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Fair Start Scotland employability service - year 4: online survey results

Findings from a series of three short online surveys with participants of Fair Start Scotland (FSS) employability service. Surveys focused on experiences of in-work support, of re-joining FSS and on support for parents. The report covers year 4 (April 2021 to March 2022) of FSS.


3. Survey 1 Results: Views and experiences of in-work support

FSS participants who start on a job while taking part in the service can expect to receive 12 months of in-work support. This includes being allocated a key worker, one-to-one appointments with regular support and contact, development of an in-work support action plan and other types of support such as support with workplace induction or financial guidance.

This survey aimed to explore views and experiences of taking part in FSS service for those Year 4 service participants who started on a job at any point after joining the service.

The survey aimed to explore the types of in-work support received by service participants, reasons for not taking up an offer of in-work support, views on usefulness of in-work support and views on what could be done better to support those who started on a job. We also asked survey participants about changes to their income since they started on a job.

3.1 Length of employment and changes to income from work over time

At the time of completing the survey, 79% of survey participants were in-work (Figure 1). Of these, 9% were in work for a year or longer, 33% were in-work for at least 6 months but less than a year and 37% were in work for less than 6 months. A further 8% were in and out of work and 7% have since stopped working.

Figure 1: Employment situation at the time of completing the survey for those survey participants who started on a job while taking part in FSS

The employment situation at the time of competing the survey varied for survey participants. 33% have been in work for at least 6 month but less than a year, 21% were in work for between 3 and 6 months and 16 % were in work for less than 3 months. Other have been in work for a year or longer, have since stopped working or have been in and out of work.

Source: Survey of Year 4 FSS participants who started on a job while taking part in FSS service, Q5: "Since you started work, have you:", N = 330.

Two fifths (40%) of survey participants indicated that their income increased since they started on a job (as either a result of increased hourly rate (25%), increase in hours worked (13%), pay rise (7%), other factors including a combination of the above factors (5%)).

A further 37% of survey participants indicated that their income either stayed the same (30%) or it decreased since they started on a job (7%). Figure 2 shows changes to income for survey participants who started on a job while taking part in FSS.

Figure 2: Changes to income over time for survey participants who started on a job while taking part in FSS (respondents could select all that applied)

For 30% of survey participants there was no change in income since they started on a job. 25% indicated that since they started on a job their hourly rate increased and 13% indicated that since they started on a job the number of hours they work increased.

Source: Survey of Year 4 FSS participants who started on a job while taking part in FSS service, Q6: Since you started work has your income from working increased? Please select as many as apply to you:", N = 359.

3.2 Types of in-work support received and reasons for not taking up offer of in-work support

Most (87%) survey participants recalled receiving at least one type of in-work support. Specifically, 20% of survey participants reported receiving one type of in-work support, 30% reported receiving 2-3 types of in-work support, 17% reported receiving 4-5 types of in-work support and 21% reported receiving 6 or more types of in-work support. Figure 3 details the proportion of survey participants who recalled receiving different types of in-work support.

Figure 3: Proportion of FSS participants who recall receiving different types of in-work support (Respondents could select all that applied)

There were 15 different types of in-work support that at least some survey participants recalled receiving. For example this included: being provided with support for training at workplace (15% recalled receiving), receiving help to deal with issue or concern while at work (14%) or having a discussion about how starting work will impact the person's benefits.

Survey of Year 4 FSS participants who started on a job while taking part in FSS service, Q1: What types of in-work support did you receive to support you to remain and progress at work? Please select as many as apply to you:", N = 360.

The two most common types of support FSS participants mentioned were a dedicated key worker (64% recall receiving this type of support) and one to one appointments with regular support from the key worker (53% recalled). Payment to cover travel costs to and from work in the first weeks after starting on a job (32%), payment to help buy work clothes (26%) and information about travel options (25%) were the next most commonly mentioned.

The three types of support participants recalled receiving least often were: an exit plan for leaving the Fair Start Scotland service (5%), help to facilitate workplace relationships such as talking to the manager on behalf of the person (5%) and assistance with a workplace adjustment and/or helped with accessibility issue (4%).

In addition 13% of survey participants reported that they were offered in-work support but did not take it up, while a further 7% did not recall receiving any offer of in-work support.

Survey respondents who indicated that they were offered in-work support but chose not to take it up were asked what the reasons were for this. Of the 45 survey participants who responded[8], most (32 participants) said the reason for this was that they only needed support with finding a job. Other reasons given by a small number of participants (5 or less) were that they didn't feel that the types of support would help them, they didn't get enough information on what types of in-work support were available and that they didn't feel that the types of support offered were adapted to their needs.

3.3 Views on usefulness of in-work support

All survey participants who recalled receiving at least one type of in-work support were asked if, overall, they thought that the in-work support they received helped them to remain and/or progress at work. Of these, 77% stated that in-work support had helped while 23% found the in-work support did not help them to remain and/or progress at work.

Those survey respondents who stated that the in-work support had helped them were then asked to describe how it had helped them.

The three most commonly mentioned aspects of in-work support that survey respondents found helpful were: regular contact, providing support and encouragement, and help with confidence.

"It helped me with my confidence and supported me when l needed someone to talk to. All the people l met were very supportive and understanding. It was like having a safety net."

"Regular calls from specialist work coach kept me motivated when it appeared overwhelming."

Several survey participants mentioned that being able to talk through any emerging issues helped them with worries and anxiety around starting a job.

"It has helped to keep my anxiety low so I feel more confident in my work place and able to deal with any problems that arise without feeling worried."

Many survey participants also highlighted that just knowing that there is support available if needed, for example to address any issues of problems that might emerge or to be able to talk things through with the key worker was beneficial as it provided "a safety net" and also help with confidence during the first months in work.

"It is very reassuring to know that support is still available whenever I need it."

"Given me confidence to know if there were problems at work I had help and support available."

In addition, several survey participants reported that they had been able to discuss emerging issues and work related concerns with their key worker which in turn helped them to stay in work.

"It helped me stay in work because if I had any concerns or worries about work and felt tempted to leave I was always reassured that it would be fine and I'm getting on great."

"Going from a long period of unemployment into employment and having someone available to discuss any issues definitely puts my mind at ease."

Receiving financial support to help with costs of travel to and from work as well as to buy work clothes was another type of support which was felt to be useful.

"Without help with travel costs I wouldn't have been able to get back and forward to my work resulting in me losing my job."

"I was offered the chance to buy additional clothing not supplied by my employer. This helped me getting back into employment and make the transition easier."

Finally, one survey participant mentioned that their key worker spoke to their employer on their behalf about their concern around starting in a new role.

"When I first started my job in childcare I had no experience but [FSS staff] spoke to my employer on my behalf about all my concern regarding my anxiety and confidence issues so I felt ready and up front and starting fresh they help with any concern I have."

3.4 Views on what FSS could do better to support those who started on a job

Participants were asked what the service could do better to support them once they started working. A range of suggestions were provided across a number of thematic areas. These are summarised below.

Ensuring everyone participating in the service get access to in-work support

Some survey participants highlighted that contact had dropped off or had ceased with no ongoing contact once they started on a job and others highlighted that they felt the contact they did receive didn't provide effective support.

"Offered me in work support instead of kicking me off the service."

"My contract has just ended and since it ended I've received no support at all."

"Actually support people instead messaging that once a month."

Providing access to better jobs and job progression

Some survey participants felt the available jobs were poor quality, for example in terms of staff turnover, working conditions, type of contract.

"Better if could offer more than just employer it's very limited and the employer needs vetting regarding staff turnover."

"How to develop and progress in order to secure better work or salary."

Providing access to better jobs and job progression

Some survey participants felt the available jobs were poor quality, for example in terms of staff turnover, working conditions, type of contract etc. Further, support to progress into better work was felt to be lacking by some.

"Better if could offer more than just employer it's very limited and the employer needs vetting regarding staff turnover."

"How to develop and progress in order to secure better work or salary."

"The service could support us in jobs we want either with help paying training for better jobs actually consider what the person wants and needs in stage and position in life."

Improving access to financial support and advice

Access to funds to pay for travel when starting work was felt to be something that would help.

"In the first month when I was waiting for my first wage I think it would have definitely helped me if I had a regular weekly payment to help with travel."

"It was said that if I bought clothes for work they would pay for them if I sent my receipt and I was ignored when I done this and never received money for these clothes."

"I still need to find out how much of my Universal Credit will be affected if I take in more hours."

Improving quality of support provided by the key worker including consistency

Some survey participants felt that not all key workers had the skills needed to provide effective support, including in the areas such as mental health or employment law. In addition, some survey participants indicated that their key worker changed too frequently.

"They simply ask 'how are you, how's the job'. Too feelings focused on not employment and progression focused. Ideal for some people but the one size fits all approach isn't effective at least not for me."

"Be more consistent. My dedicated support worker changed more than 5 times."

Providing better access to mental health support

Some survey participants mentioned that they experienced ill mental health while in work but did not receive support to address in through the service.

"Some sort of ongoing contact with health and wellbeing felt isolated when needed help and still do."

"Better support for the job I had but didn't get training for and was released from my contract when I had a slight mental health problem which I got no help for."

Contact

Email: EmployabilityResearch@gov.scot

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