Partnership Action for Continuing Employment: client experience survey 2022
Research into the experiences of clients receiving redundancy support services through Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE). This research is the seventh iteration of research assessing client experiences of PACE.
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1 Executive Summary
Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) is the Scottish Government’s national strategic framework for responding to redundancy situations. PACE aims to minimise the time people affected by redundancy are out of work through providing skills development and employability support.
This report details findings from research into the experiences of clients receiving redundancy support services through PACE. This research is the seventh iteration of research assessing client experiences of PACE.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, work outcomes in the 2022 survey have improved compared to previous studies. The proportion of participants who have secured work before or after their redundancy has improved and is now at 89%, compared to 81% in 2020 and 80% in 2018. Of those that had secured work among the new client group, the majority had found work which required at least the same, or higher, level of skills (70%) and either the same or higher level of responsibility (64%). The majority of clients (55%) had found work with at least the same level of pay.
In 2022, the most commonly accessed resource was information about training and funding sources (61%, in line with 62% in 2020), while there was a reduction in the proportion that accessed some services between 2020 and 2022. Most notably, around half (49%) said they accessed the PACE presentation and information pack, a significant drop from 81% in 2020, likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic and move to online delivery modes.
Looking to longer-term outcomes, the proportion of clients from the 2022 longitudinal survey that had secured work remained high (94%, similar to 93% in the 2020 longitudinal cohort). Outcomes in terms of the skills requirements, levels of responsibly and pay levels improved over time for these clients. Three quarters (76%) of clients followed up in 2022 would recommend PACE to people going through redundancy. This is similar to the 81% in 2020 and 75% in 2018 that said they would do so.
Profile and characteristics of individuals accessing PACE services
- In a change from previous iterations of the survey, in order to improve the representativeness of survey findings, weighting was applied to new survey data in 2022. This ensured findings were representative of the population of PACE clients accessing services between January 2020 and January 2022 by age, gender and whether services were accessed before or after lockdown. Further details on the profile and characteristics of clients accessing PACE services can be found in Appendix A.
The extent to which clients access specific PACE services on offer
- In 2022, the most commonly accessed resource was information about training and funding sources (61%, in line with 62% in 2020). Other commonly accessed services were the PACE presentation and information pack (49%), help with CVs, applications, and letters (42%), and benefits information (39%).
- Although the most commonly used services mirrored previous years, the proportion of clients accessing some of these services had fallen since 2020. Most notably, around half (49%) said they accessed the PACE presentation and information pack, a significant drop from 81% in 2020. This is likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic and move to online delivery modes, with more of those whose first engagement with PACE was prior to the first lockdown in March 2020 having received the PACE presentation and information pack (77%) than compared with those whose first engagement was afterwards (45%).
- Despite this reduction in the proportion of clients that accessed some services, awareness of PACE has increased over the last two years. In 2022, 27% of clients had a prior awareness of PACE services before their redundancy, an increase of 5 percentage points from 22% in 2020. While there is no conclusive data on what is driving this additional awareness, this may be due to an increase in publicity. For example, among those aware of PACE prior to accessing services, a higher proportion said they became aware of PACE through advertising than in 2020 (14% compared to 5% in 2020).
Views on the relevance, usefulness and timeliness of PACE services used, as well as satisfaction with service delivery
- Overall satisfaction with PACE services remains high despite a major increase in services being moved to online and telephone delivery (rather than face-to-face) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, an average of 86% of clients reporting being satisfied across all services, a proportion unchanged from the 2020 client survey (also 86%).
- Services also continue to be perceived as relevant by over three-quarters of PACE clients (78% felt services were relevant on average, which is again unchanged from 78% in 2020). The PACE services perceived to be most relevant were: help with understanding tax responsibilities (87%), help with CVs, applications and letters (85%), help with pensions from Pension Wise (84%) and mental health/wellbeing support (84%).
- Respondents also continued to feel positive about the timeliness of PACE support: three-quarters or more of clients were satisfied with the timeliness of PACE services, feeling that the timing was ‘perfect’ or ‘about right’ for each service. The proportion of clients reporting at least one PACE service was delivered too late has decreased over time from 31% in 2014, 30% in 2016, 25% in 2018, 23% in 2020, down to 21% in 2022. Only four per cent of respondents in 2022 felt that any service was received too early.
- In a new addition to the 2022 survey, clients were invited to indicate their preferred format for the delivery of services. For each service, between 45% and 64% of clients expressed a preference for face-to-face delivery, and this was more common for advice services such as: advice on business start-up (64%), support with mental health and wellbeing (61%) and the money advice service (61%). A preference for face-to-face delivery was also much more common amongst older clients (aged 50 plus).
- Clients were also asked to feedback on the new online webinars and pre-recorded content. Among those who had used PACE services from 13th January 2021 (when webinars were made available), 19% of clients said they had engaged with these online services, whereas half (50%) were unaware they existed. The clients who had engaged reported high levels of satisfaction with this content (91% satisfied, including 43% who were very satisfied).
The influence of PACE on individuals’ progression into learning and employment, as well as the extent of ‘softer’ benefits to individuals’ lives
- The proportion of participants who have secured work before or after their redundancy has improved at 89%, compared to 81% in 2020 and 80% in 2018. The majority of these (77%) had secured work post-redundancy and 12% secured work prior to their redundancy.
- Of those that had secured work, the majority had found work which required at least the same, or higher, level of skills (70%) and either the same or higher level of responsibility (64%). The majority of clients (55%) had found work with at least the same level of pay, however it was most common for workers to say their pay levels had decreased (43% in 2022, which is consistent with 43% in 2020).
- Of those that had secured work post-redundancy, just under three-quarters (73%) had done so within six months; a decrease from 2020 where 91% had secured new employment within six months. This decrease is possibly due to the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Clients are positive about the impact of PACE on their employment outcomes, around half (45%) of clients felt that PACE had helped them to at least some extent in securing employment. These results are broadly consistent with 2020, when 46% of clients said PACE helped.
- Clients were asked to rate the influence of PACE on their mental health and wellbeing, skills needed to apply for job, confidence in getting a job, and career prospects. The aspect that clients most improved in was their confidence in getting a job, with 43% reporting an improvement. This was followed by 38% of clients who reported an improvement in their overall career prospects and the skills needed to apply for jobs, and a third (33%) saw an improvement in their mental health and wellbeing.
- Longer-term outcomes also continue to be positive for PACE clients. Amongst those clients that were first interviewed in 2020 and followed up again in 2022 (up to four years after redundancy), more than nine in ten (94%) clients had secured any post-redundancy work. This is similar to the 93% that had done so in the 2020 cohort, but more than in 2018 (88%). Younger clients were more likely to have secured full-time, permanent work, which remains consistent with findings from previous PACE surveys.
- A notable proportion of clients (53%) responding to the longitudinal survey found post-redundancy work (or self-employment) in a different industry to the role from which they were made redundant; this is similar to the proportion in 2020 (51%). Conversely, just under half of those that secured work had found work in the same industry (25%) or a broadly similar industry (22%); this is similar to 22% and 26% respectively in 2020.
- Mirroring results from the 2020 longitudinal survey, while the first job secured following redundancy tended to require lower level of skills, responsibilities and/or pay, these aspects tended to improve in the longer term, after moving into another role. This suggests some clients may have initially taken a job requiring a lower level of skills, responsibilities and/or pay as a stopgap measure, prior to finding a more suitable role.
- Clients tend to be positive about the longer-term impact of PACE on their employment outcomes, with just under half of clients (45%) who secured a paid job with an employer post-redundancy reporting that PACE had helped them move back into employment, six per cent saying PACE made all the difference, and two in five (39%) saying PACE helped to some extent. More than half (54%) indicated that PACE made no difference in moving back into employment.
- For clients who entered education or training post-redundancy, the proportion in the longitudinal study reporting that PACE helped them move into this education or training was lower than in 2020 or 2018. A quarter (26%) of clients in 2022 described PACE as helping them move into education or training, compared to three in ten in 2020 (30%) and 2018 (31%).
Recommendations for ongoing development
- Overall, the survey findings continue to be positive with a higher proportion of new clients securing work and sustained high levels of employment for clients that participated in the longitudinal survey. To assist with PACE’s commitment to continuous improvement, the research identifies further areas for ongoing development.
- Though the proportion of clients securing work remains high, the results suggest that new clients are taking longer to secure work than in the 2020 survey. This may partly be an impact of the immediate economic uncertainty at the start of the pandemic. It is therefore important through future surveys to monitor how quickly clients are able to secure work as the economy recovers, and consider steps to help clients secure work more quickly.
- The introduction of webinars has been positively received overall; nine in ten clients that had accessed them were satisfied with them. However, there is still a relatively low proportion of clients accessing this offering, with only around a fifth of clients accessing them since they were introduced. It will be important to continue to raise awareness of, and attendance at, webinars in order to further improve service delivery.
- Face-to-face delivery is the preferred format for the majority of clients across many PACE
- services, however there are still substantial proportions of clients that prefer access to each service by phone or online. It is also notable that a greater proportion of younger clients prefer online access to certain services, compared with older clients, and the opposite is true in terms of face-to-face contact. With this in mind, it is important that PACE establishes which formats of delivery clients prefer and allows them to access services via their preferred channels of contact.
- There has been a large reduction in the proportion of clients receiving the PACE presentation and information pack. This appears to be related to changes in services since COVID-19 (around three-quarters accessed this service pre-lockdown in March 2020, compared with 45% post-lockdown). The PACE presentation and information pack has historically been the most utilised PACE service.
- Those engaging with PACE support continue to be mostly White British males. While we saw in the previous survey that PACE had engaged with an increasing number of under-represented groups (such as women, young people and those in lower-socioeconomic categories), this year falls were seen among most of these groups. Most notably the proportion engaging from the lowest socio-economic category had halved. Further research is recommended to help understand the drop in underrepresented groups accessing PACE and to help plan future development work in this area.
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