No One Left Behind: review of employability services

Steps the Scottish Government will take to develop an employability system which is flexible, joined-up and responsive.

Continuing the Alignment of Scotland's Employability System

" developing and improving on the structures and systems which we already have in Scotland, we can have an integrated, and cohesive system…"[2]
– Scottish Government’s Independent Adviser on Race Equality in Scotland 'Addressing Race Inequality in Scotland: The Way Forward’

The Scotland Act 2016 devolved employment support powers to Scotland, which are now being delivered from April 2018 through Fair Start Scotland (FSS). FSS is a voluntary service focused on people who are further removed from the labour market, and has core values of treating people with fairness, dignity and respect. FSS is an important first step towards the Scottish Government’s vision of joined-up, flexible and responsive employability support in Scotland. Delivering devolved employability services on an ongoing basis is now a cornerstone of employability support in Scotland.

Together with our partners we want to build on the successful implementation of Fair Start Scotland by taking a new approach to our other employability provision to deliver the objectives we outlined in No One Left Behind and to respond to what we have heard during the review and over recent years. Our evidence base tells us that to deliver on our overarching purpose, our employability system must be shaped so that it:

  • provides flexible and person-centred support;
  • is more straightforward for people to navigate;
  •  s better integrated and aligned with other services, in particular, with health, justice and housing provision;
  • provides pathways into sustainable and fair work;
  • is funded in a simple and co-ordinated way;
  • is driven by evidence, including data and the experience of users; and
  • supports more people – particularly those facing multiple barriers – to move into the right job, at the right time.

This review, and the publication of No One Left Behind, gives us the opportunity to work collectively with service users, Local Government, the Third Sector, private providers and employers to design, develop and deliver improvements to the system.

In reviewing Scottish Government funded Employability programmes over the last few months, we have listened to a range of people and organisations, including people who rely on employability support, about the importance of developing a flexible and responsive system, capable of supporting people in ways that work for them. We believe change in this direction, developed within a national framework, but designed and delivered to reflect local need, is vital to more effectively tackle the challenges of long-term unemployment and inactivity, as well as building an employment support system that is responsive and flexible enough to meet future labour market challenges.

FSS will provide tailored, person centred support to a minimum of 38,000 people over its three year referral period (2018-2021). FSS is the first step towards a much wider Scottish Government vision of a more aligned, effective and responsive employability support in Scotland. To take FSS beyond 2021, the Scottish Government aims to build policy, programme, partnership and funding alignment with its employability delivery partners in Scotland.

Next Steps

Our intention, building on what we’ve heard through the experience of delivering FSS and the employability review, and the evidence that has built up over the last few years, is to make the following improvements to the system:

We will work with local authorities to integrate investment in Activity Agreements and the Scottish Employer Recruitment Incentive, into a new local employability delivery model managed collaboratively between Scottish Government and Local Government from April 2019.

  A comprehensive delivery and funding arrangement, with clear governance and accountability structures, will take more time to deliver, but over time, funding for other programmes, such as the Employability Fund and Community Jobs Scotland will be integrated into this model, through a process which will involve other partners in the planning and delivery of services.

  • We will work with local authorities and partners to develop and introduce a collectively agreed national outcomes and measurement framework that enables front line service providers – public, private and third sector – to align their activity and deliver more flexible services to the people that need them most and enable consistent measurement of their effectiveness. Alongside this framework, we will develop the thinking on how people who rely on these services can influence how they are developed, and how they are delivered.
  • Working with Skills Development Scotland, Local Government and other partners, we will explore the feasibility of developing the national all-age employment support offer, developing existing digital careers and employability platforms, alongside improved alignment with health and other services.
  • Building on the employability innovation and integration fund and integration activity in No One Left Behind, we will continue to work at local, regional and national level to improve the join up between employability services and other provision, focussing on health (including mental health), housing and justice.
  • Building on the success of improvement collaboratives across the public sector, we will invest in, and build, a similar commitment to collaborative improvement, innovation and user-led design across the employability sector.

This is an important and ambitious agenda for the future prosperity of Scotland. Constructive and effective partnership working across the employability system is essential for us to deliver on our ambitions, and the ambitions of our delivery partners and stakeholders. It will be important that throughout the design and development of this new delivery model, we are clear on what success will look like, how it can be achieved given the complex and interconnected nature of this work, and how we can best support people looking to find work, and to stay in work.

As a key first step, we will work with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to collectively agree a new Partnership Working Agreement in Employability to positively shape and join up employability provision nationally and to deliver it locally. We will work jointly with local authorities and other key partners, including the third sector, other employability providers and communities, to collaborate more closely to design services so that the people we collectively serve are better placed to realise their potential in the labour market.

Active and ongoing consultation and engagement with partners has underpinned the development and delivery of FSS. This will continue, and we will consult and engage with stakeholders including service providers, delivery partners, third sector organisations and service users to inform and influence policy direction in the next steps of design and delivery of future provision of employability services in Scotland.

In addition to current and ongoing mechanisms of engagement, we will bring together a new stakeholder group early next year to provide external expertise, advice, challenge and leadership on the direction of employment support in Scotland. This will ensure the views of service users and other experts are accurately captured and listened to, and provide challenge on the aims and outcomes of Fair Start Scotland, but also in influencing the design and development of our future employability provision in Scotland.

In the following section we set out in further detail the main recommendations we – together with our partners – will be taking forward through this review.

Developing a Local Delivery Model - Collaboration to Deliver Person Centred Approaches

The investments we have made in national services such as the Employability Fund have made an important contribution in helping to deliver significant improvements for many groups, such as young people. We now have one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe and met our Developing Scotland Young Workforce target four years early. Given these changes, but also the enduring labour market challenges that remain for many equality groups, it is right that our system continues to evolve.

As we set out in the Programme for Government (2018), we will develop a new delivery model built around funding provided to local areas to enable resources to be deployed to better meet service user needs and complement local investment.

This new approach will learn from our previous experiences and build on these, enabling us to better align national and local government funding and in doing so simplify how resources enter the system. We will achieve this by working together with local partners to develop a new local delivery model which will, over time, integrate current national programmes into one funding stream which will be managed collaboratively between Scottish Government and Local Government and involve other partners, including the third sector and private training providers, in the planning and delivery of services. The development of this new model will then be aligned to the process of future development of Fair Start Scotland.

This reform of employability funding will take time to deliver. It must be developed in collaboration with Local Government and partners, managed carefully to ensure continuation of support and stability within the sector, and effectively aligned with other funding streams. We will take a phased approach to aligning current national programmes, giving us time to develop a model of delivery that balances national coherence with local flexibility and provides transparency and accountability for delivery whilst maintaining our drive to align funding. The programmes that are in scope for inclusion in these discussions are:

  • Scottish Employer Recruitment Incentive
  • Activity Agreements
  • Community Jobs Scotland
  • 14-19 Fund
  • Discovering Your Potential
  • Employability Fund

To ensure the new model delivers on our shared ambition for an employability system that is more joined up, flexible, and responsive, we will work towards developing a partnership working agreement with Local Government, through which we can:

  • develop and agree delivery geographies, along with a transition plan;
  • develop a funding methodology that reflects an overall national coherence and availability, the evidenced user demand, and geographical issues;
  • develop a proportionate and delivery focussed approach to governance and success measures that will ensure the new model delivers value for money and that resources are deployed based on service needs;
  • develop a collaborative approach to designing and delivering the new model that brings together the best public, third and private sector expertise; and
  • explore how Scottish Government could commit to multi-year funding levels to bring added stability, continue to develop the skilled employability workforce, and simplify administrative and reporting requirements.
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