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.

4. Survey 2: Views and experiences of re-joining FSS

A change to the eligibility criteria for joining the FSS service was introduced at the beginning of Year 4 of FSS delivery (April 2021) to allow those who already taken part in the service, to re-join. This meant some of those who started on the service from Year 4 onwards, could have past experience of taking part and receiving support from FSS.

The aim of this survey was to find out more about the experiences of those who re-joined FSS (see section 1.2 for details of eligibility criteria for re-joining).

There were two key areas we aimed to find out more about:

  • participants' reasons for re-joining
  • if participants perceived any change to how the service was delivered compared to the first time they took part

4.1 Reasons for re-joining

Figure 4 shows reasons survey participants gave for re-joining the FSS service. More than one reason could be selected. The most commonly reported reason was needing a little bit more support to help with finding a job, mentioned by 36% of respondents. Requiring support to find a new job after the previous job came to an end was the next most common reason reported (20%).

In addition, 18% of survey participants cited either mental health or physical health related reasons as to why they had not been able to participate in FSS in the past and now wanted to re-join. The end of Covid-19 restrictions was mentioned by 13% of respondents as a reason for re-joining.

Figure 4: Reasons for re-joining the service (respondents could select all that applied)

Survey participants could select from 11 different reasons for re-joining the service. For example this included: 'due to mental health reasons I was no longer able to participate in the service but now feel ready to re-join' (12% of survey  participants selected this option) or 'now that Covid restrictions have been removed, I want to start look for a job again (13% of survey participants selected this option).

Source: Survey of FSS participants who re-joined the service in Year 4, Q1: Why did you choose to re-join the service? Please select as many as apply to you:", N = 247.

4.2 Perceived changes to the FSS service since re-joining

Survey participants were asked whether they had noticed any changes or difference to how FSS is being delivered since they re-joined. Most participants said they had not noticed any changes (42%) or didn't know/found it hard to say (38%). One-fifth (20%) of respondents reported noticing changes.[9]

Survey participants who reported noticing changes to the delivery of FSS since they re-joined were asked to describe what changes they noticed. Of the 44 responses to this question, several highlighted changes in the amount and quality of support available after re-joining the service. For example, one participant commented that they felt they received better support as their barriers to employment were better understood by FSS staff.

"I felt there was better support for participant's this time around than last time I joined. I felt there was a better understanding of the barriers I was experiencing when I was looking for employment. The trainer's where nice to talk to."

Similarly, another survey participant commented that they felt more listened to than the first time round.

"I'm unsure if it was the person I was with or an overall change but they were a lot easier to just chat with about daily things and more relaxed when it came to job searching which really helped me take the time to understand and find a job I wanted."

Some participants also pointed to the improvement in the office spaces and facilities such as access to the computers on-site for job search.

"They have new offices which seem to be more spacious. Also, they have more employees which means they should be able to spend more time if required with clients on a one-to-one basis."

Availability of more personalised support and a wider range of courses and training was also highlighted by some survey participants.

"More one to one support. Range of courses available."

Not all responses pointed towards improvement in quantity or quality of support available. Some replies described more negative changes such fewer key workers being available, no group activities or a lack of adequate support in general.

"I noticed that there weren't as many options available and the staff or maybe the system were a bit disorganised and negatively."

Another key theme was that of changes to the mode of delivery of the support resulting from Covid-19 related restrictions. Some survey participants indicated that they now receive phone calls rather than having face-to-face appointments which they do not find as beneficial.

"Don't feel it is as good hate not having face to face meetings as don't cope well having to do online meetings."

Another survey participant commented that they welcomed a return to face-to-face appointments.

"Much better as I have face to face meetings compared to phone appointments due to Covid restrictions."


Email: EmployabilityResearch@gov.scot

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