Anna Fowlie says it is vital that the voluntary sector continues to be involved in employability services across Scotland
After celebrating the 10,000th job created by Community Jobs Scotland, I’m writing this piece with a heavy heart. The scheme has been a great success for the young people benefitting from the jobs and for the hundreds of voluntary organisations who have been able to create and fill these roles over the years – and in many cases retain a valued member of staff after the scheme itself has finished. The significant investment made by Scottish Government over the last 10 years has made this possible and we are extremely grateful for it.
We rightly often focus on the young people CJS has supported into work or college, but today I want to focus on the organisations that have benefitted. The USP of Community Jobs Scotland from the outset has been that it creates jobs in charities, community organisations and social enterprises – the voluntary (aka third) sector. These have generally been year-long jobs, with proper contracts of employment and good pay and conditions. They’ve been in a whole range of types of work – retail, admin, landscaping, the arts, sports coaching, furniture-making to name but a few.
The value of voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes is undisputed and we have heard a lot from Scottish Government and local government over the last few months about the vital role the sector plays in every aspect of Scottish society. The recently published National Strategy for COVID Recovery recognises that. Even more than ever, this is the time to maintain and build capacity in the sector.
As part of her Covid recovery announcement, the First Minister confirmed that phase 2 of the No One Left Behind programme to transform employability support will be implemented from April next year. That means the funding previously held at a national level will be devolved to local authorities, including the funding currently allocated to Community Jobs Scotland. That means CJS will come to an end, unless councils are prepared to pay for it.
The Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair work, Richard Lochhead, has guaranteed that £5m will be ring-fenced for councils to create jobs in the voluntary sector in their local area. On behalf of local government, COSLA spokesperson Councillor Kelly Parry has committed to delivering those voluntary sector jobs, and to ensure that the sorts of young people previously supported by CJS will get as good – or even better - support. We’re watching closely to see how they deliver those promises.
And you can do the same. Every local authority area should have a Local Employability Partnership, involving the voluntary sector, and each council has an employability lead officer. You can find out who they are here. To find out how your local authority is creating jobs in the sector and how your organisation can be part of that, I would encourage you to contact your local lead officer.
In the meantime, our dedicated team will continue to take forward the final phase of Community Jobs Scotland and offer high quality support to voluntary sector employers across Scotland.