Fair Start Scotland: evaluation report 4 - participant phone survey - year 3
Part of a series of reports on the evaluation of Fair Start Scotland (FSS) employability services. The report presents more detailed findings from a representative telephone survey of FSS participants and explores their experiences in the third year of delivery
Outcomes and motivation to return 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. Findings in this chapter focus on outcomes for the 2020 cohort.
Views on returning to work
Participants who were not in work (62 per cent of the 2020 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 28, the vast majority of 2020 cohort participants wanted to return to work (full time), with four out of five (80 per cent) saying they wanted to return 'to a great extent'. Only two per cent of participants said that they did not want to return at all.
Source: E2: To what extent would you like to return to (full time) work in the future? E8: To what extent would you say your motivation to find (full time) work has increased or decreased from when you began receiving support from the Fair Start Scotland service? Base: All 2020 cohort who work fewer than 16 hours per week (432) Note: Results are presented with answers the following answers combined: (Increased a lot and Increased a little), (No effect, Decreased a little, Decreased a lot).
Younger participants aged 16-24 years were more likely than participants overall to want to return to work at all (99 per cent, compared to 94 per cent). Conversely, those aged 50 or over were slightly more likely than participants overall to say they did not want to return to work although this proportion was still very low (5 per cent, compared with 2 per cent overall).
Participants with no formal qualifications were also more likely not to want to return to work (7 per cent, compared to 2 per cent overall).
Impact of FSS on motivation
As shown on the right of figure 28, the FSS service had a positive effect on motivation to find employment for the majority of participants. Six in ten participants (61 per cent) reported that their motivation to return to work (full time) had increased since they began receiving support from FSS, comprising around a third (35 per cent) who reported that their motivation had 'increased a lot' and a quarter (26 per cent) whose motivation had increased 'a little'.
Another quarter of participants (26 per cent) however reported that their motivation had not changed since receiving support from FSS, while a minority (10 per cent) said that their motivation had decreased since joining FSS.
The FSS service seemed to have the most impact on 25-34 year olds, with 75 per cent of this group reporting increased motivation and 44 per cent reporting an increase of 'a lot' (compared to 61 per cent and 35 per cent respectively of participants overall). As with participants' desire to return to work, those aged 50 and over were less likely to report an improvement in their motivation (44 per cent, compared to 61 per cent overall).
Participants with a limiting health condition were less likely to report an increase in motivation than those with a non limiting health condition and those with no health condition (42 per cent with a limiting health condition reported no/decreased effect on motivation, compared to 27 per cent and 31 per cent respectively).
Barriers to work
Participants reported a range of issues that prevented them from working, but the most commonly mentioned barrier was that the COVID-19 pandemic had made it difficult for them to find work. This was reported by a third (35 per cent) of participants, and more than double the number of the other commonly mentioned barriers, which were not having the right skills or experience (14 per cent) and there not being enough suitable jobs in the local area (14 per cent).
Other commonly mentioned barriers to work related to participants' health and these included having a physical or mental health condition that made it difficult to carry out tasks at work (7 per cent physical health condition, 6 per cent mental health condition).
Participants also mentioned a range of other barriers that were not related to their health. Figure 29 shows the full list of issues or barriers experienced by participants.
Source: F1A: What would you say are the main issues or barriers preventing you from working (full time)? Base: All 2020 cohort who work fewer than 16 hours per week (646)
COVID-19 was mentioned as a key barrier by all participant groups, although those who had been out of work for a long time and parents/priority families were slightly less likely to report this than participants overall (25 per cent of those who had not worked in the last five years, 27 per cent of priority families and parents, compared to 35 per cent overall).
There were several other variations in the barriers experienced by different groups of participants.
Interestingly, participants with a degree or higher level qualifications were more likely to be concerned about not having the right qualifications, skills or experience to find work (19 per cent, compared to 14 per cent overall). Those with no qualifications were likely to experience a physical health condition or disability that made it hard to carry out tasks at work (13 per cent, compared to 7 per cent overall).
Male participants were more likely than female participants to feel there were not enough jobs available in their local area (16 per cent, compared to 10 per cent), while minority ethnic participants were more likely than white participants to report not having the right qualifications, skills or experience (20 per cent, compared to 13 per cent).
Those aged over 50 years were more likely to have a physical health condition or disability that made it difficult to carry out tasks at work (13 per cent compared to 7 per cent overall). Younger participants, aged 16-24 years, were slightly more likely than participants overall to have a mental health condition that made it difficult for them to travel to work, although this barrier was only mentioned by a small number of participants (4 per cent, compared to 2 per cent).
The impact of FSS support on overcoming barriers to work
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 their personal barriers (i.e. scored either a 4 or 5) is shown in Figure 30.
Source: F1B. To what extent do you think the support you received from Fair Start Scotland helped you to overcome these barriers? Base: All 2020 Cohort who selected barrier: Not having the right qualifications, skills or experience (67) Not feeling confident about applying for jobs (20) I have a mental health condition that makes it difficult for me to carry out tasks at work (32) I do not feel mentally ready to return to work for other personal reasons (28) I do not feel mentally ready to return to work because of my health condition (19) The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to find work (224) Not enough suitable jobs in my local area (74) Family or caring responsibilities (48) I have a physical health condition/disability that makes it difficult for me to carry out (43) Concern that people won't employ me because of my age (17) I have a physical health condition/disability that makes it difficult for me to travel to work (14) I have a mental health condition that makes it difficult for me to travel to work (10) Other (180)
Figure 30 demonstrates that the support from FSS was most helpful to participants who felt they did not have the right qualifications, skills or experience and for participants who did not feel confident about applying for jobs. The support received helped six in ten (61 per cent) of these participants overcome these barriers.
The support also helped over half of the participants who experienced mental health conditions that made it difficult to carry out tasks at work (53 per cent), and over half of those who did not feel mentally ready to return to work either for personal reasons (53 per cent) or because of a health condition (52 per cent).
Positively, FSS was also very effective at helping participants to overcome the issue of COVID-19 making it difficult to find work. Nearly half (48 per cent) of participants who reported this as a barrier said that the service helped them to overcome it.
Over a third of participants also reported that FSS had a positive impact on there not being enough suitable jobs in their area (36 per cent), being prevented from working due to family or caring responsibilities (35 per cent) and having a physical condition that made it difficult to carry out tasks at work (35 per cent).
Participants were also asked an open text question about what part of the support they received made the most difference to them. The most commonly mentioned elements of support was help with CVs and application forms (21 per cent), receiving one to one support (18 per cent) and having regular contact or a consistent adviser (17 per cent). Around one in ten participants also mentioned help with interviewing techniques (10 per cent), job searches (10 per cent), suitable job suggestions (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 successfully on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is 'not at all' and 5 is 'a great deal'. This is known as the Job Search Self Efficacy (JSSE) Index. The proportion of participants who felt confident in each activity (scored 4 or 5) is shown in Figure 31.
Overall participants were likely to feel confident about doing all listed activities, however there was some variation in the levels of reported confidence on specific job search tasks. Nearly eight in ten participants felt confident (78 per cent) about searching for jobs online, whereas 63 per cent said they were confident to contact and persuade potential employers to consider them for a job.
Figure 31 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.
Source: How confident do you feel about doing the following things successfully? Base: All 2020 Cohort (646)
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