We have entered an exciting and important period for employability in Scotland. Devolved employment support powers were exercised from April 2017, through Work First and Work Able Scotland and our new devolved employment support service, Fair Start Scotland, will be in place from April 2018. Fair Start Scotland will focus on providing support to people who are further removed from the labour market helping them to find work and treating them with fairness, dignity and respect.
Our Labour Market Strategy (2016) sets out our belief that a strong and fair labour market is vital if Scotland is to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. Helping more people into work is a critical part of that and while Fair Start Scotland has been designed to help those further from the labour market, it is just one of a number of levers that is required to provide more effective employability support.
I want the Scottish approach to employability to be one that focuses on the needs of the individual first and foremost, one that builds on an individual's strengths and recognises their ambitions, giving them the right support, when they need it, to help to improve their life chances.
At its heart, our approach will require more effective integration and alignment of support and services. This will need all those involved to work more closely together to simplify the current landscape and deliver better outcomes for those people who face significant barriers to accessing work.
I am aware that there is already impressive work happening across Scotland to this end.
I want us to build on this work, by sharing best practice, by utilising the strengths of existing national and local services to make the current landscape easier to navigate, and ensuring that organisations work together to provide the support people need to help them to achieve their potential.
In August 2017, I announced that 13 projects operating across 18 local authority areas will receive funding from our £2.5 million Employability Innovation and Integration Fund to test new local approaches that will join up employability support with health and social care, justice and housing services.
Embedding this approach is a long term agenda. This plan sets out the next steps we will take to deliver more effective and joined up employability support across Scotland. It also starts a wider discussion with partners on how we continue to build a more straightforward and person-centred system of support.
The actions we are taking and the discussion that we are starting will need to be taken forward in close collaboration with our key partners. I am grateful for the contribution from Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development Group, NHS Health Scotland, Skills Development Scotland, and the Scottish Prison Service, who worked in partnership with us to develop and deliver the ambitions in this plan.
Minister for Employability and Training