October 18, 2016 : Ruth Boyle

Fairer Scotland should mean fairer employability

As we move from paper to action, practical projects like Community Jobs Scotland are key.

The Scottish Government has announced the highly anticipated Fairer Scotland Action Plan and the issue of employability for disadvantaged groups is key.

Within the 50 point plan, principles on decent work, skills for work and access to work once again have a front seat.

The Scottish Government has been promoting ‘fair work’ through the living wage and the Business Pledge for some time.

While these steps are great news for those of us who are already in employment, or close to the job market, it does little to help if you simply can’t get a job.

If you aren’t given the opportunity to enter work and prove yourself, or if you don’t have the skills to get into the workplace, you’re in need of more than just higher wages.

The stubborn disability employment gap and the lower rate of positive destinations for care leavers highlight that, for some groups in Scotland, it’s a prolonged, treacherous road to a job.

No matter how many jobs some people circle in the newspaper, they face persistent barriers to entering work.

we have long been enagaged in improving employability in Scotland, particularly for disempowered and disadvantaged groups

The Scottish Government acknowledges as much within its plan and pledges to do more for promoting equal access to training, jobs, and then progression with those jobs.

If some of this sounds familiar, it might be because the third sector has been leading the way in targeted employment support.

As a sector, we have long been engaged in improving employability in Scotland, particularly for disempowered and disadvantaged groups.

With Community Jobs Scotland (CJS), now into its sixth year, SCVO and its third sector partners have been promoting the principles which are now at the heart of the Fairer Scotland Plan.

CJS has shown how people can flourish when they are given appropriate support, personalised to their specific circumstances and needs.

CJS works with disadvantaged groups, including care experienced young people, prison leavers and disabled young people and has achieved great outcomes.

The stories speak for themselves. From individuals able to apply for CJS jobs prior to leaving prison, leading to stability upon release, to disabled young people gaining their first employment, developing the skills necessary for further education or employment.

As we look to move from paper to practice, and plan to action, it’s important that there are practical programmes like CJS behind the Scottish Government’s ambitions.

CJS is explicitly mentioned in the Plan as a means to support more disabled people into work. SCVO believes there’s scope to do even more.

For example, how can we create better linkages between CJS and modern apprenticeships?

Could CJS be expanded out to help other groups? We think that a wider age group and university graduates also stand to benefit from CJS support.

Coming together to think about how we can develop programme will not only benefit the lives of Scotland’s most disadvantaged, it will help build upon the capacity of our sector, creating a new pool of skilled applicants for third sector jobs.

CJS is a third sector success story and we should be proud of its track record.

In this plan, the Scottish Government is singing from our hymn sheet and that presents a great opportunity.

The Government has set itself a bold task to achieve fairer working lives by 2030. It’s time to work out what we can do as a sector to achieve that.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Ruth Boyle