Ipsos were appointed by the Scottish Government to undertake an implementation evaluation of the development and early delivery of No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee. The evaluation explored how effectively No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee had been implemented, the experiences of service providers and service users, and lessons from early delivery.
This summary presents key findings from the evaluation, which took place between May and December 2022.
A mixed-methods approach was taken to the implementation evaluation, drawing on quantitative and qualitative research with local employability stakeholders, staff and and service users. The aim was to incorporate as broad a range of views and perspectives as possible to address the evaluation questions.
The term 'staff' is used throughout this report to refer to those involved in delivering employability services. This includes management (local authority employability leads and others involved in the design and management of employability programmes in local areas) and frontline staff (key workers, employability support workers and others who work directly with service users; work / careers coaches; employer engagement leads; training providers).
Key findings: Progress in implementation
- There was mixed feedback from local stakeholders on how well No One Left Behind had been implemented locally, although most perceived this positively.
- No One Left Behind was said to have facilitated better partnership working between employability stakeholders at the local level, including bringing greater focus and purpose to existing partnerships structures.
- Whilst there was some variation between areas in the extent to which No One Left Behind was considered to represent a 'new' approach, most local stakeholders agreed that it had contributed to further development and enhancement of services.
- Some local stakeholders thought more could be done to engage and support people who were furthest from the labour market, including those with protected characteristics.
- Most stakeholders thought the Young Person's Guarantee had been implemented well locally and was an appropriate response to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on young people's progression in learning and work.
- There was variation between areas in the balance of services delivered in-house relative to externally commissioned, although most were working with a wide range of third sector, private sector and education providers.
- Local authorities were also working with a wide range of local employers, and the Employer Recruitment Incentive had created new opportunities to expand their work with employers.
- The monitoring and reporting requirements for No One Left Behind (which includes activity delivered through the Guarantee) were considered very time consuming by local authorities who had to gather and collate data from across the range of partners and employers they were working with.
- The Guarantee funding not being accessible until November 2020, and the No One Left Behind being annual funding cycle, created distinct challenges for implementation and delivery for both.
Key findings: Employability staff experiences
No One Left Behind
- General awareness of No One Left Behind was high amongst staff delivering employability services.
- Most employability staff agreed that the services they delivered aligned with No One Left Behind principles, even when they were not fully aware of the details of the strategy and its aims.
- Most staff who responded to the survey agreed that No One Left Behind had made at least some positive difference to service delivery in their area, although one in every four did not know if it had.
- Employability staff identified some examples of positive changes resulting from No One Left Behind included: greater local decision-making; increased partnership working; development of new services; less duplication of service delivery; and increased communication between the local authority and service providers.
- Feedback from employability staff suggest scope for further improvement in partnership working at the local level and ensuring that employability services are easy for people to navigate.
- Of those staff who thought that No One Left Behind had made a positive difference, most thought that No One Left Behind had enabled more people to be supported and had made employability services easier for people to navigate.
- Key barriers identified by employability staff to implementation of No One Left Behind related to administrative burden and resourcing challenges, including frontline workers feeling under time pressure or under-staffed.
- Employability staff expressed some frustration at the current funding processes and timescales, which were limiting their ability to plan longer term and creating pressure to allocate available local funding at pace.
Young Person's Guarantee
- Awareness of the Young Person's Guarantee was higher amongst service providers than No One Left Behind and it was found to have been embedded within the wider landscape of employment support services in most areas.
- Most employability staff thought the Guarantee had made a positive difference to the way services were being delivered to young people in their area and that it was the right response to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on young people's progression.
- Examples of positive changes identified by employability staff from the Guarantee included: more employer engagement, the creation of additional training opportunities, more flexible, person-centred support and improved partnership working at the local level.
- Employer Recruitment Incentives were found to have been generally well received by employers, although some employability staff were less convinced of the need for these in the current climate where many employers are struggling to recruit.
Key findings: Service user experiences
- The most common referral routes into employment support services are the Job Centre (for those aged 25 and over) and careers advisers (for those aged under 25).
- Most service users were looking for support to help find a job, but many were also looking for other types of support including to build confidence or access careers advice, training, apprenticeships, work experience or support to remain in work.
- Service users accessed a wide range of services, with support for CV development, one-to-one support from a key worker, and job search support being the most common.
- Most service users said they found it easy to access employment support services with the most common reason being that staff were friendly, approachable, supportive and encouraging.
- The small number of people who found services difficult to access referenced the services not been well advertised or well-known, and challenges faced in making contact, including phones not being answered, being kept on hold or people not getting back to them.
- Service users were experiencing a wide range of challenges and barriers to progression at first engagement with the service, with low confidence / self-esteem and mental health and wellbeing issues being the most common.
- Service users reported high levels of satisfaction with the support they received due to the holistic, tailored and person-centred nature of support and how open, supportive and encouraging the staff delivering the services were.
- Most service users agreed that the support received was delivered by knowledgeable staff, communications were simple and clear, was tailored to their needs, their existing experience and current situation was recognised, and were easy to access and engage with.
- Key themes amongst those who were dissatisfied with the service related to the time taken to access particular types of support and a lack of responsiveness, with some thinking that services seemed understaffed.
- Around half of service users had been asked by the employment support service to provide feedback on the services they received, and around half said they knew how to complain if they were unhappy with the support received.
The evaluation identified some potential areas for improvement in relation to ongoing implementation of No One Left Behind and the implementation of future programmes and these are set out below (discussed in more detail in Chapter 6 'Conclusions and Recommendations').
Targeted awareness raising
Recommendation 1: Increase knowledge and understanding amongst service providers of No One Left Behind principles and supporting tools.
Recommendation 2: Increase promotion and awareness of the services on offer to potential and current service users, particularly those who may be facing barriers to engagement.
Making best use of data and evidence
Recommendation 3: Increase effectiveness of data use to better tailor service provision, particularly for services aimed at those facing additional barriers to employment.
Recommendation 4: Provide additional support and resources for data collection and reporting processes associated with No One Left Behind.
Recommendation 5: Increase opportunities for service users to provide feedback on their experiences.
Learning from Young Person's Guarantee
Recommendation 6: Use learning from the Young Persons' Guarantee to inform future employment support for young people.
Mental health provision and support
Recommendation 7: Improve access to mental health support for service users.
Confirmation of available funding
Recommendation 8: Communicate funding for future time-limited interventions as early and widely as possible.
Recommendation 9: Provide more certainty as early as possible on likely future funding to enable longer term planning.
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