Welcome by Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Employability and Training
I am delighted to issue this special edition of the Employability in Scotland e-bulletin to update you on an important milestone for employment support in Scotland.
This afternoon, in the Scottish Parliament, I announced the award of contracts to deliver Fair Start Scotland - our devolved employment support service which will commence from April 2018 and support at least 38,000 people who are further removed from the labour market, find work and stay in work.
This marks the conclusion of an open, competitive and rigorous procurement exercise, and I would like to personally thank all of the organisations who participated.
I recognise that engaging in any procurement process requires significant investment of time, resource and energy; and the bids we received showed the real commitment, dedication and desire organisations in the public, private and third sector have to supporting people to achieve their full potential.
At the end of this thorough process, I am confident that we have awarded contracts to a range of providers with a real breadth of expertise and that demonstrate strong, collaborative proposals to deliver our collective ambitions in partnership for a person-centred, effective and responsive employment support service.
The Scottish Government is already using new powers to deliver one year transitional employment support services – and these are already helping unemployed people with health conditions and disabilities across the country to find work – and to stay in work.
People participating in these services are already seeing results – helping them to build confidence and removing some of the practical barriers to searching for employment. And providing in-work support to ensure people have the help they need to sustain work.
And this is only the beginning of the impact these services will make on people’s lives. We all understand the health, social and economic benefits that come from getting more people into good, rewarding and fair work. This is at the heart of our ambitions for delivering inclusive economic growth.
Fair Start Scotland will have respect and fairness at its core, supporting people to achieve their full potential. We have listened to the views of people who rely on these services – and will continue to do so.
We are taking a different approach to the UK Government ensuring that participation is voluntary meaning people will not be driven to take part because of fear of sanctions. We are also funding these services appropriately – with Scottish Ministers committing an additional £20million each year, over and above the significantly reduced funding proposed in each of the initial years by the UK Government.
Unlike previous approaches by the UK Government, Fair Start Scotland will better reflect the reality of Scotland’s geography, regional economies and population spread - with 9 contract areas – rather than simply considering the whole of Scotland as one area.
Designed nationally, Fair Start Scotland will be delivered locally to meet local needs and labour market conditions featuring a range of specialist providers to ensure that people receive the right type of support for their needs and circumstances. The services will be delivered through new and innovative consortia and partnership approach - Increasing collaboration across private, public and third sector delivery partners across Scotland.
Our vision for Fair Start Scotland is clear – we are using one of the first powers devolved under the Scotland Act 2016 to deliver a distinct and different approach to employment support in Scotland.
We are doing this by putting people at the centre of these services. Our employment support services are not about organisations, sectors or institutions – they are about people. People who deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness, and who deserve to achieve their potential. We all have to work together to deliver that.
Fair Start Scotland is an important step in our effort to create a Fairer Scotland.
The fair, inclusive and thriving Scotland we all want to see.
I recognise and value the vast range of experience and expertise that you contribute, as partners and I thank you for your support, advice and challenge to shape and develop our approach to employment support services. I look forward to continuing to work with you as we move into implementation and delivery of Fair Start Scotland to ensure that the service is delivering the right support for the people of Scotland.
Jamie Hepburn MSP
Minister for Employability and Training
For more information on today's announcement, please see here -