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IES Pilot Research

DWP have published a research report into the Integrated Employment Skills trials that have been taking place in 12 JCP districts since September 2008.

The idea is that JCP staff identify customers who have a skills gap which is a barrier to employment and refer them to nextstep (careers information, advice and guidance) for a Skills Health Check to identify skills and qualifications needs and support progression into learning, employment and careers.

The key findings in the DWP press release are fairly positive.  However, the summary in the actual research document (below) doesn’t paint a particularly positive picture and offers the following findings:
 

  • Training focused on operational processes at the expense of a broader and deeper understanding of the aims. 
  • Screening practice in JCP varied considerably and some customers were referred for a Skills Health Check when a referral to other provision eg SfL may have been more appropriate.  This had improved over time.
  • Many JCP staff didn’t appear to understand what a Skills Health Check was or what the nextstep service entailed.  This led to customers not really knowing what to expect and a high fail to attend rate.
  • A high volume of paperwork was burdensome and detracted from the time available for customers.
  • Use of the Skills Diagnostic Tool (bespoke programme to identify skills needs) was available for nextstep advisers but its use varied, with some continuing to use other tools such as Adult Direction.
  • The Skills Health Check was welcomed by customers but many would have liked to access ongoing services.
  • The Skills Action Plans produced by nextstep appeared to be rarely used in subsequent JCP interactions due to their perceived quality; lack of time; and inadequate follow-up processes.  JCP staff felt that the Skills Action Plans lacked sufficient detail to be useful and nextstep staff would have benefited from guidance on producing quality action plans.
  • Customers felt that the service had given them more self confidence and motivation.
  • There were good working relationships between JCP and nextstep.

Regular site users will know that we try to accentuate the positives and don’t usually pass comment, but we are so infuriated about the basic failings of this pilot (at the time the research was undertaken) that we have to say we are utterly disgusted by the findings, both as tax payers and quality consultants.

IES is a really basic IAG service(particularly when compared to things like FND).  There is a clear and specific focus and the programme is not complicated.  The findings of this research show up fundamental failings of management at all levels in training, communication, process mapping and quality management.  These are things that we at W2W Solutions do day in and day out with our customers, who all know the importance of getting the planning, training, and systems right from the outset of delivery, even when they are working to ludicrous deadlines.  

There is really little positive to take from the report.  We just hope that in the months since this research things have improved, otherwise we hold out little hope for any provision where providers are relying on JCP assessment processes or progression activity.  We also hope that DWP management will look long and hard at the details of this research and learn lessons quickly to ensure that similar issues don’t impact on the Jobcentre Plus Support Contracts that have just started.  

We're keeping our fingers crossed for all of you out there in welfare to work land!

 

IES Pilot Research

Please click the PDF logo to download the research report on the IES Pilots.


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