per cent overall).
Compared to the 2018 cohort at Wave 1– at a similar point in the customer journey - a smaller proportion of the 2019 cohort left the FSS service because their programme came to an end (14 per cent compared to 22 per cent). However, the proportion who left because they found work was consistent, as were all other reasons for leaving.
Longer-term experiences of support
Some of the 2018 cohort who took part in the Wave 1 survey were contacted again at Wave 2. Having potentially engaged with FSS over a longer period (up to two years) they were asked whether they were still receiving support and about their experiences of that support.
As shown in Figure 3.7 below, a very small proportion (6 per cent) of the 2018 cohort were still receiving pre-employment support at Wave 2, which is to be expected as most would have exceeded the 18-month period for which they were eligible to receive it. The results also show that more 2018 cohort participants at Wave 2 were in work and working over 16 hours per week compared to Wave 1 (31 per cent, compared to 25 per cent) and were therefore still eligible to receive in-work support. However, of this group, only 35 per cent were receiving in-work support from FSS (equivalent to 8 per cent of all respondents, as shown).
The take up of in-work support is further explored in Figure 3.8. It shows that, of the 2018 cohort who were eligible to receive in-work support at the time of the Wave 2 survey, a relatively low proportion reported that they had been offered the various forms of support available.
Where the 2018 cohort had received in-work support, they were most likely to have received help from a dedicated key worker (26 per cent), and least likely to have received monthly workplace reviews (7 per cent).
The Wave 2 survey also asked respondents from the 2018 cohort who had left the service in the year between surveys why they had left. Over half of the 2018 cohort left in the last year because the programme of support came to an end. This rose to 61 per cent among participants who were not working, compared to 42 per cent who were in work. One per cent of the 2018 cohort left in the last year because they had started college or training while 16 per cent left because they had found work.