Fair Start Scotland - evaluation report 5: qualitative interviews with service participants - years 4 and 5 - November 2023

Part of a series of reports on the evaluation of Fair Start Scotland (FSS) employability service. The report presents findings from a series of qualitative interviews with FSS participants. The report covers years 4 and 5 (April 2021 to March 2023) of FSS delivery.

6. Future outlook

This section covers the future aspirations of FSS respondents. To understand the extent to which support from FSS has enabled participants to 1) meet their employment goals and 2) inspired respondents to pursue further career development, during the qualitative interviews, FSS respondents were asked whether they had any short and long-term goals. They were also asked whether any support was required to help achieve these goals. Most of the respondents could describe their goals for the near future, however, a few respondents struggled to think about long-term plans.

6.1 Work or education related goals in the next year

Many FSS respondents interviewed expressed some form of work or education related goal that they would like to achieve in the coming year, although this was less frequent among those not in work.

The most commonly expressed goal was to gain some form of qualification. Most of these courses were usually seen as a 'stepping-stone', where the individual could link the education course to a specific career goal, for example, one individual wanted to study for a nursing qualification to become a nurse. Alongside the goals for further education, respondents were also likely to express a desire to save some money to fund their tuition and living expenses. This suggests that some FSS participants have aspirations to find higher 'quality' work beyond their current employment.

Other respondents expressed a desire to develop skills which would improve their employabilty more generally. For example, one individual wanted to gain a driving licence, and another wanted to develop their IT skills to support their goal of becoming self-employed.

Other work or education related goals mentioned included to get back into (any type of) employment, to gain knowledge and/or experience through volunteering and to get a promotion in their current role.

There were some respondents who had no plans or goals for the future. For some, this related to an overall loss of confidence: for example, one FSS individual who was not in employment expressed that they found it difficult to look ahead to the future, because in their past they have failed in their previous goals. Another FSS individual expressed that they are focused on being present as opposed to looking ahead, because similarly they have had negative experiences in the past.

"Over the next year it's hit and miss for me […] [I] live on a day to day basis and don't plan for the future."

FSS Participant, South West

Some felt unable to make specific plans for the future because they continued to face barriers to working[15]. For example, one individual from a priority family, had to leave the service because of an increase in their caring responsibilities and had no short-term plans for the future. Despite this, they expressed a desire to at some point to be able to provide for their family. Other respondents with long-term mental or physical health conditions (but who felt able to work) had continued to struggle to find suitable positions (e.g. part-time hours or accessibility requirements could not be met), so were less likely to express entering employment as a goal.

6.2 Long-term work goals

FSS respondents were also asked about their long-term work plans for the future. Most respondents found this question more challenging to answer, with fewer having concrete goals for the longer-term, usually related to uncertainty they felt about how their situation would evolve.

Among those that did have a longer-term goal, the most commonly mentioned was to find suitable employment. This goal was mostly expressed by those who were not currently in employment, however, some respondents who were working also wanted to move positions. Other long-term work related goals mentioned by fewer respondents included keeping a permanent job (after a period of provisional employment), completing an educational course to improve future job prospects and saving some money.

6.3 Further support needed to achieve goals

Finally, FSS participants were asked if there was any further support they felt they would need to help them achieve their longer term goals. This line of questioning was left open and did not refer exclusively to support participants felt they would need from FSS. Many FSS respondents who had clear aspirations for the future felt that they required no further employment support from FSS or any other source to help achieve their goals. This could be because they were happy with the level of support they were currently getting from FSS (for those still on the service), or they were confident that they knew which steps to take to achieve their goals independently.

However, there were some respondents who expressed that additional support would be useful in achieving their goals. For example, one individual would have liked more mental health support, as they felt their wellbeing had declined recently.

"Maybe they should have a sort of counsellor at Fair Start Scotland to help people like me who are confused."

FSS Participant, South West

A couple of respondents expressed that they would benefit from receiving some form of mentorship. This could be from someone who is an expert in their desired field, or just a general employability advisor. This would help these respondents to feel more supported and confident moving in a new direction in their career.

"Someone to tell me - someone to guide me to the right work to get into."

FSS Participant, Glasgow

Other FSS respondents would like support funding university tuition fees, as they would struggle to study and earn enough money by working to support themselves at the same time. A handful of respondents expressed a desire for further learning and development, for example they would like improved access to courses, (including funding) which develop soft skills such as communication and confidence.


Email: employabilityresearch@gov.scot

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