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Workforce Plus - an Employability Framework for Scotland

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Executive Summary

Employability is ". . . the combination of factors and processes which enable people to progress towards or get into employment, to stay in employment and to move on in the workplace."

Definition by Effective Interventions Unit in the Health Dept, and adopted for the purposes of the Framework

The context and purpose of the Framework ( Section 1)

The Scottish Executive shares a common agenda with the UK Government to promote economic growth and sustainable development, reduce disadvantage and inequality and to end child poverty.

The Scottish Executive can help achieve these goals, particularly in health, education, skills, and regeneration. These policies will work together with the UK Government's plans to help everyone who wants to return to the workforce.

There have been real achievements since 1997 in helping people move from welfare dependency into work - with a major impact on related problems like child poverty. But there are still too many obstacles for the people of Scotland who want to return to the world of work.

We've set a target of helping a further 66,000 individuals, in seven local government areas, to move from benefits to work. This document explains how we intend to achieve that goal and how it will be to the advantage of thousands of families as well as allowing many more people to contribute to the vibrancy of the Scottish economy. Success will depend on delivering the services effectively to individuals. The Scottish Executive will lead and co-ordinate this action but successful delivery of Workforce Plus will be dependent on the co-operation and willingness of all agencies to work together.

Although we are targeting these seven local government areas, the actions set out in this document are intended to support a range of government areas in Scotland to achieve higher levels of performance and create a coherent employability service.

The Current Situation ( Section 2)

We know that money is already available from various sources to help people into work. However, this effort is disjointed with too many organisations and not enough co-operation among them. It is absurd that someone wanting to work is treated as a new client each time they access a different service. The system must be better geared to the needs of each individual, for example through providing key workers to support people on their route to work.

It is estimated that 500,000 job opportunities will be available in Scotland by the end of 2008 - but only 40,000 of these will be completely new jobs. Many of the other job opportunities - which will arise, for example, from retirements - will require relatively high skill levels.

We want employers to recruit from a labour market pool which includes people who may not have been considered previously - such as lone parents, Incapacity Benefit clients and those who are disabled. But to achieve that, we need to develop and build on the knowledge and data about workless client groups. We need to know more about the factors that influence what needs to be done to help each individual improve his or her employment prospects and about what has been holding that person back.

Transforming Performance ( Section 3)

The six Workforce Plus themes that we've identified so far are

  • early interventions;
  • client focused interventions;
  • employer engagement;
  • sustaining and progressing employment;
  • joined up planning and delivery of services; and
  • better outcomes.

Section 3 also looks at the key actions which need to be implemented and the practical implications of putting them into practice, including local alignment of funding. It sets out the need for front line staff to be clear about the crucial part they play and how they can work with their counterparts in other agencies, to make a huge difference to the lives and prospects of the people they are dealing with.

Underlying all of this is the need for partnership working. What matters above all are the needs of the individual client - and it is the responsibility of the system to be as flexible and user-friendly as possible when responding to them.

Moving Forward ( Section 4)

Local employment partnerships are essential to deliver appropriate services at a local level. They have the expertise and knowledge of their own area and we recognise that one size will not fit all.

All agencies will need to work together effectively to deliver a coherent service which meets the needs of the local labour market. Those needs for each area will be different - depending on local circumstances.

The Framework will assist local employment partnerships to identify gaps and duplications, and to plan, deliver and monitor the services helping people into work. It will also help to identify what works well, allowing each area to develop its own service delivery mechanisms. We will develop this local dimension in tandem with the UK Government's proposals for a cities strategy.

The formation of a National Workforce Plus Partnership will provide leadership, strategic direction and support for the local partnerships. All the key agencies in Scotland will be represented and will ensure that their organisations are able to participate and deliver joint planning at the local level.

Support will be needed for both the local and national partnerships to embed "employability" and Workforce Plus in all Scottish Executive led strategies and ensure best practice. A specialist team will be developed to do this, and ensure that these aims are consistently addressed throughout Scottish Executive policy areas, including Health, Justice, Further and Higher Education and Communities.

Workforce Plus Action Plan ( Section 5)

The Workforce Plus Action Plan details the actions to be taken at local and national levels and in developing the Workforce Plus Team. It also sets out responsibilities and a timetable for reviewing these actions. Workforce Plus sets out the agenda for the Scottish Executive to achieve our targets in Closing the Opportunity Gap. We intend to update the Framework and publish reviews of our progress towards our targets on a regular basis.

Conclusion

In working together to achieve these targets we are aware that for each person who moves into sustained employment, the effect is more widespread than just getting a job - it affects their health, their family, their friends and their neighbourhood. It brings about economic benefits, with less dependency on welfare benefits and it contributes to the economic growth of Scotland. In short, we have a win-win situation for each person achieving that goal. Our target is not just, or even mainly, about numbers - it is about improving the lives of individuals and families.