Publication - Statistics

Scotland's Devolved Employment Services: statistical summary

Published: 24 Feb 2021

This publication presents statistics for Fair Start Scotland (FSS) from April 2018 to December 2020 and new experimental statistics on the No One Left Behind approach to employability delivery, reporting on those receiving support from April 2019 to March 2020.

Scotland's Devolved Employment Services: statistical summary
Fair Start Scotland (FSS)

Fair Start Scotland (FSS)

Introduction

Fair Start Scotland is the Scottish Government's devolved employability support service, and aims to help those further from the labour market to move into and sustain fair work. FSS launched on 3 April 2018 with funding to support up to 38,000 people into work over an initial three year referral period to end March 2021. In response to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, referral into the service has now been extended to March 2023.

FSS provides individualised one-to-one support to unemployed people who face the greatest challenges to obtaining work, including people with a disability or health condition, people with convictions, care-experienced young people, single parents, refugees, ethnic minorities, and people who live in some of the most deprived areas in Scotland. More information about the service can be found here.

Fair Start Scotland is delivered by a mixed economy of public, private and third sector providers across nine geographical areas throughout Scotland. Potential participants can engage with Fair Start Scotland in a variety of ways. A referral can be made by an individual's Jobcentre Plus (JCP) Work Coach. Alternatively, participants can be signposted to Fair Start Scotland through third party organisations or they can self-refer to their local provider if they meet specific criteria. Third-party referrals relate to referrals from outwith JCP.

After a referral is made, the participant is matched with a provider in their local area. The provider makes contact and offers an introduction in which the service is fully explained. The participant is then given the necessary information to engage with Fair Start Scotland.

How has COVID-19 impacted the delivery of Fair Start Scotland?

This publication includes data for FSS over a period from March 2020 onwards when the COVID-19 pandemic, associated public health measures and economic and labour market impacts have caused several changes which impact the statistics published here.

Key changes to FSS include the following:

1) Early in the pandemic, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refocused their work to deal with the increased demand for benefit claims, so FSS referrals from DWP were paused between April and June 2020.

2) As a result of this, there has been an increase in the proportion of referrals to FSS through other avenues, particularly from FSS providers' own marketing efforts.

3) FSS switched from face-to-face interaction to delivery via phone calls and online interaction. This has affected the equalities data collected, with fewer people who join FSS disclosing information on protected characteristics like ethnicity.

4) There was a relaxation of rules specifying how often participants must be in contact with providers, from March to September 2020. This meant that some people who would otherwise be considered to have left the service during this period stayed on FSS.

5) There were fewer job vacancies, making it harder for participants to start jobs and achieve sustained job outcomes. ONS data[3] shows a sharp reduction in job vacancies in Scotland after March 2020 to below 50% of the level seen in 2019, with a recovery throughout 2020 that remains at approximately 70% to 80% of the year before. However, after the first lockdown a reduction in job starts by FSS was only seen in April to June 2020, with a return to higher than previous levels by July.

How many people have joined FSS?

44,253 people were referred to FSS between its launch in April 2018 and the end of December 2020.

As set out above, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the referral process into FSS. The DWP pause on referrals from March to June 2020 will explain some of the drop in referrals to FSS in that period, illustrated in Figure 1 below. The 11% decrease in referrals in the latest quarter compared to the previous is at least partly due to seasonal effects, and is similar to the lower levels of referrals seen over the festive season in previous years.

Figure 1: Number of people referred into Fair Start Scotland by quarter of referral, from April 2018 to December 2020

Referrals to FSS decreased 11% from last quarter and 19% from a year ago

Of the total number of people referred to FSS, 29,473 went on to receive employability support. The start rate, the proportion of people referred who decide to join FSS, has changed over time. In the first quarter after launch it was 48%; this increased over the course of year 1, and then remained stable at around 70% over year 2. With the onset of COVID-19 pandemic at the start of year 3, the start rate increased to 85%, before falling back down to a level similar to that of year 2[4]. The most recent quarter shows a start rate of 70% (Figure 2). The changes in referral sources (described in the Introduction section) were highlighted as a possible reason for the increase in start rate during the period April – June 2020.

Figure 2: The percentage of people referred into Fair Start Scotland that join the service per quarter, from April 2018 to December 2020

Quarterly referral to start rates in FSS fell this quarter, to almost pre-COVID-19 levels

Note:

1. The October - December 2020 start rate is not complete yet and may rise further.

The Scottish Government's evaluation of the second year of the service[5] highlighted that compared to the unemployed population of Scotland there were some groups under-represented in FSS: women, people from minority ethnic backgrounds and young people; while a higher proportion of disabled people and older people used the service. This was the same in the first year of FSS[6].

The breakdown of equalities groups for FSS is shown in Figure 3. There have been changes in the demographic characteristics of those joining the service over time.

Overall, 37% of people who have joined FSS were women and 63% were men. The proportion of women has increased over time: from 35% in year 1, to 37% in year 2, 40% in the first and second quarters of year 3, and 43% in the most recent quarter.

The most common age group of people joining FSS was 35-49 years (28% of people), followed by 50 years old and over (25%), 25-34 years (24%), and 16-24 years (20%).

In both year 2 and year 3 so far, there were increases in the proportion of participants from the two younger age bands (16-34), and a decrease from the older age bands (35+). Participants aged 16-34 made up 38% of all starts in year 1, 44% in year 2, and 53% so far in year 3. In the most recent quarter, 50% of participants were aged 16-34, which is a decrease from a peak at 56% in April – June 2020. Participants aged 35 and over made up 60% of all starts in year 1, 52% in year 2, 46% in year 3 so far, and 49% in the most recent quarter.

Overall, 5% of people who have joined FSS were from minority ethnic backgrounds and 68% were white, with ethnicity unknown for the remaining 27% of participants. In the most recent quarter, 5% of participants were from a minority ethnic group and 74% of participants were white. The rate of unknowns increased in years 2 and 3 which has made ethnicity comparisons over time difficult[7]. However, the number of unknowns has decreased in the most recent quarter.

44% of people joining FSS reported a disability. The proportion of disabled participants decreased from year 1 to year 2: from 55% to 44%, and decreased further during the COVID-19 pandemic to 27% in April – June 2020. However in October – December 2020[8] the proportion of disabled people was 44%, similar to pre-pandemic levels.

65% of people joining FSS reported having a long-term health condition, 29% reported no long-term health condition, with the rest (7%) unknown.

Figure 3: Percentage of people joining Fair Start Scotland, broken down by equality characteristic group, from April 2018 to December 2020

More men, older and white people have joined FSS; 44% were disabled and 45% were not disabled

Figure 4 shows that the most common long-term health condition reported was mental health (35%). Between year 1 and 2 there was a 5 percentage point increase in people reporting a mental health condition among those joining FSS, from 31% to 36%. This varied between 36% and 38% in the the first three quarters of year 3.

The second most commonly reported type of health condition was a long-term illness, disease or condition, which affected 17% of people joining FSS and has remained close to this level over time. In the most recent quarter, the proportion was 20%, increasing from 15% in July – September 2020.

Physical disabilities were the third most common long-term health conditions reported. The number of people reporting a physical disability declined over time until April – June 2020 (14% in year 1, 10% in year 2, 5% in April – June 2020), and was 7% in the latest two quarters.

Figure 4: Percentage of people joining Fair Start Scotland who report long-term health conditions, broken down by type of long-term health condition, from April 2018 to December 2020

The long-term health conditions reported most in FSS are mental health conditions

How many people left FSS early?

Someone is defined as having left FSS early (an 'early leaver') if they leave FSS before the end of the pre-employment support period and without having sustained employment for at least 3 months. The pre-employment support period usually lasts for up to 1 year. In some cases, it can last up to 18 months, but this has only applied to a small number of people so far.

Overall, 11,664 people have left FSS early. As with job outcomes, as time goes on we get a more complete picture of numbers staying on FSS or leaving early. Where we have a complete picture 50% of people joining left the service early.

Figure 5 shows that the percentage of people leaving early was broadly similar for most of the equalities groups. However, the percentage was higher for those reporting a disability, particularly for those who have a long-term health condition that limits daily activities a lot (55% left early). The proportion of people leaving early was lower for those who had a long-term health condition that did not limit daily activities at all (43%).

Figure 5: Percentage of people that leave Fair Start Scotland early, broken down by equality characteristic group, from April 2018 to December 2020 [9][10]

More people limited a lot by their long-term health condition leave FSS early

How many people entered and sustained employment?

A total of 9,484 people who joined FSS have started a job.

COVID-19 has had an impact on the labour market, and the number of job vacancies[11] available.

Figure 6 has been included to show changes in FSS job starts since COVID-19 restrictions began in March 2020. There was a substantial reduction in job starts in April 2020, followed by increases in May and June, but still remaining below previous levels. Job starts in April – June 2020 were 20% lower than the same period in 2019. However, by August 2020 the number of job starts was the highest for any month of FSS, and in the July – September 2020 period job starts were 10% higher than the same period in 2019. This high level of job starts continued until November 2020. Some or all of the decrease in December is likely to be seasonal: drops in job starts were also seen in December 2018 and 2019.

Figure 6: Number of people starting work after joining Fair Start Scotland, by the month job was started, from April 2019 to December 2020

A big drop in job starts was seen in December. December drops were also seen in 2018 & 2019

Of the 9,484 people who started work, 5,567 had sustained employment for at least 3 months (13 weeks), 3,720 were employed for at least 6 months (26 weeks), and 2,135 were employed for at least 12 months (52 weeks), as of December 2020.

Job outcome rates can only be reported for start cohorts where enough time has passed in pre employment support and for outcomes to be achieved. These show:

  • most people who started FSS did not enter work or go on to sustain employment: 33% started a job, 24% sustained employment for 3 months, 19% sustained employment for 6 months, and 13% sustained employment for 12 months[12]
  • however, high levels of those starting jobs sustain them: 72% of people starting jobs went on to sustain employment for 3 months, 79% of the people who sustained employment for 3 months went on to reach 6 months, and 77% of those who sustained employment for 6 months went on to reach at least 12 months

Figures 7, 8, 9 and 10 show how the rates of job starts and outcomes compare between different equality groups.

The rates of job starts and outcomes did not show a large difference by gender, though slightly more outcomes were achieved by women. For both men and women, 33% started a job. 3 month job outcomes were achieved by 25% of women and 23% of men; 6 month job outcomes were achieved by 20% of women and 18% of men; 12 month outcomes were achieved by 15% of women and 13% of men.

The biggest differences in job start and outcomes rates were observed in age and long-term health conditions, which are often related. 38% of 16-24 year olds started work after joining FSS, compared with 28% of those aged 50 plus – a difference of 10 percentage points. Differences are also seen in the proportions of people sustaining employment at 3 months (27% for 16-24; 21% for 50+), 6 months (20% and 17%) and 12 months (16% and 11%).

22% of those with a long-term health condition that limited daily activities a lot went on to start work, compared to 40% of those with a health condition that did not limit daily activities. The difference between these two groups was also observed in the proportions of people sustaining employment at 3 months (16% for those limited a lot, and 27% for those not limited at all), 6 months (13% and 21%) and 12 months (9% and 16%) sustained employment.

36% of minority ethnic participants went on to start work, which is 3 percentage points higher than white participants, 33% of whom went on to start work. The gap for 3 month outcomes is 4 percentage points higher for minority ethnic participants and for 6 month outcomes it is 3 percentage points higher. The difference widens further for 12 month outcomes, with a difference of 6 percentage points. Thus 19% of minority ethnic participants sustained a job for 12 months compared to 13% of white participants.

Figure 7: Percentage of people starting work after joining Fair Start Scotland, broken down by equality characteristic group [13][14]

More young and minority ethnic people, and non-disabled people, started work

Figure 8: Percentage of people staying in work for 3 months after joining Fair Start Scotland, broken down by equality characteristic group [15]

More young and minority ethnic people, and non-disabled people, stayed in work for 3 months

Figure 9: Percentage of people staying in work for 6 months after joining Fair Start Scotland, broken down by equality characteristic group [16]

More young and minority ethnic people, and non-disabled people, stayed in work for 6 months

Figure 10: Percentage of people staying in work for 12 months after joining Fair Start Scotland, broken down by equality characteristic group [17]

More minority ethnic and non-disabled people, and fewer people aged 50+, stayed in work for 12 months


Contact

Email: EmployabilityData@gov.scot