Scottish Government Viewpoint
FAIR Start Scotland is the country's new devolved employment support service.
It is focused on supporting unemployed people who have challenges in accessing the labour market for whom work is a realistic prospect.
Launched in April, earlier this year, it is an example of one of the first uses of newly devolved powers under the 2016 Scotland Act.
The service will run until 2023 and aims to provide tailored, flexible and person-centred support to at least 38,000 people across Scotland who want help to find work, and stay in work.
Fair Start Scotland is distinctive in that participation is purely voluntary.
This means that people have everything to gain and nothing to lose – choosing to participate will not affect existing benefits or be driven by fear of benefit sanctions.
The service is delivered locally, meaning that no participants are left without the support they need.
Delivery is over nine geographic areas including the Highlands and reflects local area economies, meeting the needs of employers, disabled people and those at risk of long-term unemployment.
Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, said: "What's crucial about Fair Start Scotland is that it treats people with fairness, dignity and respect and that it is focused on the needs of the individual.
"We are dedicated to delivering a high quality employment support service that will lead to real and sustained job outcomes and help people to achieve their full potential.
"As well as meeting the needs of unemployed people, Fair Start Scotland also seeks to help businesses find the skilled and committed employees they need to thrive."
One of the many now benefitting is Highlander Alan Cairns (40).
He has not worked for over a year and his biggest barriers to work have been low confidence and computer skills but now he has secured 16 hours of work per week.
Alan started on the Fair Start Scotland service in the middle of May and has been attending the service for the past 12 weeks. He can now use Microsoft Outlook and completed his new CV on Microsoft Word and been applying online for jobs.
Alan said: "I've attended workshops on confidence building, and digital skills.
"My confidence is improving a lot and so is my computer skills, I have been job searching online and sending emails, I couldn't do this before."
* To find out more and check eligibility for the service visit www.mygov.scot/fairstart