I recently spoke in a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the devolution of employment services. This topic is becoming increasingly important as we see the effects of austerity push people further and further away from the job market. But, we do have an opportunity to get this right for every person that needs to access such services.
What is very clear is that while targets are important, employment programmes must be about more than meeting targets to get people off benefits. Their main objective must be to provide the support, guidance, signposting, direction and training opportunities that will result in good, paid, and sustainable employment. If we are to achieve that, I suggest that we need joined-up strategies that are based on local intelligence of the support and skills needs locally and the availability of employment in the local area and region. Services must be designed to meet people’s needs rather than people being expected to fit into some kind of Government programme.
We as a country have the opportunity to deliver a person centred approach to employability. And we must focus on delivering that. We must take into consideration the needs of individuals, and end this culture of simply using employment programmes to get people off benefits and nothing else.
In designing the new services we have an opportunity to involve the third sector and local government is a meaningful way to help people towards employment. We can utilise the skills and knowledge that is available, and ensure that employment services work for the people of Scotland.