The Work Programme - What is the role of skills?
The Work Programme - What is the role of skills?
The Work Programme What is the role of skills? © NIACE 2012 Published by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales) 21 De Montfort Street Leicester LE1 7GE Company registration no. 2603322 Charity registration no. 1002775 NIACE, the national organisation for adult learning, has a broad remit to promote lifelong learning opportunities for adults. NIACE works to develop increased participation in education and training, particularly for those who do not have easy access because of barriers of class, gender, age, race, language and culture, learning difficulties and disabilities, or insufficient financial resources.
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Contents Foreword . 4 Overview and recommendations . 6 Introduction . 8 1 The importance of skills in enabling people to secure and sustain employment. 9 The importance of skills in enabling unemployed people to find work . 9 The importance of skills in enabling people to remain in work . 10 The deteriorating labour market position of people with skills needs . 11 The necessity of addressing skills needs before employment . 12 2 The extent of Work Programme participant access to skills provision .
13 The number of unemployed people accessing skills provision during the pre-Work Programme stage . 13 The number of unemployed people accessing skills provision while on the Work Programme . 13 3 The nature of skills support for unemployed people . 16 Types of skills provision for unemployed people . 17 Non-formal adult learning . 18 Entry Level and Level 1 maths, English and ESOL provision . 20 Short-term QCF Level 1 or Level 2 vocational skills provision . 23 Longer-term QCF Level 2 Certificate or Diploma vocational skills provision . 25 Progresssion between different forms of skills provision .
28 4 The funding available for Work Programme participants to participate in skills provision . 29 Provision funded by the Skills Funding Agency Adult Skills Budget . 29 Provision funded by the Skills Funding Agency Community Learning Budget . 30 5 Helpful approaches to working in partnership with learning providers . 32 On making contact . 32 On getting to know one another . 33 On clarifying expectations . 33 On recognising the learning provider’s constraints . 33 On supporting participants . 34 On sharing information . 35 On maintaining effective communications . 35 5 Conclusion . 36 Annex 1: A description of the Work Programme .
37 Annex 2: Sources of further information . 39 Annex 3: Acknowledgements . 40
Foreword This is an important publication which makes the case for more skills support to unemployed people on the Work Programme, providing information and advice on how this can best be achieved. There is no comprehensive data on the skills needs of Work Programme participants. However, data on the skills needs of unemployed people generally shows that they often have English, maths, ICT, employability and vocational skills needs and that these skills needs are more prevalent among long-term unemployed people.
For Work Programme participants to have a realistic chance of finding work, remaining in work and hopefully progressing, they need the opportunity to address their skills needs.
It is surely short-sighted not to support skills development during a time of high unemployment; having people participating in purposeful learning and skills development when the labour market is so tight would appear to be a simple positive step. Work Programme Prime Providers have been given full control over the approach they take to support their participants into employment and in some cases they are incorporating skills interventions as part of that approach. However, sadly this appears to be the exception rather than the rule. This is also rather surprising, given that Work Programme providers receive the majority of their income for achieving sustained employment outcomes and that we have lots of evidence that good skills contribute strongly to help people sustain employment.
This publication sets out the case for more skills support as part of and alongside the Work Programme, provides case studies and advice on how it can be done and provides insight into the eligibility rules and programmes available.
NIACE, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, is calling for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to commission a survey of the skills needs of Jobcentre Plus customers before their referral to the Work Programme, to publish details of the skills provision accessed by participants and to commission research to ascertain the impact of skills interventions. We want all those referred to the Work Programme to have an English/English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and maths skills assessment and to be automatically referred to a learning provider if they are found to have skills needs below Level 1 and that providers facilitate the continuation of any skills provision begun by participants prior to their referral to the Work Programme.
We recommend that higher- level English/ESOL, maths, ICT, employability and vocational skills provision is made available to equip participants to secure sustainable employment. 4
I hope that Work Programme providers read this guide, develop more partnership working with learning providers and think carefully about how to incorporate skills development into their operations. We know that this will help more people into properly sustained employment and give them the chance to progress in work and go on to further development of their skills. David Hughes Chief Executive, NIACE The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 5 © Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com
Overview and recommendations The Work Programme was launched across Great Britain in June 2011.
The Programme provides intensive, personalised support for people who are long-term unemployed or who are at most risk of becoming so. The Programme provides this support for up to two years for each unemployed participant plus further in-work support once participants have found work. Work Programme Prime Providers have been given full control over the approaches they take to support their participants into sustained employment in the hope that this encourages creativity and innovation.
This publication is aimed at encouraging and helping more Work Programme providers to give their participants access to skills provision. • Chapter 1 explains the importance of skills in enabling people to secure and sustain employment. • Chapter 2 assesses the degree to which Work Programme participants currently have access to skills provision. • Chapter 3 describes the range of skills provision available for unemployed adults and includes case studies illustrating how Work Programme participants have gained skills and found sustained employment as a result.
• Chapter 4 identifies when Work Programme participants are eligible to be funded through the Skills Funding Agency to participate in skills provision.
• Chapter 5 describes helpful approaches that can be adopted by Work Programme providers when working in partnership with learning providers, including an explanation of key issues such as the need for learning providers to undertake initial assessments and the benefits to learning providers of certainty about the volume and timing of referrals.
Work Programme providers that are giving their participants access to skills provision have not published details on the approach they are taking or on the numbers of their participants involved. We acknowledge that Work Programme providers may have concerns about revealing details that might benefit their competitors. However, as skills provision for Work Programme participants is often supplied by third parties and/or funded through non-Work Programme funds, we feel it is not unreasonable to expect that in return for access to externally funded skills provision, Work Programme providers should share details of its use and impact.
Consequently, NIACE recommends that the DWP: • commissions a survey of the skills needs of Jobcentre Plus customers just prior to their referral to the Work Programme; • regularly publishes details of the skills provision accessed by Work Programme participants, with the support of Work Programme providers; and • commissions research to ascertain the impact of skills interventions towards enabling Work Programme participants to secure and sustain employment. Further recommendations from NIACE, given the necessity of acquiring skills to get and sustain jobs, are that: • the Skills Funding Agency, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Provider Representative Organisations organise events through which Work Programme providers and learning providers can meet and initiate partnership working; • on entry to the Work Programme, every individual is given an English/ ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and maths skills assessment and, where individuals are found to have English/ESOL and maths needs below Level 1, they are supported in-house or referred to a learning provider to address these needs; • Work Programme providers encourage and make it possible for other participants, through partnership working with local learning providers, to develop their English/ESOL, maths, ICT, employability and vocational skills to higher levels to equip them to secure the jobs available within their local labour market that are more likely to be sustained; and • Work Programme providers facilitate the continuation of any skills provision begun by participants prior to their referral onto the Work Programme.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 7
Introduction NIACE is the UK’s leading independent, non-governmental organisation and charity for lifelong learning. The purpose of NIACE is to advocate on behalf of adult learners and to promote more, different and better learning opportunities. NIACE particularly focuses on promoting access to learning for disadvantaged groups, including those who are economically disadvantaged such as long-term unemployed adults on the Work Programme. NIACE has been heavily involved in supporting learning providers delivering provision through the Skills Funding Agency Unit Offer for the Unemployed since its conception in 2011.
NIACE is keenly aware of the positive impact of this provision for the many unemployed adults referred to it by Jobcentre Plus during the pre-Work Programme stage of their benefit claim. Although there are some instances of Work Programme participants also benefiting in some locations, overall relatively few appear to be referred to this or other types of skills provision. This is despite a high proportion of Work Programme participants having skills needs that act as a barrier to sustained employment and Work Programme providers receiving the majority of their income for achieving sustained employment outcomes.
NIACE believes that Work Programme providers may not have sought to encourage and facilitate large numbers of their participants to address their skills needs due to a lack of awareness of the range of skills provision available and the full benefits of participation in skills provision. There also appears to be some uncertainty about the eligibility of Work Programme participants to be fully funded to participate in Skills Funding Agency- funded skills provision and the costs a Work Programme provider might be asked to meet if they did refer someone to Agency-funded skills provision. There also appears to be a need for advice on how to contact and work in partnership with learning providers who could supply this skills provision.
This publication seeks to address all of these issues.
1 The importance of skills in enabling people to secure and sustain employment The importance of skills in enabling unemployed people to find work Skills are important when people seek work because: • specific vocational skills are listed as essential application requirements for jobs in many sectors; • English/ESOL and ICT skills enable people to complete job applications and communicate more effectively during interviews; • employability skills help people to understand and meet an employer’s expectations at interview; and • the possession of skills boost an individual’s confidence and motivation thereby enabling them to perform better at interview.
The impact of literacy skills in particular has been known for some time, the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) reporting: ❝Level 1 literacy skills being associated with up to a 10 percentage point higher probability of being in employment.❞1 Unfortunately skills needs continue to act as a barrier to employment for many unemployed people. Research published in 2012 by the DWP revealed that 31.2 per cent of Job Seeker’s Allowance claimants had either no qualifications or unclassifiable qualifications.2 Further statistics made available by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) identified that: ❝Basic skills needs among benefit claimants are more than double the national average.
Nearly two fifths (38%) of claimants lack functional literacy skills and 45% lack functional numeracy skills. Of those out of work, 29% have no formal qualifications, compared to 8% of those in work. Among people receiving incapacity benefit, 40% of have no recognised qualifications.❞3 1 DfEE (2001) Basic Skills, Soft Skills and Labour Market Outcomes: Secondary Analysis of the National Child Development Study, Research Report 250.
2 DWP (2012) Mental Health in Context: The National Study of Work-Search and Wellbeing, Research Report 810. 3 CBI (2009) Jobs for the Future. 9
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 10 Unemployed people with higher-level skills tend to find work sooner than people with lower-level skills. As a result, the proportion of people with below Level 1 skills in English and maths increases with the length of time people remain on benefits (a description of skills levels is given in the annex within the 2011 Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Skills for Life Survey4 ).
It is therefore not inconceivable for a Work Programme provider to find that a large proportion of their participants have English and maths skills below Level 1. This is below the level of skills expected by many employers. A survey conducted by the Learning and Skills Network into employers’ attitudes to recruiting young people identified that: ❝Very few employers appear to be prepared to give a young candidate an entry-level job unless they have the basics … literacy, communication skills, numeracy and enthusiasm are the most important employability skills in the view of respondents, and a lack of them in a candidate is a ‘deal-breaker’ for many employers.❞5 The importance of skills in enabling people to remain in work Although more research would be welcome into how the acquisition of skills supports job sustainment, it is widely recognised that they do.
Skills help newly employed people by ensuring that they are better prepared for their job. The London Development Agency reported in 2006 that: ❝Those who have entered employment after a period of training seem to have better rates of job retention than those who have entered from ‘Work first’ provision, probably because they are better able to match the skill requirements of the jobs they are doing.❞6 Once an individual is established in a job, skills provide protection against redundancy. This is because employers are reluctant to make skilled staff redundant when business is slack as they fear they might struggle to recruit new staff with the necessary skills when business picks up in the future.
In addition, the increased productivity, lower supervisory costs and better customer relations gained through having skilled staff can make a business just resilient enough to stave off redundancies.
As a consequence of employers viewing them as ‘expendable’, many people with very low skills levels can only find short-term, low-paid employment and become trapped in a low-pay, no-pay cycle. While many factors can increase the risk of people finding themselves in this cycle, such as caring responsibilities, health problems and transport difficulties, the National Audit Office recognised low levels of skills as being a major contributory factor: 4 BIS (2012) 2011 Skills for Life Survey: Headline Findings. 5 LSN (2008) Employability Skills Explored. 6 London Development Agency (2006) What Works with Tackling Worklessness?
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 11 ❝People with low skills levels tend to move into entry-level jobs in high turnover sectors such as retail. These jobs are five times more likely to be temporary compared with all jobs.❞7 The current extent of the low-pay, no-pay cycle is revealed in a recent DWP research report, which identifies that: ❝Among those leaving Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) to enter work for an employer, a third (31 per cent) were employed on a temporary/casual basis and a further 18 per cent were employed on a fixed term contract of less than a year. By the time of interview around seven to eight months after claims ended, one-quarter (25 per cent) of JSA leavers who initially entered paid work for an employer were no longer working.
Most of these were initially working on a temporary or short fixed term contract.❞8 The deteriorating labour market position of people with skills needs Well before the recent economic downturn, global competition and increasing mechanisation was reducing the number of jobs available for people in the UK with skills needs. A recent report by the CBI recognised this long-term trend: ❝Of the 13.5m jobs that will need to be filled by 2017, over half will be for managers, professionals and technical occupations. There will continue to be a need for low-skilled workers, but overall numbers of these jobs have declined.❞9 Increased competition between job applicants since the economic downturn has given employers scope to raise their expectations of applicant skills levels for elementary jobs.
A report by the Work Foundation identified how this has led to the displacement of people with skills needs: ❝The employment rate for those with no qualifications fell markedly during the recession, as competition for entry level posts has become intense, with those leaving relatively more skilled jobs competing for those jobs which are available.❞10 7 National Audit Office (2007) Sustainable Employment: Supporting People to Stay and Advance. 8 DWP (2012) Destinations of Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Employment and Support Allowance Leavers 2011, Research Report 791.
9 CBI (2011) Mapping the Route to Growth: Rebalancing Employment. 10 The Work Foundation (2011) The Hourglass and the Escalator: Labour Market Change and Mobility.
These factors led the Institute for Fiscal Studies to report that: ❝The data suggest that it is low-skilled, low-educated and younger workers whose labour market prospects have suffered most as the UK entered recession in 2008.❞11 The necessity of addressing skills needs before employment In an ideal world, Work Programme providers would be able to help their participants secure work and then help them to increase their skills levels once in work to increase the sustainability of their job.
For a proportion of Work Programme participants this is possible, apprenticeships being an ideal vehicle through which people can gain skills once in work. Unfortunately, for the majority of Work Programme participants, this ‘work first’ approach is unrealistic because: • there are now far fewer jobs for which employers are willing to recruit people without a basic level of English, maths, ICT and employability skills; and • research by the Federation of Small Businesses indicates that many employers only want to invest in skills training that leads to bottom line impact: ❝Small businesses are reluctant to provide training in literacy and numeracy as opposed to job relevant skills that will bring immediate benefits.❞12 The obvious conclusion to be drawn, given the necessity of acquiring skills to get and sustain jobs, is that Work Programme participants with skills needs must be given the opportunity to undertake skills provision prior to employment to enable them to: • reach at least Level 1 in English/ESOL and maths; and • gain the ICT, employability skills and vocational skills at higher levels to equip them to secure the sustained jobs available within their local labour market.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills?
12 11 IFS (2009) Living Standards During Previous Recessions. 12 Federation of Small Businesses (2011) Raising the Standards: An FSB Skills Survey.
2 The extent of Work Programme participant access to skills provision The number of unemployed people accessing skills provision during the pre-Work Programme stage In 2011/12 the Data Service revealed that more than 203,300 people in England benefited from skills provision for unemployed adults funded by the Skills Funding Agency.13 The majority of these learners gained access to skills provision during the pre- Work Programme stage of their benefit claim through partnership working arrangements between learning providers and Jobcentre Plus.
As Skills Conditionality arrangements are increasingly used by Jobcentre Plus to encourage Job Seeker’s Allowance customers to address skills needs, a further increase in the numbers of unemployed people participating in skills provision at the pre-Work Programme stage of their benefit claim is expected.
The number of unemployed people accessing skills provision while on the Work Programme As a result of increasing referrals to learning providers by Jobcentre Plus advisers, many more people will gain skills they need at the pre-Work Programme stage of their benefit claim. However, it will never be possible to leave the acquisition of skills solely to the pre- Work Programme stage because: • some people with skills needs will miss out on participating in skills provision at the pre-Work Programme stage; • some are given early entry to the Work Programme and spend too little time at the pre-Work Programme stage to address their skills needs; and • many require more than the nine months to one year commonly available at the pre- Work Programme stage to address skills needs particularly if they begin maths/English/ESOL at Pre-Entry Level, Entry Level 1 or Entry Level 2.
These people will often benefit from a continuation of their pre-Work Programme skills provision once they are on the Work Programme to enable them to attain Level 1 and to attain vocational skills.
13 The Data Service (2012) Statistical First Release. 13
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 14 It is difficult to ascertain the volume of skills provision being made available to Work Programme participants due to the very little information being available on the nature and extent of interventions within the Work Programme. This is due to: • the lack of publicly funded research into Work Programme provision; and • the lack of detailed descriptions of provision from Work Programme Prime and Sub- Prime Providers themselves. The Provider Minimum Service Delivery Standards published by the DWP indicate that 11 of the 18 Work Programme Prime Providers are committed to providing elements of skills provision in their offer to participants, although in some cases it appears their minimum offer is limited to online employability skills and/or IT skills training.14 Only three Prime Providers have committed to offering ‘vocational training’ within their contract package area (CPA).
It was always understood that Work Programme providers would innovate above and beyond the descriptions they gave as their minimum standards. Indeed, the DWP’s list of supply chain details by CPA includes at least one further education college or training provider in each Work Programme CPA, showing that there is the potential for skills provision to be available in at least one location within every CPA.15 However, unfortunately there is no published data on the volume of referrals made to these learning providers, their geographic coverage or the diversity of the skills provision they offer to Work Programme participants.
It is likely that some Work Programme Prime and Sub-Prime Providers that are not immediately recognisable as training providers on the supply chain list also provide elements of in-house skills provision, but it is difficult to ascertain how common this is. This in-house provision may also be quite limited in scope, as Inclusion reported of in-house ESOL provision in London: ❝The ESOL delivered in-house by primes appeared to be for short periods of time. This training was focused on key vocabulary for particular jobs and to ensure that customers could understand, for example, health and safety instructions.❞16 In addition to skills provision delivered by learning providers that are Sub-Prime Providers, skills provision can be offered by other learning providers on a non-contracted basis where the sole income for the delivery of the provision is drawn down from the learning provider’s Skills Funding Agency budget allocation.
14 DWP (2011) Provider Minimum Service Delivery Standards. 15 DWP (2012) Supply Chain Details by Contract Package Area – Work Programme. 16 Inclusion (2012) Analysis of English Language Employment Support Provision in London for JSA and ESA WRAG Customers.
Given that skills provision is more effective in securing sustained employment outcomes in comparison to ‘work first’-type interventions, we might expect skills interventions to feature prominently in Work Programme provision. However, from NIACE’s ongoing contact with learning providers delivering skills provision for unemployed adults, provision for Work Programme participants appears patchy and often transient. The only consistently available provision appears to be in locations where learning providers happen to be Work Programme Prime or Sub–Prime Providers themselves, or in the few locations where learning providers have developed particularly strong non-contracted relationships with Work Programme providers.
This confirms the CBI’s conclusion that: ❝Ensuring the Work Programme is joined up with the skills system and it is flexible enough to meet the needs of the unemployed is essential ... but . While there are good examples of where providers are taking action to join up services and funding streams with the Work Programme, progress remains limited.❞17 The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 15 17 CBI (2012) Work in Progress: Fulfilling the Potential of the Work Programme. © runzelkorn/Shutterstock.com
3 The nature of skills support for unemployed people In recognition that it was going to become increasingly difficult for people with low skills levels to find secure work and to address predicted future skills shortages within the UK economy, the Leitch Review of Skills recommended that the UK adopted an integrated employment and skills approach to supporting unemployed adults.18 The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has since embraced integrated employment and skills and has gone as far as recommending that all OECD countries shift: ❝From a ‘Work-first’ approach to active labour market policy to a ‘Train-first’ approach for those at high risk of long-term unemployment in the context of the downturn.❞19 Since the Leitch Review of Skills in 2006,20 skills provision in the UK has dramatically increased and evolved to meet the needs of unemployed adults.
Large volumes of skills provision are now available tailored specifically for unemployed adults, for instance, through the Adult Skills Budget-funded Offer for the Unemployed and the European Social Fund (ESF)-funded Skills Support for the Unemployed programme. To ensure that the provision meets the needs of unemployed adults, providers can often make the provision: • bespoke, so that it meets the needs of unemployed adults from a single referral source or meets a specific employer’s needs; • needs-based, so that it meets the needs of a specific cohort of unemployed people, for example personal development/motivational programmes for very long-term unemployed people or young unemployed people; • flexible, to enable it to flex around participants’ other commitments; • roll on, roll off, or with frequent new start dates, to ensure that participants are not kept waiting to start; • intensive, to enable unemployed participants to gain skills as rapidly as possible, particularly in Entry Level and Level 1 English, maths, ICT and ESOL, which might otherwise require a considerable length of time to achieve; 18 HMSO (2006) Leitch Review of Skills: Prosperity for All in the Global Economy: World Class Skills.
19 OECD (2009) Employment Outlook: Tackling the Jobs Crisis.
20 HMSO (2006) Leitch Review of Skills: Prosperity for All in the Global Economy: World Class Skills. 16
• blended, so that learners can acquire skills through an accessible combination of different learning formats including classroom-based face-to-face tuition, e-learning and experiential learning in simulated or actual work environments; • labour market intelligence led, sector specific and short, taking full advantage of the flexibilities within the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). This enables participants to achieve nationally recognised unit achievement certificates for short periods of study that equip them with the skills needed within the local labour market; and • embedded, so that it includes specific maths, English, ICT or employability skills elements in combination with vocational skills to meet the requirements of individual employers or sectors.
Types of skills provision for unemployed people The types of learning provision through which many unemployed people acquire skills are illustrated in the following diagram. Figure 1. Types of skills provision leading to an increased chance of securing sustained employment The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 17 Type 1 Non-formal adult learning where helpful for specific groups, e.g. for homeless adults and people with mental health difficulties. Type 2 Intensive, contextualised, Entry Level and Level 1 English, maths and ESOL full qualifications with embedded employability skills, ICT and personal development content as needed.
Type 3 Short course Level 1 or level 2 vocational skills units plus embedded Level 1/2 maths, English, ICT and/or employability skills content. Type 4 Longer term Level 2 vocational qualifications often taken on a full-time basis between the ages of 16 and 24, taken while unemployed through the Unit Offer or taken while in work, often through an Apprenticeship.
Although the diagram gives a simplified linear representation of what can sometimes be a much more complex journey, it is helpful in illustrating what types of provision are typically offered to unemployed adults with different skills needs. Each type is described in detail below with a case study illustrating its impact. Non-formal adult learning Non-formal learning can be very valuable for people facing significant challenges and/or health difficulties, for example homeless adults, people at risk of substance misuse and people with mental health difficulties. People in these circumstances are often isolated and distressed.
Non-formal learning aims to give learners: • a sense of purpose and achievement; • greater confidence and self-esteem; • opportunities to interact with others; and • helpful structure and routines if their lives have become somewhat chaotic. It can be particularly helpful in supporting people to persist in making positive life changes, such as when trying to abstain from drugs and alcohol. The content, level and duration of non-formal learning is often determined on an individual basis, i.e. personalised, to ensure it is accessible and relevant to the circumstances and needs of each learner.
It is delivered in a flexible format to ensure that the provision can accommodate the often very great challenges faced by the learners in their day-to-day lives. It is often unaccredited as many of the learners could not meet the demands of accreditation.
Non-formal learning is often used to provide a stepping stone into more formal learning provision for people whose circumstances would make it difficult for them to immediately succeed in formal learning. Where this is the case, strong links will exist between non-formal and more formal learning provision to ensure a seamless transition between them. The level of formal learning into which people progress will often be determined by prior formal learning attainment rather than the content and level of the learning an individual undertakes through non-formal learning. The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 18
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 19 Crewe YMCA Football Academy Each year Crewe YMCA provides temporary supported accommodation and training provision through its Foyer and LifeAcademy@189 for up to 130 single homeless young people aged between 16 and 25. Although its Football Academy, part of the LifeAcademy@189, is open to anyone, the majority of participants are single, homeless young men aged between 19 and 25. Some participants are referred from organisations outside the Foyer such as the Youth Offending Team (YOT) and Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT). A number of the participants are involved in the criminal justice system and many are at risk of offending.
Some have drug or alcohol issues and/or mental health problems. On joining the Academy, the participants’ physical health is often poor and their educational potential often unrealised due to their chaotic lifestyles and personal histories. For young men in these circumstances, football is a very useful engagement tool.
As well as having the opportunity to develop their football skills at any level and to join two teams that play in local leagues, participants also take part in an embedded life skills learning programme focusing on: • anger management • teamwork • planning ahead • body management • self-motivation • managing emotions The life skills components are delivered jointly by a life skills tutor and a football coach, in part through pitch-side learning using the medium and language of football. After a few weeks, all the participants show signs of increased well-being and there is a demonstrable impact on their optimism and confidence.
Almost all the participants with drug and alcohol issues report dramatically reduced levels of alcohol and substance misuse. One learner, who became a volunteer at Crewe YMCA after completing the course, both re-established contact with his family and found employment. He commented: “The Academy has helped me to get my life moving again. It was great to be part of a team even though I wasn’t a great footballer.” Since it began, more than 60 young people have graduated from the Football Academy. Almost all are now living independently and many are now in work or training. In the past few months, an intensive one-week format has been trialled very successfully with 12 starters and 11 completers.
The programme has gained recognition externally with one of the Football Academy trainers managing the England team and two of the female residents playing in the women’s team in Mexico at the Homeless World Cup in October 2012.
Entry Level and Level 1 maths, English and ESOL provision In the UK, it is very difficult to cope in most workplaces with below Entry Level 3 English/maths/ESOL skills. Many employers expect considerably higher skills and a lot of recent media attention has been given to employers’ concerns that many job applicants’ English/maths/ESOL skills are insufficient. Recognising that unemployed people with English and maths skills needs are highly disadvantaged in the labour market, the Coalition Government announced, within their further education and skills reform plan, New Challenges, New Chances,21 their intention to: • prioritise young adults and unemployed adults who lack English and maths skills; and • establish effective and timely screening by Jobcentre Plus advisers of the English and maths needs of relevant benefit claimants.
Unemployed adults with English/ESOL and maths needs are now a major source of referrals to English/ESOL and maths provision within further education and community learning providers. Most of these unemployed adults are referred at the Pre-Work Programme stage of their benefit claim by their Jobcentre Plus adviser. Where this provision is specific to unemployed adults, the learning materials are often contextualised to give learners the specific English, maths and ESOL skills required in employment. Employability skills and personal development content is sometimes embedded too.
There is considerable variation in the time it takes for individual learners to move between English, maths and ESOL levels.
Therefore some individuals may require much greater time than the recommended guided learning hours specified by awarding organisations for each qualification. Typical completion times are: • 350 guided learning hours for a learner to go from Entry Level 1 to Level 1 maths; • 350 guided learning hours for Entry Level 1 to Level 1 English; and • 400 guided learning hours for a learner to go from Entry Level 1 to Entry Level 3 ESOL (covering speaking and listening only and where the learner is already literate in their own language and has good learning skills).
Because of the length of time it takes to develop English, maths or ESOL skills, learning providers sometimes offer intensive provision for unemployed adults. On completion of Level 1 English, maths or ESOL provision, while it is possible for people to find employment, it may be difficult for them to find sustained employment if they don’t have vocational skills to offer also. Therefore many participants would benefit from progressing from English, maths and ESOL at Level 1 to short course Level 1 or Level 2 vocational skills provision.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 20 21 BIS (2011) New Challenges, New Chances.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 21 Abrahim Abrahim came to the UK from Somalia several years ago. After being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK and permission to work, Abrahim sought help from Jobcentre Plus. He was subsequently referred to Acorn Training in Leicester, a Sub-Prime Provider of Action for Employment’s (A4E) Work Programme in the East Midlands. During their first meetings, Abrahim and his Acorn Training Work Programme Consultant discussed Abrahim’s barriers to work and formulated a plan to address these. Abrahim said he was keen to undertake further ESOL as he felt that would help him find work.
His Consultant agreed that this might be helpful and arranged for Abrahim to undertake an ESOL initial assessment with a visiting tutor from Leicester College. Abrahim was found to have ESOL skills at Entry Level 3 and he was invited to the next intensive Level 1 ESOL course at Leicester College.
Bespoke, intensive ESOL provision is delivered by Leicester College for Acorn Training Work Programme participants. Each ESOL course consists of ESOL, numeracy and ICT with employability skills. The focus of the ESOL content is on the enhancement of language competence in relation to employability skills. Learners are encouraged to develop and practice new language competences through giving presentations, taking part in practice interviews and writing CVs and personal statements. Equality, diversity and inclusion and health and safety are also important components of each course. In addition to bespoke ESOL provision, Leicester College offers bespoke basic skills provision for Work Programme participants from Acorn Training and offers places to Work Programme participants on its vocational skills provision for unemployed adults.
On receiving an invitation letter from Leicester College giving the course start details, Abrahim let his Acorn Training adviser know he was happy to join on the date offered. To help ensure a seamless transfer between Acorn Training and Leicester College, on the first day of each course, all the participants initially met at Acorn Training. The Acorn Training ESOL consultant and all the participants then walked together to the Leicester College site a short distance away. Once at the College, the ESOL consultant gave a short talk during the course induction to motivate the learners and to reassure them that they could contact Acorn Training at any time if they needed help.
The Acorn Training consultant also reminded the learners that they needed to keep on looking for work, needed to attend appointments at Acorn Training and still needed to sign on while they attend their course.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 22 Other elements of the induction for participants included a full diagnostic assessment, an in- depth introduction to the provision and an introduction to the College and its full range of support services for students. Abrahim’s adviser from Acorn Training continued to meet with him regularly while he undertook his ESOL course. In order for Abrahim to reach the college each day, Acorn Training provided travel expenses for the duration of the course. Abrahim was very happy to undertake the ESOL provision as he had previously felt stressed when not working or studying.
The Level 1 ESOL provision was intensive, running from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, five days per week for 12 weeks. ESOL provision at Pre-Entry Level, Entry Level 1 or Entry Level 2 at the College is available in mixed ability classes either for three hours per day, five days per week for ten weeks, or as a blended learning option each week comprising nine hours’ class contact, two hours’ tutorial and four hours of guided individual study. The intensity of Abrahim’s provision enabled him to work towards the full ESOL Level 1 qualification comprising speaking and listening and reading and writing elements.
Practical job application support embedded in the ESOL provision included learning how to: • use the internet to look for work • use maps and transport systems to reach employers • respond positively and confidently to interview questions • follow application instructions While on the course, Abrahim got to know the other learners very well and remains friends with many. Shortly after completing the course, Abrahim found and applied for the full-time, permanent job he has now secured as a packer in a warehouse.
Acorn Training continued to support Abrahim after he began his job. Part of this support involved purchasing a bicycle to enable Abrahim to get to work when he was on nightshifts. In addition, Acorn Training contacted the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) to enquire about Abrahim’s request for a passport. This was necessary because Abrahim had sent in his ILR documentation to the UKBA as part of his passport application and while waiting for his new passport to arrive, he didn’t have his ILR documents to show his employer as proof of his identity or permission to work.
On being asked if the skills provision was helpful in securing his job, Abrahim said: “I needed to complete an application form for the job and use English at the interview.
I could not have done these things without the ESOL course. I also need to be able to communicate in English because my job involves working in a team and we use English to communicate to each other.”
3 Short-term QCF Level 1 or Level 2 vocational skills provision Since the recession in 2008, increasing numbers of learning providers have begun to deliver short-term Level 1 or Level 2 vocational skills provision for unemployed adults. The provision is generally sector specific and designed to meet local labour market skills needs as revealed by labour market intelligence. Learning providers will often deliver provision for more than one sector, larger providers often providing different courses covering eight or more sectors at any one time. The provision involves short, intensive vocational skills interventions resulting in the achievement of QCF units or small QCF qualifications such as Awards.
It typically takes place on a full-time basis and lasts between two and eight weeks. Once QCF units have been achieved, people can build on these at a later time, including when in employment, to gain full QCF Award, Certificate or Diploma qualifications.
The provision will also often include embedded Level 1 or Level 2 English, maths or employability skills content as required by learners to meet sector and/or job specification requirements. The provision can be designed in conjunction with employers to meet the needs of actual job vacancies. When it is delivered in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, designed to meet the needs of actual vacancies and involves a combination of training, work experience and a guaranteed interview, it is called a Sector-Based Work Academy. Work Programme participants are unlikely to be able to join Sector-Based Work Academies that involve Jobcentre Plus as places will often be filled with pre-Work Programme Jobcentre Plus customers.
However, there is nothing to prevent Work Programme providers adopting the role of Jobcentre Plus themselves and establishing their own Sector-Based Work Academy-type provision in partnership with a learning provider and local employers.
Where provision is linked to actual job vacancies, it can be very effective in supporting unemployed adults into employment, with all the linked job vacancies often being filled by provision participants. Participants that do not secure one of the vacancies linked to the provision often go on to secure jobs in the wider labour market as a direct result of their newly acquired skills. This type of provision is becoming increasingly necessary as people need to acquire new vocational skills to transfer from occupations in decline to those in demand. In response to increasing rates of change in employer demand seen in most developed economies, the OECD recommends that: ❝People need to be able to access local employment and training systems throughout their working lives to adapt to new and emerging skills requirements through flexible systems of ‘lifelong learning.❞22 The Work Programme: What is the role of skills?
23 22 OECD (2010) Putting in Place Jobs That Last.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 24 Chris After he had been out of work for a year, Chris was referred to the Work Programme delivered in the North East Region by Ingeus. During that year, he had applied for many jobs but had not received a single invitation to interview from an employer. On meeting his Ingeus Work Programme Adviser, Chris explained that he wanted to gain skills that would enable him to find work and give him a long-term career. During initial appointments with his Ingeus Adviser, Chris was helped to consider a variety of training and work options.
He chose to undertake a five-week Level 2 Care Skills Simulation course through the Employment Gateway from Intraining, with which Ingeus has a partnership working arrangement.
On joining the Intraining Employment Gateway, Chris was introduced to a Gateway Adviser who checked to ensure that Chris understood the nature of the course and that it was going to meet his aspirations. To ensure that Chris could cope with the demands of the course, it was arranged for him to undertake diagnostic assessments in English, maths, IT and employability skills. As the test results showed Chris possessed the necessary skills, he began the course shortly afterwards. The course was intensive, running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., three days per week, for five weeks. The content included sections on: • an introduction to care; • the principles of communication in care; • support to meet care needs; • the care of deceased people; and • optional units on infection prevention and control, principles of safeguarding, and inclusion in dementia care.
In addition, the course included the involvement of a number of care companies such as Careline Lifestyle, Care UK, Careline and Castle Rock. Chris said it really helped that on starting the course: “The tutor was approachable and understanding, the group was friendly and the environment was nice. It all felt well planned.” While waiting for the course to start, Chris had taken part in a one-day course on interview techniques and within two weeks of starting the course, Intraining arranged an interview with a local employer. To help Chris prepare for this interview, Intraining provided further one-to-one support through its employer engagement team.
Chris said: “The interview was a bit daunting as it was with a panel of three people. However, lots of the questions that we had discussed in my interview techniques training came up in the interview so I couldn’t have been better prepared.”
Longer-term QCF Level 2 Certificate or Diploma vocational skills provision Longer-term vocational skills provision is generally undertaken prior to employment if a full Level 2 qualification is a desirable or essential requirement for entry into a particular occupation. Although more commonly undertaken by young people aged 16 to 24 on a full-time basis, unemployed adults aged 19+ can join these courses through the Unit Offer for the Unemployed if a learning provider and Jobcentre Plus or their Work Programme provider all agree that a longer course is appropriate. Courses are often about 15 hours per week and last between six months and two years.
Alternatively, and much more commonly, adults complete a longer Level 2 or Level 3 vocational qualification on becoming employed, sometimes as part of an Apprenticeship. The Work Programme: What is the role of skills?
25 Chris was delighted to receive a job offer following the interview. While awaiting the outcome of the mandatory Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, Chris completed his Level 2 Care Skills Simulation course. On completing this course, Chris was keen to undertake further training and his adviser arranged for him to meet with a college tutor who helped him to start a Mental Health Awareness Level 1 course and a Working in the Health Sector Level 2 course. Because the Working in the Health Sector Level 2 course continued for three days per week for several weeks after Chris started his job, Chris had to ask his employer if his hours of work could be flexed to accommodate the course.
His new employer agreed that Chris could work at weekends and undertake some night shifts to make up the hours he missed while at college.
Chris’s plans for the future are to continue working as a care assistant while undertaking the further qualifications he needs to enable him to apply to train to become a nurse. Reflecting on the outcome, Chris said: “Without the Employment Gateway, I don’t know what I would’ve done regarding getting into college or getting a job. The only difficult time whilst on the programme was the three weeks whilst I had to wait for my course to start. I had my doubts at that time as I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy it. My Ingeus adviser was really helpful at that time – really supportive.
Now I have these skills I don’t think I will ever have much of a problem getting another job.”
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 26 Tom On completing a custodial sentence, Tom was referred to the Work Programme delivered by City of Bristol College as part of JHP Training’s Work Programme provision in the South West (Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and West of England). Tom was adamant that he wanted his life to change and because he felt working would help bring this change about; he was very motivated to find employment. However, he was very aware that his criminal record could be a major barrier to him obtaining work which caused him to feel negative at times and eroded his self-confidence.
Tom initially met with Claire, his City of Bristol College Work Adviser, on a weekly basis, during which time they discussed his circumstances and aspirations and developed an action plan. One of the first actions on the plan was to gather details of Tom’s prior experience and attainment. Tom had volunteered for approximately three years for the SOFA Project and at a local community project. Tom had also had short periods of paid employment as a builder’s labourer. As a result of his varied experience, Tom’s CV was impressive.
Although Tom said that he just wanted to find work and was willing to do anything, his Work Adviser explained that to even get the warehouse work that Tom suggested he might try for, it would be helpful to undertake some training.
His Work Adviser suggested that Tom undertake a Reach Forklift Truck Licence course and further maths, English and IT training. While serving his custodial sentence, Tom had completed English and maths qualifications at Entry 3 and Level 1 and so when he was referred to Brunel and Gordano Training at the City of Bristol College to undertake Level 2 English and Level 2 maths, he had a good understanding of what was involved.
The Level 2 English and maths provision at Brunel and Gordano Training was intensive, running from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. each day for five days per week. It was contextualised to enable learners to develop the language skills needed for work. Wider employability skills were also embedded to help learners develop team working, personal organisation and self- presentation skills. The fork-lift truck training was undertaken over three days with Brunel and Gordano Training. Tom’s motivation to complete his Level 2 in English and maths was boosted by the knowledge that he would be able to undertake his fork-lift truck training subsequently.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 27 While Tom completed his English, maths and fork-lift truck training courses, he continued to meet regularly with his Work Adviser who supported him in writing speculative letters to employers and gave him support on interview technique. As well as encouraging him to apply for other positions, his Work Adviser suggested that he seek an Apprenticeship as she felt that an Apprenticeship employer might be able to offer Tom more support and might be more understanding of his past difficulties.
After having set up an account for Tom on the National Apprenticeship Service website, Tom and his Work Adviser began applying for Apprenticeship vacancies.
Tom also applied in his own time. After making five applications, Tom was offered an interview for an Apprenticeship within a packing and distribution firm. The interview went well and Tom was invited to a second interview at which he was asked about his criminal record. Tom was honest in giving details of what he had done. He also said he had learnt his lesson and that he wanted to change his life. After considering Tom’s interview responses, his CV and references, the employer decided to offer Tom the position.
City of Bristol College continues to provide in-work support for Tom. Key elements of this have included: • purchasing several weekly bus passes to enable Tom to get to work until he received his first pay cheque; • helping Tom evidence his prior English and maths attainment so this could count towards his Apprenticeship framework requirements; and • helping Tom appreciate the longer-term benefits of completing his Apprenticeship when he was tempted to apply for a job that offered better pay but fewer opportunities to progress.
Tom recently told his Work Adviser that he feels very settled with his employer and is looking forward to completing his Apprenticeship and hopefully progressing further within the company.
On considering the value of Tom’s skills provision, his Work Adviser said: “Whilst not wanting to minimise the important contribution Tom’s determination and resilience made in helping him realise his aspiration to find work, he would not have been as attractive to an employer without his English, maths and fork-lift truck qualifications. His skills provision acted as a stepping stone towards his employment goals.”
Progression between different forms of skills provision At present, progression from one type of provision to another is not well established and unemployed people tend to access only one type of provision, often during the pre-work programme stage of their benefit claim. However, where learning providers are either Work Programme Sub-Prime Providers themselves or are working in partnership with Work Programme providers, there are increasing instances of people joining Entry Level English, maths or ESOL provision at the pre-Work Programme stage of their benefit claim and then progressing while on the Work Programme to short-term QCF Level 1 or Level 2 vocational skills provision.
Clearly, unemployed adults with Entry Level 1 skills face a long learning journey through which they will acquire skills that will help them secure sustained employment. However, the two-year maximum duration of the Work Programme allows time for this journey to take place. The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 28 © Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.com
29 4 The funding available for Work Programme participants to participate in skills provision Provision funded by the Skills Funding Agency Adult Skills Budget At the time of this publication, Work Programme participants in England are eligible to be fully funded through the Skills Funding Agency Adult Skills Budget to participate in every form of skills provision available to other unemployed adults.
This eligibility is clearly set out in the 2011 Jobcentre Plus/Skills Funding Agency Skills Conditionality Toolkit: ❝Work Programme participants are eligible to access Agency funded provision including careers and skills advice. It is up to individual colleges and training organisations to decide if they wish to use their public funding to meet the needs of this cohort of learners, and this decision should be made whilst considering the wider context of local demand for funded places. Next Step should consider if they can add value to the process particularly where the claimant has previously accessed the service.❞23 Adult Skills Budget-funded skills provision encompasses three of the four forms of skills provision described in detail in Chapter 3, these being: • Entry Level and Level 1 maths, English and ESOL provision; • short-term QCF Level 1 or Level 2 vocational skills provision; and • longer-term QCF Level 2 Certificate or Diploma vocational skills provision.
In addition to ensuring that all unemployed people are eligible to be fully funded to participate in provision funded by the Skills Funding Agency at any level in 2012/13 and up to and including Level 2 from 2013/14, the government has stated that it wishes young people in particular to acquire skills through a routeway involving the Work 23 Jobcentre Plus/Skills Funding Agency (2011) Skills Conditionality Toolkit.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 30 Programme: ❝We are clear that the needs of young people are particularly important and want providers to work together to develop a progressive routeway to jobs and Apprenticeships which reflects the needs of each local community and economy. So we will look to Work Programme and skills providers to work together to meet the needs of young people who are least likely to find work because they don’t have the skills and experience employers are looking for. The routeway can bring together basic skills training (including English and maths) to the level employers expect, training in sectoral/vocational areas needed locally, combined with tasters and visits as well as work experience.
This will make use of the flexibilities in both systems, bringing the welfare and skills reforms together to support young people to progress through learning into jobs and Apprenticeships. We will explore what more we can do to best meet the needs of young people with low skills levels.❞24 Where a learning provider’s costs are fully covered by the funding they can draw down from the Skills Funding Agency, they may be able to offer skills provision for Work Programme participants on a free-of-charge basis to a Work Programme provider. If this is the case, the learning provider will, in effect, be delivering the skills provision without the need for a contract with the Work Programme provider, i.e.
on a non-contracted basis.
However, some learning providers may find that the costs of supporting Work Programme participants are not fully covered by the funding they can draw down from the Skills Funding Agency, or that they have used up their Skills Funding Agency budgets in their delivery of learning to other learners. In this case, the learning provider may have to ask the Work Programme provider to contribute to the costs of the skills provision. Where this happens, the learning provider in effect becomes a Work Programme Sub-Prime contractor. The government’s view is that: ❝Colleges and training providers are free to negotiate with prime or sub- contractors to meet the needs of Work Programme customers.❞25 Provision funded by the Skills Funding Agency Community Learning Budget Non-formal learning for people facing major challenges in their lives, the other element of skills provision described in detail in section 3, is available through a wide range of learning providers and third-sector organisations.
Where it is publicly funded this is 24 HM Government (2011) Building Engagement, Building Futures. 25 BIS (2012) Spotlight on Training for the Unemployed.
generally through the Skills Funding Agency Community Learning Budget. This budget has traditionally been held by, and delivered through, Local Authority education departments or further education colleges and their sub-contractors. Since 2011/12, providers have received a single community learning funding allocation to enable them to use this budget more flexibly to meet local needs, while maintaining a balanced offer across their community. Delivery of community learning in England is achieved through the following programme elements: • Personal and Community Development Learning (PCDL) • Family English, Maths and Language (FEML) • Wider Family Learning (WFL) • Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities (NLDC) Providers have flexibility in how they use their allocations to deliver across the four programme areas.
Providers are free to decide how they meet their funding commitments and how they respond to the needs of their local communities, as long as a balanced offer is delivered. PCDL and NLDC are the forms of this provision that may be helpful for unemployed people facing major challenges in their lives. The Skills Funding Agency requires learning providers are required to focus community learning funding on: ❝Supporting and engaging with disadvantaged learners and groups and creating progression pathways towards the wider learning continuum, including, but not limited to skills-focused learning and employment.❞26 Providers are required to collect fee income from people who can afford to pay.
Those who happen to be Work Programme participants in England and who refer themselves to the community learning provision would be considered to be unable to afford to pay fees themselves by virtue of being on state benefits. However, when referred by their Work Programme provider, learning providers may interpret the following statement from the Skills Funding Agency as making it necessary to request a financial contribution from the Work Programme provider as: ❝Community Learning providers must develop and implement a policy on fee income/charging and seek to collect fees from those adults who can afford to pay not only to widen access to community learning opportunities but also to ensure that the maximum amount of public funding can be focussed on disadvantaged learners.❞27 The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 31 26 Skills Funding Agency (2012) Funding Rules 2012/13.
27 Skills Funding Agency (2012) Funding Rules 2012/13.
5 Helpful approaches to working in partnership with learning providers Although Work Programme providers and learning providers will always endeavour to work together in the best interests of Work Programme participants, their different constraints, funding requirements and organisational cultures will inevitably lead to tensions and misunderstandings. Therefore, even if learning providers are delivering skills provision for Work Programme participants on a non-contracted basis, it might be helpful to adopt a formal joint agreement describing agreed outputs and protocols which can be monitored and managed.
Learning providers are often used to working in partnership and may have helpful established partnership working practices that can be built into the joint partnership agreement.
Helpful approaches when working in partnership with learning providers include the following. On making contact In the vicinity of a Work Programme provider there may be several learning providers that are in a position to supply Skills Funding Agency-funded skills provision for Work Programme participants. Some learning providers may already be supplying skills provision for unemployed adults referred by Jobcentre Plus or other Work Programme providers. To identify learning providers already supplying this type of provision, Work Programme providers could ask Jobcentre Plus or ask their participants who have undertaken skills provision during the pre-Work Programme stage of their benefit claim.
Work Programme providers could also approach the Skills Funding Agency to ask who their nearest supplier might be.
Work Programme providers can use the descriptions of different types of skills provision in section 3 of this publication to identify which type(s) of skills provision would be helpful for their participants. On making contact, it is helpful if the Work Programme provider lets the learning provider know which type of skills provision they have in mind because different departments within the learning provider may be responsible for different types of skills provision. 32
Work Programme providers should approach the learning provider through the Principal or Chief Executive in the first instance.
The Principal or Chief Executive will refer the Work Programme provider on to the relevant member of staff who can work with them to identify how their needs can be met. On getting to know one another Providing opportunities for staff from different organisations to shadow each other can be a very effective way to build mutual knowledge and understanding. Within learning providers, tutors can have significant levels of autonomy and therefore it is helpful for the Work Programme provider to familiarise themselves with each tutor delivering the provision and to ensure that all the tutors are well informed at all times.
On clarifying expectations It is important for the Work Programme provider to be a clear as possible in articulating their aims for the participants joining skills provision. Learning providers are often able to offer a very wide range of provision and are able to deliver this in a variety of formats. It is therefore likely that they will be able to accommodate the aims of Work Programme providers if these are made clear to them. Learning providers are also often able to offer additional services in addition to the skills provision, for instance: • Work Clubs and other forms of job search support; • extended information, advice and guidance (IAG) services; • counselling services; and • employer engagement services required to establish Apprenticeships, work trials and work experience placements.
On recognising the learning provider’s constraints Learning providers need certainty about the volume and timing of referrals to enable them to assign staff and accommodation to the provision. Learning providers are able to draw down income from their Skills Funding Agency budget(s) as a result of learners participating and achieving learning aims such as QCF units and qualifications. It is important that the Work Programme provider does nothing to unnecessarily distract participants from participating and achieving their learning aims as this could cause the learning provider to lose income.
Anything the Work Programme provider can do to motivate participants to persist and achieve their learning aim will be warmly welcomed by the learning provider. The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 33
The funding that can be drawn down for QCF units is often rather low because of their relatively small size. Therefore learning providers will often seek to bundle several QCF units together as this makes the provision financially viable. This also helps meet a wider range of participant learning needs. A Job Outcome Payment can be claimed by a learning provider from the Skills Funding Agency, if a learner secures employment which causes them to leave their course before they have completed their learning aim. The Job Outcome Payment therefore acts as a form of compensation against the provider’s lost of income as a result of the learner not achieving their learning aim.
The Job Outcome Payment does not fully cover the loss of income. To claim a Job Outcome Payment, learning providers must receive a declaration from the learner that they have entered work. The learner must remain in employment for 16 hours or more per week for more than four continuous weeks for a Job Outcome Payment to be claimed. The claiming of a Job Outcome Payment by a learning provider is not affected by the Work Programme’s payment process, i.e. it is not considered to be ‘double funding’. Any assistance the Work Programme provider can give to the learning provider in securing declarations from learners who have moved into work will be very much appreciated by the learning provider.
Learning providers often ask learners to pay travel expenses, materials costs and exams fees. However, they recognise that unemployed learners cannot afford to pay for these items. It is therefore important that the learning provider and Work Programme provider come to an agreement about which organisation is responsible for covering the travel expenses, materials costs and exams fees of Work Programme participants. Jobcentre Plus covers the cost of travel expenses for any customers referred under skills conditionality arrangements to skills provision. Many learning providers may therefore expect the Work Programme provider to meet these costs for any participant they mandate to attend.
On supporting participants Learning providers will wish to undertake their own IAG and initial assessment for each participant. This is because: • funding rules for some qualifications require assessments and individual learning plans to be in place; and • they wish to ensure that learners are placed in provision which is appropriate for them, not least because learning providers are scrutinised by Ofsted and the Skills Funding Agency on their qualification success rates. The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 34
Learning providers will expect all participants to adhere to their learner codes of behaviour and other regulations.
It is very helpful if a Work Programme provider can support the learning provider by sharing any information they have that may indicate there is a risk that a participant may not be able to meet requirements or expectations. The learning provider can then take an informed decision about whether to accept a particular participant. It is important that the Work Programme provider and learning provider discuss equality and diversity, health and safety and safeguarding issues arising from working in partnership.
On sharing information To support a seamless transfer of participants into skills provision, it is very helpful if the Work Programme provider can share information on each participant’s prior attainment, aspirations, additional needs and barriers to participation. Learning providers should be happy to share information which the Work Programme provider may need to take account of, such as provision start and end dates and assessment dates. It is helpful if the learning provider and Work Programme provider share the communications they have with individual participants about the provision.
On maintaining effective communications It is helpful to have a single point of contact within both the Work Programme provider and learning provider for day-to-day enquiries. These single points of contact need to be easily contactable by phone. For this reason, tutors who teach for a significant duration of each day are not the best people to fulfil this role.
In addition to the single points of contact, it is helpful to establish regular meetings at a variety of levels, i.e. strategic, operational and front line so that issues can be dealt with effectively and rapidly through discussions between different levels of staff in both organisations. User-friendly systems and forms are essential for busy managers, tutors, advisers and other staff. Ideally systems and documentation will be assessed for feasibility by each user before they are rolled out. Some of the requirements of supporting Work Programme participants may not be familiar to learning provider staff.
For new and unfamiliar requirements, there may need to be an assessment of the investment required from the learning provider to carry these out. When rolled out, new and unfamiliar requirements may take time to bed in.
The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 35
Conclusion Ultimately all anyone has to offer an employer is their skills. Therefore, where skills needs exist among people who are long-term unemployed, it is vital these are addressed if we wish to make a permanent difference to their position in the labour market. Some Work Programme providers are making skills provision available to their participants to good effect. As the case studies in this guide show, through the freedom given to Work Programme providers to offer personalised support for participants over a long time period and their ability to work in partnership with learning providers to deliver skills interventions, it is entirely feasible for Work Programme providers to address the skills needs of their participants.
Given this possibility, it would be a wasted opportunity for Work Programme participants who have not found work to leave the Programme after two years with skills needs remaining.
Through the provision of skills, the Work Programme could dramatically improve the longer-term prospects of its participants and in doing so could be seen to be making a very positive impact, despite perhaps not being able to achieve the hoped-for volume of sustained employment outcomes due to the drawn-out economic downturn. 36
Annex 1 A description of the Work Programme The Work Programme launched throughout Great Britain in June 2011. It involves 18 different Prime Providers delivering 40 contracts across 18 areas of the country. Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in November 2012 indicate that in its first 11 months, 877,880 people (2.2 per cent of the working age population) were referred to the Programme.
The Programme provides intensive, personalised support for people who are long-term unemployed or who are at most risk of becoming so. The Programme provides this support for up to two years for each unemployed participant plus further in-work support once participants have found work.
Work Programme Prime Providers have been given full control over the approaches they take to support their participants into sustained employment in the hope that this encourages creativity and innovation. Prime Providers are paid almost entirely by results, the majority of their income being earned when their programme participants gain and sustain employment. The combination of provider freedom to choose the support approach taken and payment by results is sometimes referred to as a ‘black box’ commissioning approach.
In order to draw upon the experience and expertise of organisations in each of their contract package areas, each Prime Provider contracts with a supply chain of Sub-Prime Providers to deliver a range of services at a local level.
People join the Work Programme as early as day one of their Job Seeker’s Allowance/ Employment and Support Allowance claim if they have very significant barriers to employment, nine months into their benefit claim if aged between 18 and 24, and one year into their benefit claim if aged 25+. Individual participants stay on the Programme for up to two years and can receive in-work support from their provider once they move into work. This gives providers longer than in previous UK welfare-to-work programmes to build a relationship with each participant, and to personalise support to meet their needs.
Providers receive a small start fee for each new participant in the early years of the contracts but this is being reduced each year and will be eliminated after the first three years. The majority of the Prime Provider’s income comes from Job Outcome Payments and sustainment payments. Providers can claim a Job Outcome Payment after a participant has been in a job for three or six months, depending on how far they are from the labour market. After receiving a Job Outcome Payment, while the participant 37
remains in work, providers can claim sustainment payments every four weeks for up to one year, 18 months or two years, depending on how far the participant was from the labour market on joining the Programme.
These payments create strong incentives to help participants into sustained work and to continue to support people to stay in work for longer. Some customers need more help to get into work than others and therefore Prime Providers are paid more for helping those customers who are furthest from the labour market, from a maximum of around £3800 for a young unemployed person to £13,700 for someone who has a limited capability for work and, as a result, has been receiving benefits for several years.
38 The Work Programme: What is the role of skills? 38 © auremar/Shutterstock.com
Annex 2 Sources of further information 157 Group (2012) Tackling Unemployment: The College Contribution. AELP and LSIS (2012) Provider Guide: A Guide to Delivering Adult Skills Provision to the Unemployed. AELP and LSIS (2012) Provider Guide: A Guide to Making the Most of the Single Adult Skills Budget. Association of Colleges (2012) Back to Work: Colleges Supporting Sustainable Jobs. BIS (2012) 2011 Skills for Life Survey: Headline Findings. (A description of skills levels is available in the annex to this publication.) DWP (2011) A Qualitative Study Exploring Employer’s Recruitment Behaviour and Decisions: Small and Medium Enterprises.
ERSA (2012) Perfect Partners: Strengthening Relationships within Employment Services Supply Chains. Inclusion (2011) Integrated Employment and Skills: Maximising the Contribution for Sustainable Employment. Inclusion (2012) Analysis of English Language Employment Support Provision in London for JSA and ESA WRAG Customers. National Audit Office (2007) Sustainable Employment: Supporting People to Stay in Work and Advance. NIACE (2012) Engaging Micro-Businesses: A Guide for Learning Providers Delivering Skills Provision for Unemployed Adults.
NIACE (2012) Managing Challenging Behaviour within Skills Provision for Unemployed Adults.
Skills Funding Agency (2012) Funding Rules 2012/13 Version 3. Skills Funding Agency (2012) Unit Delivery in 2012/13: Information and Guidance. UKCES (2011) Employers and the Recruitment of Unemployed People: An Evidence Review. 39
Annex 3 Acknowledgements We would like to thank the following Work Programme providers and learning providers for their support in helping to create the case studies in this report: • A4E • Acorn Training • City of Bristol College • Crewe YMCA • Ingeus • Intraining • JHP Training • Leicester College We would also like to thank the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for their helpful feedback on the content of this report. For all enquiries please contact Robert Gray: email@example.com
The Work Programme What is the role of skills? © NIACE 2012 Published by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales) 21 De Montfort Street Leicester LE1 7GE Company registration no.
2603322 Charity registration no. 1002775 NIACE, the national organisation for adult learning, has a broad remit to promote lifelong learning opportunities for adults. NIACE works to develop increased participation in education and training, particularly for those who do not have easy access because of barriers of class, gender, age, race, language and culture, learning difficulties and disabilities, or insufficient financial resources. You can find NIACE online at www.niace.org.uk To download a copy of this publication and for a full catalogue of all NIACE publications, visit http://shop.niace.org.uk Follow NIACE on Twitter: @NIACEhq @NIACEDC (Wales) @NIACEbooks (Publications) All rights reserved.
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