Staf’s Care Leavers into Employment focus group will be meeting on Wednesday 6th February 2019 – and you should join us!

This focus group offers a space to share practice, resources, and to influence policy with the ultimate aim of removing barriers for care leavers in both entering and sustaining employment.

While recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that the unemployment rate in Scotland has hit a record low[1][2] between June and August 2018, we know that care leavers are still currently less likely to enter employment upon leaving formal education than their non-care-experienced peers[3][4].

There are myriad issues facing young people with regards to employment – but two of the key and consistent issues that arise are transport and mental health. We will be taking a more thorough look into both of these issues at our next focus group.


Transport costs are regarded as a crucial barrier to employment for care leavers, with the cost of public transport – and that of fuel, car maintenance, and the cost of learning to drive in the first instance – often prohibitive. In the Connecting Voices project’s presentation on Employment Barriers, young people from East Ayrshire noted the lack of affordability of public transport as a key issue.

Whilst some local authorities may provide financial support to young people for driving lessons or public transport, there is not a consistent application of this.

We want to hear your good practice on transport – what support do you provide? Let us know at [email protected]!

Policy Suggestion: National travel bursary for all care leavers.

‘Soft Outcomes’

At our last focus group, members talked about the importance of taking into account mental health and soft skills development when looking at improving conditions to enable young people to sustain employment. While there remains a lack of up to date research looking at the link between mental ill health and care experience[5] we know that care experienced young people have often faced trauma and neglect which will have a lasting impact on their mental health and wellbeing[6].

As such, it is essential that appropriate support is in place to support young people transitioning into the workplace and to sustain their placements/employment.

We want to hear about your practice – how do you support young people facing mental health issues? How do you measure and put soft outcomes at the centre of our approach to employment? Let us know at!

Policy Suggestion: Investment in Specialist Mental Health Workers

You can book a place (free for members!) at our Care Leavers into Employment Focus group here

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[1] Of course, it is worth noting that the overall employment rate does not provide, in and of itself, the full picture regarding hours (indeed, working for just one hour a week is classed as employment by the ONS), job security, or pay level.

[2] Office for National Statistics (2018) HI11 Regional labour market: Headline indicators for Scotland

[3] Scottish Government (2018) ‘Education outcomes for looked after children: 2016 to 2017’ pp.14-15

[4] Scottish Funding Council (2018) College Leaver Destinations 2016-17  

[5] Who Cares? Scotland (2015) WCS response to the consultation on Challenges of Mental Health Services in Scotland p.5

[6] Staf (2016) Staf Consultation Response to ‘Mental Health in Scotland – a 10 year vision’