The Scottish Government commissioned Ipsos to undertake an implementation evaluation of the development and early delivery of No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee. The study assessed progress and learning to date, identifying enablers and barriers to implementation. The findings will inform continuous improvement of Scottish Government commitments outlined in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET) and the Fairer and More Equal Society Programme, which aims to tackle poverty and eradicate barriers to labour market participation. This report presents the findings of the implementation evaluation, which took place between May and December 2022.
1.1 Background and context
Employability in Scotland
Following discussions with stakeholders and service users, the Scottish Government published No One Left Behind: Review of Employability Services in December 2018. It recognised that a critical aspect of inclusive growth was ensuring that as many people as possible have the opportunity to access and sustain fair work. The review concluded that significant system reform was required to drive delivery of more effective and joined-up employability support across Scotland, and ultimately better employment outcomes for service users. It detailed a new partnership approach to employability services in Scotland based on more effective integration and alignment of support and services, and adherence to a set of values and core principles.
An agreement was signed in 2018 between Scottish Ministers and COSLA, on behalf of Scottish Local Government, to confirm that the new approach would be delivered in partnership. Local Employability Partnerships (LEPs) are in place within each of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland to facilitate collaborative planning and delivery of local employability support through public, third and private sector providers.
The overall aim of No One Left Behind is to provide a flexible, user-centred employability system aimed at helping people to find, stay and progress in sustainable work. To deliver this, the Scottish Government and local government will work more collaboratively with third and private sectors to identify local needs and make informed, evidence-based decisions, flexing these to meet emerging labour market demands. These partnerships will also help to align with other services to ensure a holistic, inclusive and universal approach to employment support in Scotland.
The objectives and key principles of No One Left Behind relate to:
- An employability system that tackles inequalities in Scotland's labour market, creating a more responsive, joined up and aligned employability system that helps people of all ages, who face the greatest barriers to progress towards, into and to sustain work.
- Dignity and respect; fairness and equality; continuous improvement; and embedding lived experience.
- Collaboration across Government and wider partners and stakeholders to address barriers to employment, and support people into work by ensuring the employability offer in Scotland is person-centred, flexible and responsive to the needs of individuals and employers.
- Creating the conditions for funding and service delivery integration and alignment, joining up with health, housing, justice and other policy areas, to provide clearer pathways to sustainable employment.
- Driving collective leadership across the system by engaging with strategic partners in the public, private and third sectors to develop a platform for development of future employability services in Scotland – with individuals at the centre.
The No One Left Behind Delivery Plan was published in November 2020. It restated the Government's ambitions to deliver on No One Left Behind, whilst acknowledging that the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 had impacted on the pace of progress to date.
Young Person's Guarantee
The Young Person's Guarantee (Guarantee) was introduced in November 2020 in direct response to the economic and labour market challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. It aimed to mitigate the potentially damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people's transitions from education to employment. There was also recognition from the outset that not all young people experience the labour market equally and that groups who are experiencing barriers fare even worse during times of recession. The ambition of the Guarantee was that "every person aged between 16 and 24 in Scotland has the opportunity, depending on their circumstances, to study; take up an apprenticeship, job or work experience; or participate in formal volunteering".
A total of £175m was invested through the Guarantee over a two-year period. This was distributed directly to agencies and organisations delivering support to young people. The proportion of the funding that was invested in local authorities (via Local Employability Partnerships) was delivered within the framework of the No One Left Behind approach and included in the scope of the implementation evaluation. In 2020, the Guarantee represented £30m investment made through LEPs to deliver employability support for young people. This increased to £45m in 2021 when the scope of the Guarantee was broadened to incorporate training, Employer Recruitment Incentives (ERI) and mental health interventions for young people.
1.2 Wider policy and operational context
No One Left Behind has a key role to play in supporting implementation of Scotland's National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET), which sets out key priorities for Scotland's economy and actions required to maximise opportunities over the next decade to achieve the vision of a wellbeing economy. It also has a crucial role in supporting the Scottish Government's Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-26, which includes a commitment to increasing investment in employment services aimed at supporting parents to enter and progress in sustainable and fair work.
There are a wide range of employability programmes supported by the Scottish Government which come under the banner of the No One Left Behind approach. These include: Our Future Now, which works with charities across Scotland to support young people into education, employment and training; Discovering Your Potential, which provides flexible and intensive support for young care leavers; and the Parental Employability Support Fund, which provides support to parents both in and out of work to increase their income from paid employment.
1.3 Evaluation aims and objectives
The aim of the implementation evaluation was to assess progress and learning to date from the development and early delivery of No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee. It considered the extent to which the aims and objectives of No One Left Behind and the Guarantee were on track to be achieved, and any adjustments that might need to be made in future phases to enable this. The evaluation aimed to address three overarching questions:
1. How effectively have No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee been implemented?
2. What has been the experience of service providers and service users?
3. What are the lessons learned for Scottish Government, LEPs and wider stakeholders from early design and delivery?
The findings are intended to inform continuous improvement of employability policy. This is crucial to simplifying the system for service users and supporting a continued shift towards user engagement, integrated service delivery and shared measurement in achieving the transformation required to maximise the impact of investment in employability and deliver better outcomes. The findings will also form a baseline against which future progress in implementation can be assessed and that any future evaluation of employability support in Scotland can build upon.
1.4 Structure of document
The remainder of this report is structured as follows:
- Chapter 2 provides an overview of the methodology used for the evaluation.
- Chapter 3 presents key findings on the implementation of No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee.
- Chapter 4 details stakeholder experiences of implementation of No One Left Behind and the Young Person's Guarantee.
- Chapter 5 presents feedback from service users on the employability support received.
- Chapter 6 presents summary conclusions and recommendations.
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