Research provides policy lesson ahead of post-Brexit job figures

16 August 2016

Increasing the amount of job search that jobseekers do increases their chances of finding work and leaving benefit but delivering this under an intensive supervision model for up to 35 hours a week is not cost effective, according to recent research by the Learning and Work Institute and the Department for Work and Pensions.  

With new jobs figures expected to show the jobs market remains strong, but risks of increased unemployment as the economy slows, findings from the evaluation of the Supervised Jobsearch Pilots highlight the need for intensive employment support to be personalised to an individual’s needs.

The evaluation, conducted by Learning and Work Institute on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in between January 2015 and August 2016, found that Supervised Jobsearch had an effect in supporting participants prepare for work with around half of participants surveyed reporting that the pilots helped them cope with a working routine and disciplines of the working day, improved their confidence in seeking work and helped them improve their performance in interviews, as well as preparing them for dealing with rejections.  In-depth research with participants found a range of experiences spanning from negative to positive though overall satisfaction with pilot involvement was generally low.

The evaluation accompanied Department of Work and Pensions’ own research that showed that people who attended Supervised Jobsearch spent less time on benefits and more time in employment than claimants who did not. However, any financial savings generated through reduced time on benefits and increased employment were far outweighed by the costs of delivering the pilot.

Respondents to the research said they wanted more intensive one-to-one support from advisers than was possible in the pilot, personalised support that addressed skills and qualifications needs and access to employers, including facilitation of work experience and placements.  

Stephen Evans, Deputy Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute, said this confirmed Learning and Work’s policy position: “It’s vital that we help those out of work to get back into work as quickly as possible. Supporting people to more actively seek work, tied to personalised support, is proven to do this. The challenge is to do so cost effectively. There are increasing opportunities to do this through, for example, increased use of technology, which the Government is committed to. 

Whatever happens in the economy in the coming years, it’s vital that policy is based on evidence, so pilots like these are invaluable in testing which models work well and we will continue to work with government to help develop the most effective policy .  The jobs market is strong, but we still have further to go to deliver full employment and our focus on this goal needs to increase as the headwinds from the likely economic slowdown start to take effect.”

More information on the research can be found here.

Learning and Work Institute’s first labour market figures following the vote to leave the European Union will be published tomorrow (17th August, 2016).