Employability – application guidance
Connecting Scotland is a Scottish Government programme set up to tackle digital exclusion during the coronavirus crisis. It is delivered with the support of local councils, SCVO and a wide range of organisations from across Scotland and the UK.
Previous application rounds have targeted those at high clinical risk from coronavirus, families with children, young care leavers, older people and disabled people.
Phase three is now underway and aims to remove barriers related to digital exclusion for unemployed young people and adults (aged 16+).
Organisations can apply for support on behalf of the people they work with. This includes:
- Digital devices – iPads and/or Chromebooks
- Internet connectivity – a mobile WiFi hotspot with 24 months unlimited data
- Training and support – for staff and volunteers to become ‘digital champions’ to support people to use the internet confidently and safely
Who is eligible?
Organisations can apply for support for people that they work with that meet all the following criteria:
- They are digitally excluded – they currently do not have access to an appropriate device and/or internet connection at home.
- They are from a low income household – they cannot afford to buy a device or pay for internet access from their household income (e.g. claiming or eligible for Universal Credit).
- They are actively taking steps to improve their employment prospects. This includes people furthest from the labour market who are not job ready but are undertaking activity to address any barriers to employment or training (e.g. confidence building, improving health or wellbeing, ESOL programmes)
- They are currently unemployed (see the FAQs for more detailed guidance on the eligibility of people in short-term work placements or insecure employment)
Priority will be given to organisations working with people who are likely to have been affected most by the changes to the labour market over the past year, either due to existing inequalities or redundancy. This includes:
- Young people
- Disabled people
- Minority ethnic people
- Lone parents
- People experiencing other forms of socio-economic disadvantage
Getting online will help people access public services, support learning and training, help find or maintain work and reduce the risk of social isolation while coronavirus restrictions are in place.
Who can apply?
All public or third sector organisations that work to support people to address barriers to employment are eligible to apply. This includes, but is not limited to, organisations and teams working in:
- Education and training
- Youth work
- Community learning and development
- Health and well-being
- Social work
- Financial advice and support
Private sector providers delivering Government employability programmes (such as No One Left Behind, Young Person’s Guarantee, Parental Employability Support) may apply, providing they can meet the commitments to the programme.
All organisations must be able to commit to:
- Carry out an appropriate needs assessment with the intended recipients, including completion of a Connecting Scotland user agreement
- Provide details of the intended recipients, in advance of delivery
- Take delivery of devices and distribute them to recipients within 30 days
- Provide support for at least six months to end-users to help them develop their digital skills and confidence through the Digital Champions model – or have the ability to form local partnerships to help deliver this support
- Make staff and/or volunteers available for a 2.5 hour remote training session to become Digital Champions.
A full list of roles and responsibilities can be found in the template grant agreement.
SCVO will provide support for successful teams and organisations.
Previous applicants to Connecting Scotland must have successfully completed the distribution of their previous devices and submitted the required monitoring information for their application to be considered in this round.
How to apply
Each local council has an allocation of devices available to them to distribute to people living in their area through projects that are successful in their application. This is to ensure as wide geographic coverage as possible. If your organisation works in more than one area, you’ll need to complete a separate application form for each area.
There are two rounds of applications planned for 2021:
- The first application round was open until 5pm on Monday 5th July. Devices will be delivered in late August and September.
- The second application round is open until 5pm on Monday 27th September, with successful organisations receiving their devices in November and December.
Unlike previous phases of Connecting Scotland, you will be required to submit the details of people you intend to support before the devices are dispatched to you. However, you will be able to request multiple deliveries to avoid you needing to submit all recipient details at once.
The application will ask you to:
- Describe the people you work with and their digital inclusion needs
- Identify the number of devices (Chromebooks or iPads) and internet connections (mobile WiFi) you would like to apply for
- Describe how you will approach providing Digital Champion support for the people you work with
A Digital Champion is a member of staff, or a volunteer, who’s already supporting someone, and has been trained by SCVO to help them get up and running with their iPad or Chromebook.
This approach builds on the relationships and trust that your staff have already built up with people.
Digital Champions do not need to be technical people. They just need to be confident in their own digital skills. And, more importantly, they should have good interpersonal skills.
As part of their work with users, we expect Digital Champions to be able to give people regular, informal support for at least 6 months.
SCVO’s training for Digital Champions lasts 2 and a half hours and is delivered remotely. Digital champions will also get resources and ongoing support to help them fulfil their role.
How applications are assessed
Applications are assessed by SCVO and local councils. Their aim is to allocate devices to where they’re likely to have the biggest impact.
Connecting Scotland has developed scoring guidance to support the assessment process, but local councils and SCVO have the power to make the final decision.
The guidance recommends making awards to organisations based on evidence that shows they meet the following criteria:
- they have previous experience of supporting the proposed people
- how closely the needs of the people they support fit the programme’s priorities
- how much capacity they have to support people through the Digital Champion scheme
- their capacity to capture data and learning
- how they can demonstrate their organisation’s ability to deliver at speed to your proposed numbers
The criteria are not weighted, but priority will be given to applications where organisations have existing contact with people who are likely to have been affected most by the changes to the labour market over the past year and are working with staff or volunteers that can act Digital Champions.
Applications will also be assessed on the extent to which they contribute to broader social inclusion, employability or poverty reduction strategies. This includes:
- National Performance Framework
- Fairer Scotland Action Plan
- No One Left Behind: Delivery Plan
- Young Person’s Guarantee
- Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan
- Fairer Scotland for Disabled People
Useful background reading might also include:
- The joint Scottish Government and COSLA briefing – “Scotland’s Wellbeing: The Impact of COVID-19”
- The Scottish Government briefing on the impact of coronavirus on the labour market
- Skills Development Scotland’s latest “COVID-19 Labour Market Insights” publication
What you’ll need to do if your application is successful
If your application is successful, your organisation will have to sign a grant agreement with SCVO.
The agreement covers:
- the devices you’ve applied for
- your expected commitment to the programme
- SCVO’s responsibilities
It also covers general grant conditions. This covers things like:
- an agreement to comply with data protection regulations
- health and safety considerations
- protection of vulnerable groups
- other legislation that’s relevant to your organisation
- sharing monitoring and evaluation data with SCVO
Monitoring and evaluation data will be shared with local councils, and the Scottish Government, over the following 24 months.
After you have signed the grant agreement, the next steps are:
- Identify staff and/or volunteers to undertake Digital Champion training
- Identify specific people you intend to distribute devices to and confirm their eligibility
- Carry out a basic digital needs assessment and ask them to complete a Connecting Scotland User Agreement
- Submit their data and request delivery of devices in batches
- Devices will be delivered to your organisation. We ask that you issue them to people within 30 days of receiving them.
You can apply for iPads, Chromebooks or both. You need to decide which type of device is most suitable for your service users.
In this phase we anticipate that Chromebooks would suit the majority of applicants in this round, as the laptop form factor is more suitable for preparing for the world of work.
iPads come with a case for protection, but do not come with a keyboard. iPads are likely to be more suitable for:
- older people
- people who have little or no digital skills
- people with accessibility needs
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve any questions about the Connecting Scotland programme.