Do the latest work programme statistics reflect your own experiences?

Last week, The Department for Work and Pensions published statistics from the beginning of the Work Programme in June 2011 to the end of December 2013. The headline results included:

  • Performance for the whole programme has remained the same, with little improvement
  • 1.44 million people have been referred to the programme but there has been a 32% decline in referrals compared to the end of 2012
  • JSA groups showed a small (1 percentage point) improvement and are either at or above the minimum performance
  • ESA claimants continue to be far below performance expectations
  • New ESA claimants showed a small increase from 4 to 5% but are considerably below the minimum performance of 9.3%
  • Those who get a job are staying in work for longer than expected – on this measure the Work Programme is doing well
  • Men get more jobs through the Work Programme than women – with the gap increasing
  • Young people are doing exceptionally well, 25-49 year olds not so well, and over-50’s poorly
  • People with a disability are the least successful in getting a job through the Work Programme
  • The Provider performance league table has remained broadly unchanged, but the performance difference between providers increases the longer people are on the programme.
  • On average £577 per person per year is paid by DWP to providers – 14% below that originally estimated
  • Differences in performance across the country has evened out since the last data release

What are everyones thoughts on these findings? Do they reflect your own experiences of the work programme?

Further information about, and analysis of the statistics can be found here.

I personally put no faith in the statistics,a lot of variables are left out.My personal experience? An absolute waste of time and money,the emphasis was about keeping the WP alive,not about helping the unemployed as an example..On all WP Provider Websites they mention Training,click on it and it usually talks about the "Black Box" method of delivering the WP and that they will Tailor it on a one to one basis,push further and ask about it in person and you will eventually be told "Sorry,we only have a very small budget and unless you have a guaranteed job start,then and only then will we help you with transport until your first pay comes in" What is quite funny is the fact that the new Community Work Programmes will be run by most of the same Providers that failed to help during the first 2 years and picking up trash is going to help how? It will help the already failed WP Providers bank about £2000 per conscript while now not required to do SFA other than Monitor and Sanction!

Well, we did ask whether the figures reflected anyone's experience.

Because much of the training that is accessed through the Work Programme (in England)  is funded by BIS rather than Work Programme providers, by design, it's hard to see whether training offers make much of a difference. BIS publishes figures, but not on the same basis as DWP.

At some stage evaluation reports will be published which go into what worked for whom in more detail.

Meanwhile, anyone working in the sector have any views?

I worked as an advisor on the Work Programme and i can see why performance hasn’t changed since the start...

When an Advisor is judged on job outcomes then unfortunately the hardest to reach clients on ESA are not the priority... when your boss is on at you constantly to hit your job target, threatening you with the sack then you work with the job ready people... If advisors worked on the ESA's they would be out of a job. Most of the ESA's i had on my caseload would never work again; half of them would do well just to walk through the door of the office! Never mind go for an interview. DWP need to sort this out, there should be more a stringent referral process for ESA customers. WP Advisors arnt doctors/Psychiatrists, we can’t support these people into work no matter how hard we try!

The reason why the 18-24 year olds are doing well is because of the Youth Contract! if you are going to pay a company to take on a 24 year old then the older end are going to naturally suffer at the interview stage.

Also Work Programme will continue to underperform whist advisors have caseloads of over 150 clients each! at one point I had 175 people on my caseload! Its not manageable!!

This is the reason why I got out of the job... Staff were going off sick with stress related illnesses and just walking out of their jobs... When the staff are trying to get out of the work programme what chance do the customers have???

I totally agree,most of the Staff I dealt with were brilliant but restricted by the programme limits,they were quickly replaced by "Yes" people,times are hard,people on both sides of the fence are up against huge barriers....This is not the solution!

As someone who stems from a strong professional background, but, due to the challenges as a direct result of 'failings' led to the loss of my business and home... and homelessness, it was fundamental that I got the 'right' support 'back on my feet' and 'back into work' as someone who has never required or asked for such help before.

Given such challenges, 'gaps' in ones employment become inevitable. With a strong determination to utilise the strong skills I had gained throughout my career in management - both in the private sector and utilising skills & knowledge in the public & third sectors - the Job Centre referred me to the Work Programme. It was clear to me from the start that the emphasis was on YOU to achieve this goals - when, what was needed was an effective employer engagement programme that did not discriminate between those with strong skills & career aspirations and those whose employment history was not so strong... and willing to tolerate Tesco, KFC.. jobs the Work Programme offered them.

The problem is that the Work Programme has a restrictive 'business' nature towards employer engagement. It assumes that Unemployed people are happy to accept such jobs from the Poundshop, KFC.. etc. Such prejudice is a failure to ALL those whose ASPIRATIONS have remained HIGH amid challenges in their lives... and the strong professional skills they have. Thus, the Work Programme FAILS to provide have an effective policy to help 'bridge the gap' between such strong skills and employer engagement. WHY?

With gaps in ones employment - irrespective of the skills you have - this is a disadvantage in a market that is extremely tested and that prioritises those whose employment history does not have 'gaps'. Thus, the Work Programme needs to acknowledge the diversity of business objectives that support the goals of such clients. But sadly, it does not seem keen to do so.

The Work Programme CAN be more effective in what it does by realising the diversity of challenges and skill sets its client base has.. and developing both policy and practice to reflect this. Otherwise, many individuals are let to their own devises... stressed by failure again. Thus, I have had to return to a retail role that I did 25-years ago!

When it should be clear that economic growth is reliant of such policies harnessing skills of ALL types, one has to wonder why failure remains an option policy and practice with the Work Programme.

@IAS2013 One issue we may need to address with employers is how they see gaps in the employment record.

I suspect that employers looking for high-skilled/professional employees may see working for Poundshop, KFC etc as gaps in the employment record as much as any actual gap. It is, after all, a gap in the **professional** employment record.

what the effect of this is I don't know but is something that people with skills and experience see as a problem.

It 's something that as we move to talk about progression and move-on jobs in employment programmes will come more to the fore.

I totally agree with you, there should be opportunities for people to go into more Professional roles, KFC and Poundworld doesn’t suit everyone.

When staff raised this with management all we used to get was "a job is a job and people who are on JSA shouldn’t be picking what to apply for and what not to" The advisors are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Bosses want to make money, advisors want to do right by their customers... often the two clash.

I must say that the majority of my caseload was made up of people with very little qualifications/work experience. The ones who had management experience and had careers behind them were very proactive in looking for work and didn’t need my help to find opportunities or help them prepare for work. From a business standpoint providers cater for the majority and when 75% of an advisors caseload is after warehouse/retail then that’s what jobs they bring in. Providers have to maximise their revenue, this is also the reason why ESA are getting left on the shelf.

I feel that DWP needs to take the WP back from private contractors, whilst private companies are running the Work Programme profit will always come first over customers needs.

I don't work for a WP provider but I do work for SFA funded training provider delivering vocational qualifications. My biggest bug bear with WP providers (and JCP for that matter) is the number of people referred to us during and after WP who still have not had the most basic barriers to employment addressed.

Why do people come out the other side of WP after two years unable to read, write, or do maths even to level 1? Why do we get referrals for immigrants when the most pressing need for them is not vocational qualifications but ESOL?

I know it's not all advisors but what are these people getting paid for? These referrals can't do a vocational qualification because they can't write a sentence into a portfolio. They can't apply for jobs because they can't fill in an application form or change the CV or cover letter that their provider has written for them. Shameful.

I was unlucky enough to be made redundant at 51.
The Work Programme people are nice and leave me too it ,which is fine,but I did hope for a short work placement or upgrade to my training to widen my usefulness to potential employers.I have a Post Grad qual(which I funded myself) which prevents me from getting any any funded training above the basic level.
The Work Programme needs to be able to adapt to people like myself and get access to bulk buying proper industry type quals in sectors where there are future jobs going.
There are lots of people like myself who have years of work ahead before we can retire and want to retrain,we have been retraining since we started work,get us sorted on a case by case,realistic aim and it leaves more time for the people who need long term help.

Did no one mention 24+ Loans to you or try and arrange a work placement? Luck of the draw who you get as an advisor unfortunately.

In reply Bob,
I did ask and they just smiled and said "there is no funding I'm afraid".
I don't expect it.I expect to get JSA etc while looking for work and would be glad of some good quality advice on maximising my chances but what is the point of a "programme" or a scheme for everyone.Most people want to work or they wouldn't be doing low paid, yucky jobs,they would be inventing reasons to be unemployed.Its £71.00 a week for goodness sake.Its barely enough to live on.

I'm sorry, but your advisor seems not to keep abreast of developments.

As I read the 24+ Advanced Learner Loan documentation, it just covers fees and not living costs. It's England only, so those in other nations of the UK may well be funded.

People cannot be mandated onto courses where they are required to take out a loan (sensible), but it isn't clear to me whether JSA receipt is compatible with taking 24+ ALL funded courses.

Otherwise, there's Personal and Career Development Loans, which can cover living costs.