Skills development for Work Programme participants is crucial

27 September 2013

Skills provision should be a key priority for Work Programme participants, NIACE urges, as the latest figures on outcome rates have been released.

Robert Gray, NIACE’s lead on employability, said:

“While it is good to see the improvement in job outcome rates in the latest release of the Work Programme Official Statistics to June 2013, the programme still cannot be considered to be performing particularly well.

“Just under one-in-four (22.5%) of the people who began the programme in June 2011 have secured sustained employment leading to a job outcome payment. ERSA, the Welfare to Work industry representative body, has defended its members’ performance by revealing that 39% of the intake in June 2011 had actually started a job. However, this level of performance is still only around the minimum performance level expected by the DWP.

“The underlying fact is some people on the Work Programme require more help than others. For instance, a high proportion of long-term unemployed people have skills needs that are a major barrier to employment as described in our publication The Work Programme: What is the role of skills?

“Because the statistics reveal that a greater proportion of people now being referred into the programme will require more support and assistance, it is becoming ever more important that Work Programme participants gain access to skills provision. NIACE therefore welcomes the recent BIS and DWP initiative to bring Work Programme providers and skills providers together to promote greater partnership working. With the Adult Skills Budget facing more reductions, some skills providers may find it challenging to identify resources to supply skills provision for Work Programme participants.

“Therefore, now may be the time for skills and Work Programme providers to research new approaches to partnership working through which programme participants can acquire skills as quickly and efficiently as possible.”