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.

8. Recommendations for future service delivery

Based on the above findings, we have produced the following recommendations. These are based on themes and patterns identified throughout the participant interviews, taking account of their full experiences of FSS, as well as their views. Whilst these recommendations are based on participants' experiences of FSS specifically, they are likely to be useful considerations for other employability services, including the No One Left Behind approach.

1. Ensure the personalised approach is consistently applied. A few respondents who were negative about their experience with FSS felt the service was generic, and not specific to their needs or circumstances. This meant it wasn't helpful to them. Many of the respondents who had a positive experience identified the personalised approach they received as a key benefit of the service and found this really helped them into or towards employment. This suggests the personalised approach is a key strength of FSS, but needs to be applied consistently across all areas of delivery so that all service participants can benefit. This could be supported by ensuring consistency of guidance across all service providers, as well as quality assurance of service provision.

2. Provide more support tailored to childcare difficulties. Many respondents with children had found seeking work very challenging, as they needed a job to fit around the childcare hours offered by local schools and providers, which could be more limited in rural areas. Some would have liked more targeted help from FSS on this issue, such as identifying opportunities particularly suited to parents in this situation, or helping them to get childcare in place so that they were able to look for a job. One individual suggested FSS could advocate for the needs of working parents to help make employers more understanding. The need for greater provision of childcare, as well as improved affordability were also mentioned, but are beyond the remit of FSS. This could be a consideration, however, for the delivery of future employability services.

3. Continue to promote services through varied means to reach all groups. Most respondents had heard about FSS through the Jobcentre. However, a few mentioned that they had heard about the service 'by chance', such as through a friend, and then contacted FSS directly or asked for details at the Jobcentre. These tended to be minority ethnic respondents, suggesting that current promotional methods may not be reaching this group as effectively. These respondents felt they had really benefitted from joining the service, and wanted others like them to hear about the service more easily. FSS is currently promoted through a variety of means, but reviewing how well these reach particular groups - including minority ethnic groups - could identify improvements and enable more people to access employability services.

4. Consider how to maximise training and work experience opportunities. A number of respondents suggested FSS could develop links or become more joined up with other organisations, in order to enhance or widen its provision. Several suggested stronger links with employers, whereby individuals could shadow employees to build their experience, undertake a work trial to see if they were suited to that role, or attend talks from local employers about their business and opportunities available. One individual suggested FSS could link with local schools, colleges, and universities to offer courses for those with skills gaps, with another suggesting FSS provide training related to specific types of roles in order to boost participants' experience. Links with employers or education providers may be of particular benefit to those with considerable gaps in their employment history, to help them gain more skills or recent experience. Finally, one individual suggested links with organisations offering support for specific barriers that can relate to unemployment such as mental health, gambling, childcare, would be helpful. It would be beneficial for any future service to reflect on how best to engage with other organisations to provide a holistic support offering.


Email: employabilityresearch@gov.scot

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