Skills must be a priority for an effective Work Programme

27 June 2013

NIACE urges Work Programme Providers to give more focus to the skills needs of unemployed people following the release of the latest statistics on its performance.

The figures show a month-on-month improvement in the performance of the Work Programme in supporting long-term unemployed adults back into work. However much more still needs to be done to support particular groups of people – for example those aged over 50 and adults with disabilities – who are often disadvantaged in the labour market.

Work Programme Providers have been set minimum performance levels for different groups of job seekers and today’s figures show that the proportion of people supported into sustained work within year 2 of the programme were:

  • 31.9% of young people on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) (compared to a contracted minimum performance level of 33%);
  • 27.3% of JSA claimants aged 25+ (compared to a contracted minimum performance level of 27.5%); and
  • 5.3% of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants (compared to a contracted minimum performance level of 16.5%).

Dr Fiona Aldridge, Head of Learning for Work at NIACE, said:

“The Work Programme performance statistics released today show that although more providers are now achieving their minimum performance levels for getting jobseekers into sustained work, we should remember that when this Programme started the Department for Work and Pensions said they expected providers to significantly outperform their minimum performance levels.

“This underperformance – in part a consequence of the extended economic downturn – has had serious consequences. £227million, originally set aside for the Work Programme, has had to be returned to the Treasury after providers were unable to secure enough job outcomes to claim it.

“If we are serious about ensuring that people on the fringes of the labour market avoid becoming totally excluded, or trapped in a low-pay no-pay cycle, then we need to ensure that their skills needs are being met. Investment now is crucial to support people to gain the skills they need to become more competitive when the labour market recovers.”