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Scotland's Devolved Employment Services: Statistical Summary July 2023

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Introduction

FSS is Scotland’s devolved employability support service, and aims to help those further from the labour market move into and sustain fair work. FSS launched on 3 April 2018 (Fair Start Scotland Statement – opens in a new window) with funding to support a minimum of 38,000 people into work over an initial three year period. The service has been extended to March 2024.

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, minority ethnic groups, and people who live in some of the most deprived areas in Scotland. More information about the service can be found on mygov.scot – find a job (opens in a new window).

FSS is delivered by a mixed economy of public, private and third sector providers across nine geographical areas throughout Scotland. Potential participants can engage with FSS 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 FSS 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 FSS.

Following the extension of FSS beyond the initial three year period, people who have previously received support can re-join the service. As a result, the total number of starts in years 1 to 3 equals the number of people but from year 4 onwards and thus overall, the total number of starts is not the same as the number of people who have received support.

This report refers to the following groups throughout:

  • People – unique individuals counted only once. If a participant has joined the service more than once, they will only be counted once under the people metric.
  • Starts – number of starts on the service. As people can now re-join, the number of starts may not equal the number of unique people. For example, if a participant has joined the service on two separate occasions, this will be counted twice under starts but only once under people.
  • Re-joins – refers to starts that are not first time starts. It should also be noted people may re-join more than once. The sum of the people metric and re-joins equals the number of starts on the service.

Most of the statistics in this report cover the period since FSS was launched in April 2018 up until the most recent quarter (January – March 2023). However, for some data items such as job outcomes, it is more appropriate to only consider those participants where enough time has passed that we have complete data. This varies depending on the metric but is noted within the relevant sections of the report.

See Fair Start Scotland background section for further details.

How many FSS referrals and starts have there been?

There were 86,431 referrals to FSS between its launch in April 2018 and the end of March 2023. Of the total referrals to FSS, 57,601 started receiving employability support. This includes 4,495 re-joins to the service by participants that have previously been supported by FSS.

Referrals and starts had peaked in April – June 2021 following the lows observed during lockdown. While there had subsequently been a decrease from this peak, referrals and starts had returned to similar levels observed pre-pandemic (see Impact of Covid-19 on FSS in background information).

In the most recent quarter, referrals have risen by 23% from 4,416 last quarter to 5,439 this quarter, the second highest on record. Starts have increased by 20% from 2,952 last quarter to 3,555 this quarter. Compared to the equivalent quarter in 2022, referrals have increased by 13% and starts by 11%.

Figure 8: Number of referrals and starts to FSS by quarter, April 2018 to March 2023

Who are the people that have joined FSS?

Of the 57,601 FSS starts, 53,105 people have started on the service, with the difference reflecting participants re-joining the service. The following breakdown of equality groups are based on the characteristics of those 53,105 people when they first joined FSS.

Gender

Most people joining FSS are male (62%; 32,707) while 38% (20,275) are female. However, there is evidence this gap is narrowing. The proportion of females in FSS has increased from 35% in year 1 to 39% in year 5. In the most recent quarter (January – March 2023), 38% of participants were female, lower than the record high of 44% observed in the previous quarter.

Age

The most common age group of people joining FSS is 35-49 years (29%; 15,455), followed by 50 years old and over (25%; 13,197) and 25-34 years (25%; 13,153). The lowest proportion of people are in the 16-24 years old age group (19%; 10,338).

Over the course of years 1 to 3, there was an increase in the proportion of participants from the youngest age group (16-24), from 16% to 25%. In year 4 however there was a reversal, with the proportion falling to 16% before increasing again in year 5 to 19%. In the most recent quarter, the proportion was 17%.

For the oldest age group, 50 years old and over, the proportion has followed a reversed trend compared to the youngest age group. In years 1 to 3, it decreased from 30% to 20% but increased in year 4 to 27% before falling again to 23% in year 5. In the most recent quarter, the proportion was 23%.

Ethnicity

Overall, 6% (3,451) of people joining FSS were from minority ethnic backgrounds and 74% (39,152) were white with ethnicity unknown for the remaining 20% (10,502) of participants.

In the most recent quarter 13% of participants were from a minority ethnic group and 82% of participants were white.

Monitoring changes to the proportion of minority ethnic participants over time is difficult due to the high proportion of unknowns. During the first Covid-19 lockdown, FSS service delivery moved to over the phone or online which impacted on the collection of equalities data. There has been subsequent work with FSS service providers to maximise response rates. Please see Data Quality in background information for more details.

In year 5, the proportion of unknowns was 7% and was 5% in the most recent quarter. This has followed improvements observed in year 4 where unknowns were at 13% compared to higher proportions in the earlier years of the service (year 1: 17%, year 2: 31%, year 3: 29%).

Disability

Disability is defined based on answers to two questions related to long-term health condition (LTHC) and ability to carry out activities. Please see Methodology in background information for more details.

Overall, a similar proportion of FSS participants have reported a disability (44%; 23,374) as reported not having a disability (47%; 24,973), while this was unknown for the remaining 9% of participants.

The proportion of disabled people has varied across years with the highest proportion (55%) in year 1 and the lowest (32%) in year 3, where an impact on the collection of equalities data in general was observed following the move away from face to face service delivery due to Covid-19. There may also have been a direct impact from Covid-19 policies such as shielding. In year 4, the proportion of disabled people increased to 47% but has decreased to 43% in year 5. In the most recent quarter, 39% of people reported a disability.

Figure 9: Breakdown of people starting FSS by equality characteristic group, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of percentage of people supported through Fair Start Scotland, by equality characteristic group. More men (62%), people aged 35 and over (54%), white people (74%), people unemployed for 24 months or more (37%), claiming a benefit (78%), living in an urban area (90%), living in the 85% least deprived areas (63%), and not reporting a conviction (89%) have joined Fair Start Scotland; 44% were disabled and 47% were not disabled.

Long-Term Health Condition

Overall, 62% (32,762) of people joining FSS reported having a LTHC, 33% (17,305) reported no LTHC, with 6% (3,038) unknown. In year 5, 55% of people have reported a LTHC, continuing a decreasing trend in the proportion of people reporting a LTHC. In the most recent quarter, the proportion was 51%, the joint lowest proportion in any quarter to date.

There are many LTHC that may impact upon a person’s ability to gain and maintain employment without additional support and participants may have more than one LTHC. The most commonly reported LTHC by participants joining FSS was a mental health condition (33%; 17,669), followed by a long-term illness, disease or condition (17%; 8,856). Please note participants can report more than one LTHC.

Figure 10: Percentage of people starting on FSS reporting long-term health conditions, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of percentage of people starting on Fair Start Scotland reporting long-term health conditions where the long-term health conditions reported most in Fair Start Scotland are mental health conditions (33%).

Parents

Annual data on FSS participants that are parents was first published in May 2021. From August 2022, quarterly parent data covering year 5 onwards has been published.

Of people joining FSS for the first time 11,285 were parents, while there has been 12,260 total parent starts on the service since its launch in April 2018, including re-joins.

Cumulative totals should be interpreted with caution and comparison of data between years is not advised due to the way the collection has developed over time. Please see Methodology in background information for more details.

In the latest quarter, of the 1,005 parent starts on FSS there were 884 people who were parents accessing FSS support for the first time. These 884 parents represented 30% of all 2,958 people accessing FSS support for the first time in this quarter. This is the highest quarterly proportion in year 5.

Of the 884 parents in the most recent quarter, the following groups were observed in terms of parents and those from families at highest risk of being affected by child poverty (see background information for more detail):

  • 37% were disabled,
  • 32% were lone parents,
  • 2% were mothers aged under 25,
  • 20% were parents with three or more children,
  • 38% had a child aged under 12 months, and,
  • 16% were from a minority ethnic background.

Please note, the following breakdowns are reported in this publication for the first time.

Convictions

People with a conviction may find it harder to find employment. There has been 5,835 people (11%) joining FSS that reported having a conviction. This has remained fairly consistent across years with the highest proportion (13%) in year 4 and the lowest proportion (8%) in year 5. In the most recent quarter, 234 (8%) of people reported a having a conviction.

Benefit Claimants

The majority of people (78%; 41,674) joining FSS are benefit claimants. This has fluctuated across years with the highest proportion (87%) in year 4 and the lowest (74%) in year 1. It should be noted that proportion of unknowns has improved since the first few years. In the most recent quarter, 2,360 (80%) people reported claiming benefits.

Length of Time Unemployed

People who have been out of the labour market for a longer period of time may find it more difficult to find employment. Most people (37%; 19,750) joining FSS have been unemployed for 24 months or more. A similar proportion have been unemployed for less than 6 months (18%; 9,352), between 6 – 12 months (16%; 8,341) and 12 – 24 months (15%; 8,133). This information is unknown for the remaining participants (14%; 7,529). In the most recent quarter, 930 people (31%) reported being unemployed for 24 months or more.

Deprivation

There has been 18,786 people (35%) joining FSS who lived in one of the 15% most deprived areas. This has remained consistent across years with the highest proportion (38%) in year 1 and the lowest proportion (33%) in years 3 and 5. In the most recent quarter, 953 people (32%) lived in one of the 15% most deprived areas. Geographic information was unavailable for 1% of participants.

See background information for more detail on deprivation.

Urban/Rural

People living in rural areas may be more limited for job opportunities compared to those living in urban areas. There has been 4,459 people (8%) joining FSS who live in a rural area, while 47,890 people (90%) live in an urban area. This has remained consistent across years with the highest proportion (91%) in years 1 and 4 and the lowest proportion (88%) in year 3. In the most recent quarter, 247 people (8%) reported living in a rural area. Geographic information was unavailable for 1% of participants.

See background information for more detail on Urban Rural classification.

How many FSS early leavers have there been?

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 but can last up to 18 months in some cases. However this has only applied to a small number of people to date.

There have been 27,171 early leavers from the 57,601 FSS starts (including 4,495 re-joins). As time passes, there is a more complete picture of the proportion of starts on the service that stay on FSS or leave early.

Where we have a complete picture, based on participants with a start date one year or longer, 23,600 (52%) of starts have left early. This rate is based on a cohort of 45,040 starting between the period April 2018 and March 2022 (including 2,450 re-joins). There was a reduction in early leavers between years 1 and 2 from 53% to 46%, however in year 3 this increased to 52% and in year 4, 58% of participants left FSS early.

The percentage of early leavers was higher for those reporting a disability, particularly for those who have a LTHC that limits daily activities a lot (58%); compared with those with a LTHC that did not limit daily activities at all (47%). Younger participants also had higher early leaver rates: 54% of those aged 16-24, compared with 50% of those aged 50 and over.

Participants with a conviction have the highest rates of leaving early (60%). Those participants who lived in one of the 15% most deprived areas had higher early leaver rates (56%) than those who lived in one of the 85% least deprived areas (51%). Participants unemployed for 24 months or more also have higher rates of leaving early (57%) compared to those unemployed less than 6 months (44%), 6 – 12 months (46%) and 12 – 24 months (52%).

Figure 11: Percentage of FSS starts that leave the service early, broken down by equality characteristic group, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of percentage of Fair Start Scotland starts that leave the service early, by equality characteristics group. A higher proportion of starts unemployed for 24 months or more (57%), claiming a benefit (54%), living in the 15% most deprived areas (56%), reporting a conviction (60%) and limited a lot by their long-term health condition (58%) leave Fair Start Scotland early.

How many FSS starts entered and sustained employment?

There has been a total of 20,013 job starts from the 57,601 FSS starts, including the 4,495 re-joins to the service, since the launch of FSS.

Figure 12 shows both the impact of Covid-19 restrictions beginning in March 2020 and the regular seasonal decline observed each Christmas with subsequent increases in the new year. There can be significant variation in the number of job starts by month with the highest number of job starts in any one month in May 2021 (516), the only time monthly job starts have surpassed 500. In the latest quarter, job starts increased from 343 in January 2023 to 413 in March 2023. It is important to be cautious when interpreting data for the most recent months as there can be delays between a participant starting a job and it being recorded by service providers.

Figure 12: Number of FSS starts entering employment after joining the service, by the month job was started, January 2020 to March 2023

Line chart of number of Fair Start Scotland starts entering employment by month the job was started. Job starts in January – March 2023 were 4% lower than last quarter and 10% higher from a year ago.

Of the 20,013 job starts, so far 13,664 had sustained employment for at least 3 months (13 weeks), 10,482 at least 6 months (26 weeks), and 7,023 at least 12 months (52 weeks), as of March 2023.

When considering job outcomes rather than total numbers, this should only be calculated for participants where enough time has passed in pre-employment support and for individual outcomes to be achieved. The following table summarises this for each outcome type.

Table 1: Outcome type and respective service start time period and number of participants covered in each outcome

Outcome

Time Required to Pass

Time period of starting on service

Participants

Re-joins

Job Starts

12 month support

April 2018 to March 2022

45,040

2,450

3 month job outcome

12 month support + 3 months

April 2018 to December 2021

41,850

1,864

6 month job outcome

12 month support + 6 months

April 2018 to September 2021

39,151

1,339

12 month job outcome

12 month support + 12 months

April 2018 to March 2021

32,507

0

For start cohorts where enough time has passed in pre-employment support and for outcomes to be achieved, job outcomes show:

  • Most FSS starts did not enter work or go on to sustain employment: 37% started a job, 27% sustained employment for 3 months, 22% sustained employment for 6 months, and 18% sustained employment for 12 months however,

a high percentage of job starts are sustained: 73% of FSS starts that entered employment went on to sustain employment for 3 months, 82% of those who sustained employment for 3 months went on to reach 6 months, and 78% of those who sustained employment for 6 months went on to reach at least 12 months.

Gender

Whilst the job start rate is the same for males and females at 37%, female participants achieve higher rates for each job outcome compared to male participants, with the gap increasing slightly for each outcome. For 3 month job outcomes; 28% of female starts compared with 26% of male starts. For 6 month job outcomes; 24% of female starts compared with 21% of male starts and for 12 month job outcomes; 20% of female starts compared with 16% of male starts.

Figure 13: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by gender, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by gender. Males and females have the same job start rate (37%) but females have slightly higher job outcome rates across the three time periods.

Age

While the youngest age group (16-24) made up the lowest proportion of FSS participants, this group achieved the highest rates of job starts (42%) and 3 month job outcomes (30%) compared to other age groups. However this difference disappears at 6 and 12 month job outcomes, with this group achieving the joint lowest rate for 12 month job outcomes (17%).

Those in the oldest age group (50 years and older) had the lowest outcome rates for job starts (33%), 3 month job outcomes (25%), and 6 month job outcomes (21%) and joint lowest for 12 month job outcomes (17%).

Figure 14: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by age group, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by age group. 16 to 24 year olds are the smallest proportion of starts but have the highest job start (42%) and 3 month outcome rate (30%).

Long-Term Health Condition and Disability

Of the FSS starts with a long-term health condition that limited daily activities a lot, 25% went on to start work, compared to 45% of starts that had a health condition that did not limit daily activities. Differences between these groups was also observed in the proportions sustaining employment at 3 months (19% for those limited a lot; 32% for those not limited at all), 6 months (16% for those limited a lot;  26% not limited at all) and 12 months (12% for those limited a lot;  21% not limited at all).

Figure 15: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by long-term health condition, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by long-term health condition. Starts with a health condition that does not limit daily activities have higher job start (45%) and outcome rates across the three time periods.Figure 16: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by disability, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by disability. Disabled participants have lower job start (32%) and outcome rates across the three time periods than non-disabled participants.

Ethnicity

Of the FSS starts that were from minority ethnic backgrounds, 39% went on to start work, compared to 36% of white participants. This difference remained similar for each of the job outcomes. For 3 month outcomes (29% for minority ethnic participants; 27% for white participants), 6 month outcomes (24% for minority ethnic participants; 22% for white participants), and 12 month outcomes (18% for minority ethnic participants; 17% for white participants).

Figure 17: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by ethnicity, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by ethnicity. Minority ethnic participants have slightly higher job start (39%) and outcome rates across 3 month and 6 month job outcomes than white participants.

Please note, the following breakdowns are reported in this publication for the first time.

Convictions

Of the FSS starts that reported a conviction, 30% went on to start work compared to 37% for all participants. The rate of achieving job outcomes for participants with a conviction is low compared to all participants. For job outcomes, 19% of participants with a conviction achieved a 3 month job outcome (27% for all participants), 15% achieved a 6 month job outcome (22% for all participants) and 10% achieved a 12 month job outcome (18% for all participants).

Figure 18: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by reported conviction, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by reported conviction. Participants reporting a conviction have lower job start (30%) and outcome rates across the three time periods than participants where no conviction is reported.

Benefit Claimants

Of the FSS starts that reported claiming a benefit, 33% went on to start work, compared to 57% of participants not claiming a benefit. This gap remains for each of the job outcomes, 3 month outcomes (24% for claiming benefit; 45% for not claiming benefit), 6 month outcomes (20% for claiming benefit; and 38% for not claiming benefit), and 12 month outcomes (15% for claiming benefit; and 30% for not claiming benefit).

Figure 19: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by reporting benefit claim, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by reporting benefit claim. Participants reporting a benefit claim have lower job start (33%) and outcome rates across the three time periods than participants where no benefit claim is reported.

Length of Time Unemployed

Of the FSS starts that have been unemployed for less than 6 months, 57% went on to start work, compared to 23% for those unemployed for 24 months or more. For 3 month job outcomes, this was achieved for 43% of those unemployed for less than 6 months compared to 17% for those unemployed for 24 months or more. For 6 month job outcomes, this was achieved for 35% of those unemployed for less than 6 months compared to 14% for those unemployed for 24 months or more. For 12 month job outcomes, this was achieved for 27% of those unemployed for less than 6 months compared to 10% for those unemployed for 24 months or more.  

Figure 20: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by length of time unemployed, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by time unemployed. Participants unemployed for less than 6 months have higher job start (57%) and outcome rates across the three periods than participants that are unemployed for longer. The longer participants are unemployed the lower job start and outcomes rates become.

Deprivation

Of the FSS starts that lived in the 15% most deprived areas, 35% went on to start work, compared to 38% of participants living in the 85% least deprived areas. A similar gap was observed for a 3 month job outcome (25% for 15% most deprived areas; 28% for 85% least deprived areas), 6 month outcomes (20% for 15% most deprived areas; 24% for 85% least deprived areas), and 12 month outcomes (16% for 15% most deprived areas; 18% for 85% least deprived areas).

Figure 21: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by reporting deprivation, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by reporting deprivation. Participants living in the 15% most deprived areas have lower job start (35%) and outcome rates across the three time periods than participants living in the 85% least deprived areas.

Urban/Rural

Of the FSS starts that lived in a rural area, 37% went on to start work, the same proportion for those that lived in an urban area. For each job outcome, the rate of those that lived in a rural area was the exact same as for those that lived in an urban area; 3 month job outcome; 27%, 6 month outcome; 22% and 12 month outcome; 18%.

Figure 22: Employment outcomes after joining the service, for all FSS participants and split by reporting urban/rural area, April 2018 to March 2023

Bar graph of employment outcomes for all Fair Start Scotland participants, by reporting urban/rural area. There are no differences in job start (37%) and outcome rates across the three time periods for participants living in a rural or urban area.

 

How many parent starts on FSS entered and sustained employment?

For the 12,260 FSS starts that were parents, job outcome rates can only be reported for cohorts where enough time has passed in pre-employment support (12 months) and for outcomes to be achieved, therefore the number of parents and time periods included differ by outcome. The following table summarises this for each outcome type.

Table 2: Outcome type and respective service start time period and number of parents covered in each outcome

Outcome

Time Required to Pass

Time period of starting on service

Parents Included

Parent Re-joins

Job Starts

12 month support

April 2018 to March 2022

8,891

543

3 month job outcome

12 month support + 3 months

April 2018 to December 2021

8,052

418

6 month job outcome

12 month support + 6 months

April 2018 to September 2021

7,305

309

12 month job outcome

12 month support + 12 months

April 2018 to March 2021

5,401

0

For start cohorts where enough time has passed in pre-employment support and for outcomes to be achieved, job outcome rates show:

  • Most parent FSS starts did not enter work or go on to sustain employment: 37% started a job, 28% sustained employment for 3 months, 24% sustained employment for 6 months, and 19% sustained employment for 12 months.

Job Starts

The proportion of parents (37%) starting a job after joining the service is similar to the proportion of participants overall at 37%. This was lower for disabled parents (31%) starting a job and disabled participants not reported to be parents (32%) and lower than the 41% of FSS starts who were not disabled and not reported to be parents. A job start was achieved by 32% of lone parent starts, 35% of parent starts that were mothers under 25, 36% of parent starts with three or more children, 36% of parent starts that had a child aged under 12 months and 38% of FSS starts that were minority ethnic parents.

3 month job outcome

A similar proportion of parents (28%) achieved a 3 month job outcome compared to FSS participants overall (27%). However, this was again lower for disabled parents (24%) and disabled participants who were not reported to be parents (23%). The highest rates were observed in those participants who were not disabled and not reported to be parents (30%). Three months sustained employment was achieved by 24% of lone parent starts, 24% of parent starts that were mothers under 25, 28% of parent starts with three or more children, 26% of parent starts that had a child aged under 12 months and 29% of FSS starts that were minority ethnic parents.

6 month job outcome

A similar proportion of parents (24%) achieved a 6 month job outcome compared with all FSS participants (22%). This was lower for disabled parents and disabled participants not reported to be parents (both 19%). Six months sustained employment was achieved by 20% of lone parent starts, 17% of parent starts that were mothers under 25, 23% of parent starts with three or more children, 21% of parent starts that had a child aged under 12 months and 24% of FSS starts that were minority ethnic parents.

12 month job outcome

The proportion of parents achieving a 12 month job outcome was 19%, similar to the proportion of FSS participants overall at 18% and for disabled parents (16%) and disabled participants who were not reported to be parents (15%). Twelve months sustained employment was achieved by 16% of lone parent starts, 12% of parent starts that were mothers under 25, 19% of parent starts with three or more children, 19% of parent starts that had a child aged under 12 months and 18% of FSS starts that were minority ethnic parents.

All outcome rates for parents should be used with caution as some percentages are based on very small numbers.

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