THE Scottish Government has appointed contractors to deliver new employability services in East Ayrshire.

From April 2018 the new Fair Start Scotland service will aim to help at least 38,000 people across the South West of Scotland to find employment, including those facing barriers to entering the labour market.

The £10.1m contracts have been awarded to organisations to deliver the services in Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway. The employment support services will be delivered by Start Scotland Limited, in partnership with Working Links and third sector partners Rathbone Training, The Lennox Partnership and The Wise Group.

The move comes as a result of the new powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act 2016.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, employability minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Awarding the Fair Start Scotland contracts is an important milestone in our commitment to providing Scottish employment support which will help people in Lanarkshire who are faced with barriers into work, access a fairer and more targeted support service.

“We are taking a different approach to the UK Government and listening to the views of unemployed people. By delivering Fair Start Scotland in nine contract areas we are reflecting Scotland’s different geographies, economies and population spread – as opposed to the UK Government’s approach which simply considered Scotland as one area.

“Crucially people’s participation in Fair Start Scotland will be voluntary. It will work with unemployed people to help and encourage them to see employment support as an opportunity, rather than being driven by the threat of financial sanctions.

“Our priority is that people receive high quality services, designed for their local needs and that treats them fairly and with respect.”

Blyth Deans, director at StartScotland, said: “We are thrilled to deliver the Scottish Government’s new employment support service Fair Start Scotland, which will provide a tailored and personalised service for all those who seek to return to the workplace.

“We are passionate about addressing challenges faced by those people who need our support.”