Analysts from the Scottish Government undertook three short online surveys with Fair Start Scotland (FSS) participants who joined in Year 4 (April 2021 – March 2022) of service delivery, as part of the ongoing evaluation of the service.
The surveys focused on exploring views, experiences and recommendations with regards to:
- receiving in-work support, for those who started on a job while taking part in FSS - this was motivated by the aim to better understand the experiences of participants receiving the in-work element of employability support to help them sustain employment (Survey 1)
- re-joining FSS, for those who re-started on the service - this was motivated by the aim to capture the experiences of those who took part in the service more than once following a recent change to the eligibility criteria that allowed past FSS participants to re-join the service (Survey 2)
- support for FSS participants who were parents - this was motivated by the aim to better understand the experiences of parents taking part in FSS, following an increased policy focus on supporting parents into employment and reducing child poverty rates (Survey 3)
The purpose of this report is to present the findings from this series of three online surveys.
1.2 Explanation of terms used in this report
Fair Start Scotland / FSS: Scotland's first fully devolved employability service aiming to provide support to those further away from the labour market and those with complex barriers to employment to gain sustained employment through personalised 12-18 months of pre-employment and up to 12 months of in-work support.
Participant(s) / Survey participant(s): Those who shared their views and experiences of taking part in FSS through completing one of the three online surveys that formed part of this research
In-work support: Every FSS participant who started on a job while taking part in the service is entitled to up to 12 months of in-work support to help them to stay in work. This includes development of an in-work support action plan, a dedicated key worker and one-to-one appointments with regular support. A range of more specialist support is also available depending on service participant's needs.
Re-joiners: Those who started on FSS after previously had taken part in the service (once or more than once). Starting from April 2021, the eligibility criteria for joining FSS was changed to allow individuals who took part in FSS in the past to re-join the service after a specified amount of time. Individuals can re-join as many times as they perceive to be helpful.
Fair Start Scotland (FSS) participants that are parents: In Year 4 of FSS, 2,947 people that started on the service were known to be parents, representing 29% of all those who started in Year 4.
1.3 Background to Fair Start Scotland
Fair Start Scotland (FSS) is Scotland's national employability support service that has been delivering employability support across Scotland since its launch in 2018. The service was set up following the devolution of employability support under the Scotland Act 2016. It is delivered by a mixed economy of public, private and third sector suppliers in nine geographic contract areas across Scotland.
Since its launch in April 2018 until September 2022 there have been 51,076 starts on the service and 47,613 individuals took part (with some individuals taking part in the service more than once).
The service is designed to support those with persistent and complex barriers to employment including disabled individuals and those who have been unemployed for a long time. Other groups are also eligible to join including: those from minority ethnic groups, lone parents, those who are care experienced, refugees, those with a long term health condition and those with past convictions. The service also aims to support those living in 15% most deprived local authority areas. Individuals can either be referred by Jobcentre Plus or other services or people can self-refer. The service is entirely voluntary. The design and delivery of the service has been informed by 'The Scottish Approach' to designing employability services as outlined in Creating a Fairer Scotland: A new future for employability support in Scotland and included the key values of dignity and respect, fairness and equality and continuous improvement.
Individuals joining the service can expect to be provided with long-term, intensive employability support. The service offers up to 12-18 month of pre-employment support and participants who start on a job while taking part in the service can expect to received 12 months of in-work support.
At the beginning of Year 4 of FSS delivery (April 2021), a change to the inclusion criteria for joining the FSS service was introduced to allow those who already took part in the service (for any length of time) to re-join. Each individual can re-join the service as many times as they perceive to be helpful.
1.4 Aim and objectives
The aim of these short online surveys was to explore the views, experiences and impacts of taking part for those individuals who joined the service in Year 4. There was a specific focus on three distinct aspects of FSS delivery - the provision of in-work support, support for those who re-joined the service and support for parents.
In particular we aimed to gather evidence on:
- views and experiences of in-work support, for those FSS participants who started on a job while taking part in FSS (Survey 1) including
- types of in-work support received
- reasons for not taking up in-work support offered
- current employment status
- changes to their income
- views on what could be done better
- views and experiences of re-joining FSS, for those who re-started on the service (Survey 2) including
- reasons for re-joining the service
- perceived changes to how the service is delivered over time
- views on what could be done better
- views and experiences of support among those FSS participants who were parents (Survey 3) including
- views on usefulness of support
- views on what could be done better and what could be done better to support parents specifically
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