This goal has been the focus of successive Government policies and yet proved notoriously elusive in practice. This piece provides some practical examples of what providers can do themselves to bring jobs and skills together for the benefit of our customers.

The emphasis on sustainability within the Work Programme was a catalyst for The Work Company to look systematically at how we can braid our different service offers together to enhance customer outcomes.

We believe that integrating employment and skills is important in:

  • Supporting the hardest to help customers to focus on developing their vocational and transferable skills and therefore improve their employability
  • Keeping customers motivated and progressing within work to sustain their employment.

We offer integrated support across the key areas of career guidance, preparation for work, creation of sustainable employment and in-work progression.

As part of the non-profit Economic Solutions Group we deliver both employment and skills provision.  This includes Work Programme contracts for 4 Primes across 3 CPAs. It also comprises SFA funded programmes including Apprenticeships, National Careers Service (NCS) and pre and in-work training. We have combined these programmes to maximise our Work Programme customers’ experience and drive performance.

All Work Programme customers are offered:

  • Sessions with an NCS adviser to identify their strengths, transferable skills, and opportunities available to them to enhance their employability and progression in their chosen career.  To date 84% of our customers in Greater Manchester have received one or more NCS sessions prior to looking for work.
  • Access to SFA funded training provision to increase their skills and employability. This includes employability, sector-specific qualifications and a range of construction courses at our purpose-built Skills Centre in Trafford Park. Over 70% of our Work Programme customers have benefited from these courses.

We work closely with account managed employers to offer employment opportunities with training wherever possible. This includes pre-recruitment courses co-designed with employers to equip customers with the right skills, knowledge and support to enter employment.  Once in work we use our diverse Apprenticeship and NVQ portfolio to support sustainment and progression.

When Nigel joined Work Programme his confidence was low, compounded by a history of drug misuse which had affected his home life and relationships. He wanted help “getting his life back”.

Nigel received one to one support from his adviser including help with motivation, job search and creating a CV. Nigel attended a NCS session that highlighted interest in working in construction.

Nigel attended an open day at our Skills Centre where he registered for a Scaffolding course.  With hard work and daily attendance for 3 months he completed a Level 2 Scaffolding qualification.

With the knowledge, experience and motivation gained from this integrated package Nigel successfully applied for a job with a local scaffolding company - where he is still employed a year later.

Small practical steps making a big difference - and all within the parameters of existing policy.