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 .
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 higherlevel 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.
- 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 Agencyfunded 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.
- 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.
- 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 preWork 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 preWork 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 preWork 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 lack of publicly funded research into Work Programme provision; and
- the lack of detailed descriptions of provision from Work Programme Prime and SubPrime 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
- 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.
- 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
- planning ahead
- body management
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”