5. Motivation and overcoming barriers to work
The first part of this chapter explores participants' motivation to return to work and any impact that FSS has had on their motivation. It then describes the barriers and issues preventing participants from working and the extent to which FSS support has helped them to overcome these barriers, and then specifically how confident participants feel in carrying out job search activities.
For each area we focus on experiences of the 2019 cohort, and where possible (where questions were asked in the same way in both Wave 1 and 2 surveys), we discuss any differences between the 2018 and 2019 cohorts. At the end of the chapter we explore the longer-term impacts of the FSS service based on survey responses from the 2018 cohort who took part in both the Wave 1 and Wave 2 surveys over two years.
Views on returning to work
Participants who were not in in work (72 per cent of the 2019 cohort) were asked about their motivation to return to work. The questions were phrased as either 'returning to work' or 'returning to full time work' depending on whether they were not working or working less than 16 hours.
As shown in Figure 5.1 below, the vast majority of participants eligible for pre-employment support felt that they wanted to return to (full time) employment in the future, with three quarters (75 per cent) stating that they wanted to return "to a great extent" and a further 16 per cent "to some extent". A small proportion (3 per cent) did not want to return to work.
It was more common for younger participants aged 16-24 to want to return to work 'to a great extent' than older participants aged 50+, (86 per cent compared to 66 per cent). There were also higher levels of desire to return to work amongst men than women (79 per cent and 69 per cent wanted to return "to a great extent", respectively), and amongst those qualified to degree level of above (88 per cent).
There was some indication that those who have been out of work for longer periods, and those limited by a long-term health condition felt less strongly about returning to work. For example, 80 per cent of those who have worked in the last five years wanted to return to a great extent compared with 69 per cent of those who have been unemployed for five years or more. Two thirds of those limited by a long term health condition (66 per cent) wanted to return to work to a great extent while a fifth (21 per cent) said they would like to return 'to some extent', compared to 88 per cent and 6 per cent respectively among those with no conditions.
Compared to the 2018 cohort, more participants in the 2019 cohort wanted to return to (full-time) work 'to a great extent' (75 per cent, compared to 69 per cent for the 2018 cohort).
Impact of FSS on motivation
Participation in the Fair Start Scotland service had a positive effect on motivation to find employment for close to two-thirds (63 per cent) of participants, with 38 per cent reporting that their motivation to find work had 'increased a lot'. However, a quarter (26 per cent) of participants eligible for pre-employment support felt that their motivation levels had not changed, and a minority (9 per cent) said they felt less motivated.
The service was particularly effective at increasing younger people's motivation, as nearly three quarters of young people (74 per cent) reported an increase in motivation compared to older age groups (59 per cent of 25-34-year olds, and 62 per cent of 35-49 year olds).
Participants in the East Lot were slightly less likely to report an impact in motivation compared to others (53 per cent).
The impact of FSS support on motivation was generally in line across the two cohorts (65 per cent reported an increase in motivation in 2018, and 63 per cent in 2019) although the proportion who said that the service had had no effect on their motivation increased slightly among the 2019 cohort (26 per cent, compared to 21 per cent among the 2018 cohort).
Barriers to work and the impact of FSS support
Participants reported a range of issues that prevented them from working, the most common being a lack of skills, qualifications and experience, which was cited by one in five respondents (21 per cent). Nearly the same proportion said that there weren't enough suitable jobs in their local area (19 per cent) while 16 per cent had a physical health condition that preventing them from being able to work. Overall, 31 per cent of all participants experienced at least one health-related barrier. The full list of barriers is shown below in Figure 5.2.
Younger people (16-34; 29 per cent) and, interestingly, those who had the highest qualifications (degree level and above; 31 per cent) were more likely to mention a lack of skills, qualifications or experience as a barrier. Those with no health conditions, or a condition that did not limit their daily activities were more likely than those limited by a long-term health condition to mention this barrier (25 and 32 per cent compared to 16 per cent respectively).
Both physical and mental health conditions most commonly made it difficult for people to complete work tasks:
- Physical health condition or disability made it difficult to carry out tasks at work (16 per cent).
- Mental health condition made it difficult for me to carry out tasks at work (12 per cent).
- Health condition varies too much for me to be able to work (3 per cent).
- Physical health condition or disability made it difficult to travel to work (3 per cent).
- Did not feel mentally ready to return to work because of my health condition (3 per cent).
- Mental health condition made it difficult to travel to work (2 per cent).
Participants who were not in work at the time of the survey were more likely to experience each of the above health-related barriers than those that had found work, and participants who had been out of work for the last five years were more likely than others to have a mental health condition prevented them from carrying out tasks at work (19 per cent).
Participants over 50 years old were more likely than other age groups to have a health condition or disability that made it difficult to carry out tasks at work (27 per cent of over 50s reported this barrier) and travel to work (6 per cent of over 50s).
Women were more likely than men to report having a mental health condition that made it difficult to carry out work tasks (17 per cent, compared to 9 per cent). Minority ethnic participants were more likely than white participants to report that their health condition varies too much for them to work (8 per cent, compared to 3 per cent).
Participants were asked to what extent they thought the support received from FSS had helped them to overcome each of their reported barriers, on a scale from one, 'had no impact' to five, 'helped a lot'. The proportion of participants who said that the support had helped them to overcome the barrier (i.e. scored either a 4 or 5) are shown in Figure 5.3 for the most commonly experienced barriers.
Figure 5.3 shows that the support from FSS was most helpful to participants who were not feeling confident about applying for jobs, with nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of participants who experienced this barrier saying FSS helped them to overcome it. Over half of participants (54 per cent) who had a mental health condition that made it difficult to carry out work tasks said that FSS support had helped them with this. Just under half nearly half of participants (49 per cent) were helped to overcome the feeling that there were not enough suitable jobs in the local area.
*Frequencies show the percentage who scored 4 or 5. This only recorded where base size where 30 or more people experienced the barrier
FSS support also delivered the following to those who experienced each barrier:
- 46 per cent were helped to overcome the perception that they did not have the right qualifications, skills or experience to find work (46 per cent)
- 44 per cent of participants who felt they would not be employed because of their age were supported to overcome this
- 43 per cent who mentioned family or caring responsibilities as a barrier to work felt the support helped them to overcome this
The 2019 cohort were also asked to highlight which aspects of the support they found made the most difference to them. A wide range of help was mentioned here. Participants were most likely to mention the one to one nature of the support (31 per cent) and help with CVs and application forms (22 per cent mentioned this aspect). Around one in ten participants mentioned that the support was relevant and tailored to them (12 per cent), that they helped with interview techniques (11 per cent), that they received training (9 per cent) and confidence-building exercises (8 per cent).
Job search skills
Participants were asked to rate how confident they felt about completing nine different job-search related activities on a scale of 1 to 5, known as the Job Search Self Efficacy (JSSE) Index. Findings are reported in Figure 5.4.
Across the 2019 cohort, there were variations in the levels of reported confidence in undertaking specific job search tasks. Most participants felt confident (76 per cent) about searching for jobs online, whereas just half (52 per cent) said they were confident to contact and persuade potential employers to consider them for a job.
Figure 5.4 also shows that, as might be expected, participants in work at the point of the survey were more likely to feel confident about each measure of job search ability, than those out of work.
There were a handful of significant differences in terms of participant confidence about individual job search skills. For example:
- Those limited by a long-term health condition were less likely to feel confident talking to friends and other contacts to find out about potential employers (53 per cent) and completing a CV or job application (56 per cent)
- Those with a degree were more likely to feel confident making a list of their skills to find a job than those with lower level or no qualifications (degree; 79 per cent, none; 63 per cent, national 1-5; 67 per cent). They were also more likely to feel confident about completing a CV or job application (82 per cent compared to the average of 64 per cent).
- Men were more likely than women to feel confident talking to friends and other contacts to discover promising job openings (70 per cent compared to 61 per cent) while those without any health conditions were also more likely than those limited by a long term health condition (78 per cent compared to 57 per cent) to feel confident doing this.
When drawing comparisons across cohorts, both the 2018 and 2019 had similar levels of confidence in their job search skills overall.
Longer-term outcomes for the 2018 Cohort
Some of the 2018 cohort who took part in the Wave 1 survey were contacted again at Wave 2, to identify any change in barriers and motivation to work for people who had been in the programme for longer. Responses suggest that outcomes around motivation to return to work reduced slightly amongst those who were not working (or working fewer than 16 hours).
As shown in Figure 5.5 below, the proportion of those not working (or working fewer than 16 hours) who felt motivated to work 'to a great extent' was 69 per cent at Wave 1 and 61 per cent by Wave 2. In addition, the perceived impact of FSS support on participants' motivation had also fallen, with 65 per cent saying that the support increased their motivation at Wave 1, and just 52 per cent at Wave 2.
The barriers preventing the 2018 cohort from working, as reported at Wave 2 are shown in Figure 5.6. Health conditions here play an important role, with 41 per cent of respondents mentioning at least one health-related barrier including:
- Physical health condition or disability made it difficult to carry out tasks at work (23 per cent).
- Mental health condition made it difficult for me to carry out tasks at work (13 per cent).
- Physical health condition or disability made it difficult to travel to work (9 per cent).
- Did not feel mentally ready to return to work because of my health condition (5 per cent).
- Health condition varies too much for me to return to work (4 per cent).
- Mental health condition made it difficult for me to travel to work (3 per cent).
Other barriers not related to health were mentioned, most commonly a lack of qualifications, skills or experience (15 per cent), and a lack of suitable jobs in the area (14 per cent).
Figure 5.7 shows how FSS support was perceived to have helped address the barriers to work. Amongst this cohort, FSS support was most likely to be reported to have helped participants who lacked confidence applying for jobs - over three quarters (77 per cent) of those who reported this barrier said that FSS had helped them to overcome it.