Creating a Fairer Scotland: Employability Support

Closed 9 Oct 2015

Opened 6 Jul 2015

Feedback updated 29 Jan 2016

We asked

From 1 April 2017, Scotland will have the power to design and deliver its own employability services for disabled people and those at risk of long-term unemployment.  We asked for your views on how best to develop a distinctive Scottish Approach to future employability support.

In addition to the formal consultation, Creating a Fairer Scotland: Employability Support: A Discussion Paper, we also gathered views through a Survey Monkey questionnaire and a series of more than 70 events and meetings with user and stakeholder groups around Scotland.

You said

We received 179 written responses to Creating a Fairer Scotland: Employability Support: A Discussion Paper and a further 36 responses to our Survey Monkey questionnaire.  The majority of respondents were individuals, with views also submitted by private, third sector and public sector organisation. 

We did

Following thorough independent analysis of the consultation and questionnaire responses, and building on what stakeholders said, we have identified that the Scottish Approach to employability should:

  • Provide a flexible, tailored, ‘whole person’ approach
  • Be designed and delivered in partnership
  • Drive towards real jobs

We will use the full findings of the consultation analysis to inform decisions on the shape of future employability services in Scotland, with the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work Skills and Training, Roseanna Cunningham, due to provide further details of our plans in the coming weeks.

Whilst we remain committed to developing an approach which builds on the consultation responses and reflects the core aims of Scottish Ministers - namely sustainable economic growth, inclusion, fair work and social justice - it is important to accept that our ambitions will be limited by severe employability programme funding cuts imposed on us by UK Spending Review decisions.  With an anticipated budget cut of £45m, an 87% reduction, on estimated 15/16 UK Government employability spend in Scotland, Scottish Ministers will have to take difficult decisions on how best to prioritise support for unemployed people.

Results updated 29 Jan 2016

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Published responses

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In Scotland, a range of employability programmes and initiatives help tackle

unemployment and support people into work. The Scottish Government, its agencies

and a range of private, third and public sector partners help people find work,

develop skills to prepare them for work and match the skills needs of Scotland’s

employers to those of Scotland’s workforce.


Both national and local employability programmes provide a range of focused

support, mentoring and vocational training. Apprenticeships across a range of

sectors equip people with the skills they need for their job and to help progress in

work. Scotland’s schools, colleges and universities provide a wide range of quality

education, training and skills opportunities. These approaches are all aimed at

equipping Scotland’s people with the skills they need for their world of work and

producing the skills employers need to compete successfully and grow their



Scotland’s Economic Strategy sets out an over-arching framework for how we aim

to achieve a more productive, cohesive and fairer Scotland.

Our approach is based on two key pillars; increasing competitiveness and tackling

inequality. There is growing evidence that delivering sustainable growth and

addressing long-standing inequalities are reinforcing – and not competing –



By maximising the economic opportunities for all of Scotland, we will be able to

deliver sustainable economic growth that is shared by all, as well as creating a more

successful and fairer society. Helping a person to find, stay and progress in work, to

find and access the right training or education opportunity is one of the ways in which

we will deliver on these objectives.


In Scotland, the importance of employability to the wellbeing and sense of inclusion

for an individual is embedded in our public policies in health, justice and equalities. It

is the focus of effort across government at national and local levels. It is also the

focus of a wide range of activity across public, private and third sector partners.

Promoting the principles of Fair Work in Scotland will boost productivity and create

jobs, but also offer the best route out of unemployment and poverty for individuals

and their families. We want a Scotland where unemployed people aim for jobs in the

knowledge that they will be valued, rewarded and engaged in the jobs they find.


The key discussion areas in this paper are:

  • what works best for unemployed people;
  • the existing delivery landscape, scope for integrating services and whether to replace, develop or build on some, or all, existing services;
  • ensuring all people in Scotland can access employment support services, but that these remain flexible enough to meet the employability needs of the individual;
  • how to ensure early, accurate and realistic assessment of support needed, and how to share the assessment of need and join up services;
  • balancing a national employment support service with the needs of the individual, local provision, and services from a range of providers most effectively;
  • making the best use of resources to help unemployed people into work, while focusing specifically on people who face the most barriers to work;
  • joining up service delivery and changing the way we deliver public services;
  • incentives to help people find and stay in work, defining success by progression towards work within a wider context of fair work, dignity, inclusion and sustainability;
  • flexibilities in the conditionality and sanctions regime in Scotland to better align with our principles of Fair Work, equity and social justice.

Alternative Formats

This consultation paper will be made available in alternative formats. Anyone

requiring the document in an alternative format should contact Joanne Farrow

at or the address below.

Scottish Government

Fair Work Directorate

Labour Market and Workplace Policy Division

5th Floor Atlantic Quay

150 Broomielaw


G2 8LU

Why your views matter

The Smith Commission was set up on 19th September 2014, the day after the Scottish independence referendum. The Commission was established to "convene cross-party talks and facilitate an inclusive engagement process across Scotland to produce, recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament".

On 27th November 2014, the Commission published its recommendations.  These will be brought into force through a Scotland Bill currently going through the UK Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament will have all powers over support for unemployed people through the employment programmes currently contracted by DWP (which are presently delivered mainly, but not exclusively, through the Work Programme and Work Choice) on expiry of the current commercial arrangements. The Scottish Parliament will have the power to decide how it operates these core employment support services. Funding for these services will be transferred from the UK Parliament..

The proposed new Scotland Bill (as currently drafted) to bring this into force defines this as:

The making by a person of arrangements for, or arrangements for the purposes of or in connection with a scheme for, any of the following purposes—

(a) assisting disabled persons to select, obtain and retain employment;

(b) assisting persons claiming reserved benefits who are at risk of long-term unemployment to select, obtain and retain employment, where the assistance is for at least a year..

Paragraph 58 of Smith also suggested that although Jobcentre Plus may remain reserved, “ the UK and Scottish Government will identify ways to further link services through methods such as colocation wherever possible and establish more formal mechanisms to govern the Jobcentre Plus network in Scotland.”

The draft Scotland Bill is silent on thie issue and discussion are ongoing between the Scottish and Uk Governments on how this part of the Smith Comission agreement will be delivered.

As currently proposed, the UK Government will devolve power to the Scottish Parliament on programmes for unemployed disabled people (DWP’s Work Choice scheme) and those at risk of long term unemployment (DWP’s Work Programme scheme).

The Scottish Government believes the powers being devolved do not meet the recommendations made by the Smith Commission. The powers being devolved are too limited. The operation of Jobcentre Plus and all of DWP’s contracted services need to be transferred to Scotland to allow a coherent and fully aligned approach to employability services in Scotland to be developed. Discussions are ongoing between Scottish and UK Governments on the scope and timing of the powers to be transferred and the funding for future delivery of employability services.

In relation to Social Security, the Smith Commission also recommended that the Scottish Government have powers over benefits for carers, disabled people and those who are ill. The Smith Commission recommended devolution of the Regulated Social Fund and some flexibilities around Universal Credit.

The Scottish Government has made the case for full devolution over social security and employment provision to ensure a more co-ordinated person centred approach could be taken forward. The Scottish Government are also keen to engage more widely with all those with an interest in the area of social security, and will publish an outline Scottish Government position towards the end of the year.

But in relation to employment support services, the Scottish Government recognises the vital importance of this support to unemployed people in Scotland.  While the discussions between Governments continue, the Scottish Government is committed to working now to determine, develop and deliver the services it will provide from 1st April 2017.