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Q. What is Fair Start Scotland?

A) Fair Start Scotland is Scotland's first fully devolved employment support service. It aims to support a minimum of 38,000 people, including those further removed from the labour market who want help to find and stay in work.

Fair start Scotland delivers delivers one of the first powers to be devolved under the 2016 Scotland Act, providing flexible and tailored support that is responsive to the needs of unemployed people and businesses across Scotland. It is an opportunity to deliver a Scottish approach to employment support that is more flexible, and responsive to a changing labour market, tackling labour market inequalities and growing Scotland's economy by helping more people into work.

Q. What makes Fair Start Scotland (FSS) different?

A) Fair Start Scotland (FSS) is entirely voluntary for people to participate, which means that people can choose to take part without fear of benefit sanctions if they are not able to attend. 

Fairness, dignity and respect between provider and participant is at the heart of the service.

Fair Start Scotland:

  • Has been developed by listening to the views of people who rely on employment support.
  • Is funded by the Scottish Government
  • Is delivered in 9 areas across Scotland, reflecting the reality of Scotland's geography, regional economies and population spread
  • Encourages Service Providers to commit to the Fair Work, Workforce and Community Benefits agendas (for example by promoting living wage employment, no use of zero hours contracts or umbrella companies and supporting the Scottish Business Pledge).   
  • Includes an offer of supported employment - an internationally recognised 'place and  train' model enabling disabled people to learn on the job with support from colleagues and a job coach.  Individual Placement and Support will be available for those with severe and enduring mental health problems.   
  • It creates opportunity for supported businesses. The 'West' Lot was reserved exclusively for supported businesses - the highest value supported business contract awarded so far by Scottish Ministers (up to £8.8M over 2018 - 2021).   

Q. Who is delivering Fair Start Scotland?

A) The Minister for Employability and Training awarded contracts in October 2017 to providers and delivery partners who will deliver Fair Start Scotland. This recognised the strengths a mixed economy of third, private and public sector partners to deliver better outcomes for unemployed people in Scotland. There are nine Contract Areas and further details of these can found here

Q. What was the rationale for the 9 Contract Areas?

A) The nine Contract Areas reflect Scotland's geography, labour market and local economy areas, and existing delivery boundaries. It was determined following  substantial stakeholder engagement, both through the 2015' consultation 'Creating a Fairer Scotland: Employability Support' and a number of supplier engagement events in late 2016. During this engagement we presented and tested proposals and options on the local delivery of devolved employment services.

We sought to:

  • Build on feedback from the market testing events at the end of 2016 which helped to inform our preferred option;
  • Ensure the Contract Areas were of sufficient scale that they will be commercially attractive and support efficient and effective delivery, while reflecting Scotland's geographical differences.
We will of course monitor and review the effectiveness of these structures in relation to both performance within the devolved service and emerging issues, such as City Deals in Scotland. We believe the nine Contract Areas based on LA boundaries create a strong foundation for delivery from 2018 and developing our approach in future.

Q. How will you attract people to a voluntary service?

A) The voluntary nature of our services represents a distinctly Scottish approach to employability support, and a departure from the largely mandatory approach which has been a feature of previous UK programmes. 

Given the participation levels in DWP's Work Choice and the Work Programme, we know there are sufficient number of people who would be eligible to participate in Fair Start Scotland. 

We have supported the development of  marketing materials for Jobcentre Plus work coaches in Scotland to raise awareness and stimulate referrals.  We are also working closely with Providers to ensure that they are developing a range of marketing materials and that these are adapted for different audiences and are made available in locations across communities.  We are also encouraging them to use their networks and media including social media to raise awareness of the service.

Q. What are you doing to integrate Fair Start Scotland with other services and support?

A) Fair Start Scotland providers will build and maintain working relationships with key stakeholder organisations and groups to help provide effective and joined up support for participants.

In addition, Fair Start Scotland will integrate with some of the services and support referenced in the actions in the Employability Integration and Alignment Plan published on 27 March joining up employability provision with health, justice, and housing.  For example, the Single Health and Work Gateway will link with Fair Start Scotland so disabled people or people with health conditions who face barriers to work and are eligible for Fair Start Scotland are referred to the right place.  And we will collaborate with the Scottish Prison Service to develop new routes into employment services including Fair Start Scotland that will help support more people with a conviction to find and sustain work.

Q. Why have you published an Employability Integration and Alignment Plan?

A) The Plan marks for the first time what our approach is to deliver more effective and joined-up employability support across Scotland. Fair Start Scotland is just one of a number of levers that will provide more effective employment support for people, and in turn, create a fairer labour market and more inclusive growth.   Better integration and alignment of the various employability initiatives that are on offer by the Scottish Government, its agencies and partners and others is a vital part of our ambition to tackle labour market inequalities and help more people into work. 

Q. What other support does the Scottish Government have in place to help those who cannot access devolved employability provision?

A) Our transitional arrangements delivered over 2017/18 and Fair Start Scotland which commences in April 2018 are only part of a number of Scottish Government employment support offers which operate in Scotland. That is why the integration and alignment agenda is so important. It's important we ensure services are properly aligned to support as many people as possible and in the best way possible to meet their needs.

Q. What are the 'other employment support offers' which operate in Scotland?

A) Our employability support is wide ranging - across ages, abilities and degree of job-readiness.
  • For those who are job ready, Modern Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to earn a wage while learning skills that will be used throughout an individual's career;
  • Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) is an employability programme aimed at supporting disadvantaged young people aged 16-29 into employment by providing paid job training opportunities in the Third Sector with the option of additional training specifically designed to enhance general employability skills.
  • Opportunities for All is the Scottish Government's commitment to an offer of an appropriate place in learning, training for 16-19 year olds not already engaged in education, training or employment.
  • Activity Agreements are for 16-19 year olds assessed as requiring additional support in order to progress to further learning, employability skills training, a Modern Apprenticeship and employment.
  • We will continue to support employers to recruit young people who face the biggest barriers to employment, through Scotland's Employer Recruitment Incentive (SERI).
  • We also support the Employability Fund which supports young people towards employment through a number of local training programmes.