Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) is the Scottish Government's strategic national partnership framework for responding to redundancy situations. Skills Development Scotland (SDS) leads on the delivery of PACE on behalf of the Scottish Government, in conjunction with a number of key partners including the Department for Work and Pensions. The Ministerial PACE Partnership brings 22 organisations together with the Scottish Government to oversee a continuous improvement programme to enhance the operation of PACE.
PACE is delivered primarily through 18 local PACE Partnerships each operating with a high level of local flexibility and independence. SDS coordinates and chairs each local partnership; although membership varies across different areas depending on the local organisational and delivery context. Through its partners, PACE delivers a wide range of support to employers and employees going through the process of redundancy including:
- Employment rights;
- Financial and pensions advice;
- Benefits advice;
- Careers Information;
- Advice and Guidance;
- CV and job search support;
- Employability and vocational training support; and
- Support to manage stress.
Recent research among PACE clients suggests that positive employment outcomes are at an all-time high. Eight out of ten PACE customers had found a job or become self-employed following redundancy; most within six months. Overall satisfaction continues to be high, with customers finding individual services relevant to their needs. However, timeliness of the PACE services is an ongoing issue, with a quarter of customers feeling that the support from PACE is being delivered too late to meet their needs.
Hall Aitken were commissioned by Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Government to deliver a qualitative research study looking at the customer experience of individuals who have recently been made redundant. This covers both those who have received support through PACE and those who have not received any PACE support.
The aims and objectives of the study were to:
- Explore the customer journey taken by PACE customers and non-PACE customers;
- Identify the needs of the individuals at different stages of the customer journey;
- Gain an understanding as to why some individuals have decided against accessing support;
- Explore what the key influences are on how they progress, and how these influences affect outputs.;
- Identify where in that journey PACE support/private sector support currently fits and whether this comes at the right time in their journey;
- Determine how well the current PACE/private sector support meets the needs of those who have recently been made redundant;
- Determine how well PACE support met customer expectations and identify any gaps in current PACE provision;
- Identify what private sector service does well and what PACE could learn from them; and
- Make recommendations on how to develop PACE support to improve service and increase its appeal and relevance.
This research aims to build on the insights drawn out in the bi-annual PACE Client Experience Survey and provide a more in-depth understanding of how individuals experience redundancy to help shape and inform future services.
However, many individuals who have been made redundant do not engage with PACE. This is either because they use a private provider funded by their employer, or they may decide not to access support of any kind. A key objective of this study was to engage with non-PACE customers as a way of increasing the knowledge base on how best to support people who have been made redundant.
This is a qualitative research study which aims to gather an in-depth and rich narrative about the issues surrounding redundancy. It is based mainly on qualitative interviews carried out with individuals across Scotland who had been made redundant since April 2018. A total of 23 semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted across three target groups:
- Those who have recently been made redundant and used PACE (7)
- Those who have recently been made redundant and used an alternative redundancy service (4)
- Those who have recently been made redundant and not used any service at all (12)
In addition, six representatives from local PACE Partners were interviewed, including SDS PACE advisers and staff from DWP Jobcentres to gather insights from their perspective as to how customers navigate the redundancy process.
Participants were recruited using the following methods:
- PACE clients were recruited using information provided by Skills Development Scotland.
- Non-PACE clients were recruited using an advertisement shared across social media channels (Twitter and LinkedIn).
- PACE Partner representatives were identified by Skills Development Scotland.
One requirement of this research was to engage with a broad range of individuals across age, gender, geographical location, skill level, sector and company size. While the sample achieved a broad cross-section of interviewees, none were aged under 25 and there was an over-representation of those in higher level occupations. Factors which may have influenced this include using Twitter and LinkedIn to recruit non-PACE participants, the reach of the social media advert, and the self-selecting nature of the research which may have attracted participants who have an interest in taking part. More information around the demographics of the participants involved in the research is included in Appendix A.
The report includes quotes from participants to bring the customer experience to life, and more detailed case study examples are in Appendix B. Names and other personal details have been changed to protect the anonymity of the individuals.
After the interviews were completed some participants mentioned that they enjoyed the interview and being given an opportunity to speak about their experience, indicating that it was quite a cathartic experience for them. This highlights the importance of giving people an opportunity to speak about their situation as a way of coming to terms with it and gaining a more positive outlook.
Following this introductory section, the remainder of the report is structured as follows:
- Exploring the customer journey: looks at the stages of the customer journey and the needs that those made redundant experience at each stage.
- How well services meet needs: looks at the extent to which services accessed through PACE and private sector provision meet identified needs.
- Key influencers of outcomes: looks at the main factors that determine what customers need, how they access services, and whether they are able to get the support they need to get back into employment.
- Key findings and recommendations: highlights the key strengths of the different elements of PACE and private sector provision, identifies gaps, and where services could be strengthened.