Lessons Learnt from the Past: Reflection on Working for Families Projects in Scotland on Ethnic Minority

Nidhi Sharma and Shalini Kesar


Keeping in mind lessons learnt from the previous research presented at the last two ETHICOMP conferences, this paper reflects on the most current project (Working for Families Project: 2009-2012) funded by European Social Funds and Dundee Partnership . This is phase III of an on-going research. Recognizing the success of the previous Working for Families Project (WfFP), reflected in phase I and II, a new WfFP was initiated that focuses on various issues in the context of reducing employability gap currently existing in Scotland. Results of the WfFP reflected in this paper (phase III) focuses on ethnic minority in Dundee. The main goal of this project is to train people from ethnic minority group to enhance their basic skills, including Information, Communications and Technologies (ICT) and literacy and numeracy.

In doing so, this paper conducted two groups of interviews. Group I, included same set of women, who are currently working or enrolled in higher education after receiving training/services from earlier WfFP (phase I and II). Whereas Group 2, included new set of people from ethnic minority, who are currently enrolled in this project. This was for two reasons. Firstly, we would be able to better identify and thus compare and contrast their barriers from employment point of view. Secondly, feedback from Group I will help us to further modify the existing training and service delivery to better suit the needs of Group 2 while trying to obtain employment. This is important as funding for the following years depends on the success of this project. In other words, funding depends on the number of people from ethnic minority who actually obtain employment or go into higher education. This is monitored by the government and like funding authorities.

Working for Families Project was initiated in early 2000s by the Scottish Executive where the goal was to support vulnerable or disadvantaged parents towards, into or within employment by breaking down childcare or other barriers. It underpins the Scottish Government commitment to tackling child poverty). WfFP also aims to tackle additional employability barriers such as; low skills, lack of confidence, transport, debts, substance misuse issues, and other care responsibilities . The target groups for the initiative were: Lone parents; Ethnic minority and Parents with other stresses in the household which make it difficult to sustain employment (for example, disability, mental health, family break-up and drug and alcohol problems). Main services offered were:

  • Employability Support Team – deal directly with many clients and signpost them to an appropriate Link Worker or for specialist help
  • Link workers – central to WFF with roles as recruiters, providers of guidance and advice, signposting clients to relevant employment, education and training opportunities.
  • Money Advice Support – provide a range of services including; benefit checks, and better off calculations.
  • Access to Childcare- WfFP Staff can assist clients in finding suitable childcare to enable access to work, education or training
  • Training & Education – WfFP provides a range of opportunities to improve skills and employability
  • ICT Training.
  • Dundee College – provide a range of career focused taster courses
  • Financial Assistance – many WFF clients are eligible for assistance from one of the WFF client funds
  • Childcare Subsidy Fund – provides assistance to clients who are starting work and need help
  • Barrier Free Fund – this can help clients with non-childcare related expenses

Although the main objectives of Phase III (current project) is the same as previous WfFP, the main difference in this project is that tools and techniques are being modified by keeping in mind the findings of phase I and II of this research. Kolb’s cycle is used as a way to reflect and hence outline lessons learnt from different phases of this project. Table below summarizes the findings of this paper so far.