Archive for the ‘Employment and Skills’ Category

Benefits to be cut for those who do not retrain

The Government has yet to decide if there will be a cut-off point beyond which unemployed people will no longer receive state support under the new social welfare system.

Unemployment should not be a punishment, he said but could be an opportunity to retrain, adding the intention is to ensure that people have a job.

The Irish Examiner reports…

Pathways to Work is to be launched early next week and will include a cut in benefits for anybody who does not take the retraining and education opportunities offered to them.

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Could and should a measure such as this be introduced in England… the benefits are clear, the unemployed need to do much more to assist themselves into work; mabe this is the exact stimulus thats needed..


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Barnado’s report on impact on disadvantaged 16 to 19-year-olds

Staying the Course takes a close, initial look at the new 16-19 Bursary Fund for England and its impact on disadvantaged 16 to 19-year-olds in education and training.

Staying the Course provides an insight into the backgrounds of young people who depend on financial support to continue in education or training.



In 2011 funding for 16-19 financial support was cut from £560 million per year to £180 million. The report found lower levels of money and a lack of access to the fund are both key factors which are forcing many young people to consider dropping out of education and training due to financial hardship. Based on the research in this report Barnardo’s recommends that the system is better funded, better targeted and better administered to ensure that the Government’s aspirations for social mobility through education can benefit 16 to 19-year-olds as well as disadvantaged school children.

Download the report here

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Monster World Wide will help jobless into work

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has signed a deal with Monster Worldwide for a range of online job advertisement and search services.

A contract award notice has appeared in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The solution will offer an extended job search by aggregating vacancies advertised directly by Jobcentre Plus, as well as vacancies from employers’ own websites and other job boards.

Companies without an online recruitment system will be able to use a self-service facility to create a vacancy and manage responses from potential candidates, according to the DWP.

People looking for work will be able to;

  • Create their own secure online accounts,
  • Set up an online profile,
  • The sytem will suggest alternative jobs,
  • Match individual profiles and vacancies,
  • Give employers and job seekers an “automated match“,

The new system will;

  • Track the activities of job seekers and provide the DWP with business and labour market intelligence,
  • Employers and job seekers can provide real time information about their experiences,


The facility will be available to;

  • The public via Directgov,
  • To employers via Businesslink and EURES,
  • To Jobcentre Plus personnel via internal systems.

The estimated contract value is between £14.45m and £20.44m .

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New apprenticeships schemes created

John Hayes rides to the rescue gain… 

A number of major high street banks will create new apprenticeship schemes and offer more places to young people, Skills Minister John Hayes announced today.

The announcements were made during National Apprenticeship Week at a financial services sector roundtable, held at HSBC in Canary Wharf, to look at the creation of new apprenticeship routes into employment.

Banks announcing plans to further engage with the Government’s educational and back to work reforms include:

  • Barclays will create 1,000 new apprenticeships across England and Wales with a major programme launching in April
  • HSBC will create an extra 688 apprentices bringing the total number of employees within its apprenticeship scheme to 1,000 by the end of 2012
  • Santander will launch an apprenticeship scheme that will see up to 50 people offered places at the bank.

1. On Tuesday the Prime Minister announced round two of the Higher Apprenticeship Fund which will support thousands of apprenticeships up to degree equivalent, helping deliver the world class skills firms need to drive growth.

2. The Prime Minister also opened the bidding for the new Employer Ownership pilot, inviting employers in England to apply to access up to £250m of public investment and secure more control over how skills training is designed and delivered.

3. He also announced that from this week, small firms will be offered an incentive of £1,500 to hire their first young apprentices. This is expected to support up to 40,000 new apprenticeships over the next year.

4. Successful applicants to the Barclays Apprenticeship programme will receive 12 months training and support and progress to a permanent position. During their training, apprentices will also work to achieve a competency qualification in Financial Services similar to an NVQ, a BTEC Award in Customer Service, and qualifications in numeracy and literacy.

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3 February 2012

ERSA calls for a review of TUPE regulations

ERSA has signalled that it would support a decision by the Government to consult formally on changes to the 2006 TUPE regulations.

In a submission to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, ERSA highlights how the Government’s decision to terminate previous welfare to work contracts during the 2011 to make way for the Work Programme led to unprecedented complexity and uncertainty across the sector about the potential application of TUPE rules.  This led to significantly increased costs to both primes and subcontractors and is likely to have led to some potential subcontractors deciding not to take on contracts.

ERSA’s chief executive, Kirsty McHugh, said:  ‘Whilst ERSA believes that TUPE principles can help to maintain staff performance in a contracting environment, we believe that the experience of the welfare to work industry, where there has been transition from multiple provider to multiple provider in rapid timescales, has raised a range of questions in relation to TUPE regulations that make them warrant review.

In 2011, ERSA’s HR Forum, made up of welfare to work providers from around 50 organisations, took the lead in attempting to co-ordinate an industry view on transition arrangements across the welfare to work sector.  The process helped to deliver a more coherent approach that might not otherwise have been achieved.


Notes to Editors


ERSA is the trade association for the welfare to work industry. Established in 2005, by the industry for the industy, it exists to help members achieve their shared goal – to help people achieve sustainable work.  ERSA’s membership ranges from large multinational corporations to small specialist charities. It represents over 90 percent of those organisations that have been awarded prime contracts for the Work Programme, plus a larger number of subcontractors. Approximately half its members are third sector organisations.

For copies of ERSA’s submission and for all press enquiries please contact Philip Curry at philip.curry@ersa.org.uk or 07932 792 435.

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23 January 2012

Welfare to work providers respond to National Audit Office report on Work Programme procurement

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the trade association for the welfare to work industry, today comments on the findings of the National Audit Office (NAO) report into the procurement of the Work Programme (released 24 January 2012).    ERSA welcomes the focus of the National Audit Office on referral numbers and type.  However, it believes that the NAO’s conclusions in relation to likely performance levels are premature. 

In particular, ERSA highlights the following points in response to the report.

  • The rapid procurement and implementation timetable of the Work Programme was met by the welfare to work industry, with a great deal achieved over a short time.   Undoubtedly, the process of transition from previous welfare to work programmes to the Work Programme was difficult for many providers, with largescale TUPE transfers taking place across the sector.  This has necessitated industry-wide collaboration, which has been to the benefit of customers.
  • ERSA does not recognise the performance levels anticipated by the National Audit Office.  These appear to be speculative and not based on performance information.   ERSA believes that it is too early to draw any conclusions on likely performance levels across the life of the contracts.  Providers are working hard to achieve the best possible performance levels for all customers and early indications of job entry levels are in line with expectations.
  • Clearly, however, the economic backdrop has worsened since providers submitted tenders in spring 2011.  In particular, regional variations in economic outlook may have an impact on performance levels over the next two to three years.  ERSA will therefore track the UK’s economic performance very carefully and is ready to help facilitate dialogue with the Department for Work and Pensions if this were to become necessary.   ERSA does not believe that this is the case at present.
  • ERSA welcomes the recognition by the National Audit Office of the problems faced by the industry of the lower than expected level of customers on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).  ERSA believes that this is currently the number one problem that the government needs to solve.  Low level of ESA referrals have disproportionate affects on voluntary and community sector providers, as this sector disproportionately provides the specialist support many of these customers need.


  • ERSA regrets any suggestion that providers will act unethically in the delivery of services.  ERSA members are asked to sign up to a code of conduct, while all providers are subject to the Merlin standards of responsible supply chain management.  In addition, the sector is introducing its own set of qualifications and is setting up a dedicated professional institute to ensure the very highest quality standards across the entirety of the industry.

Speaking in response to the NAO report, ERSA chief executive, Kirsty McHugh said:

‘The welfare to work industry welcomed the ambition of the Work Programme, believing that its design and scale will help to facilitate high quality support to jobseekers.   Providers have achieved a great deal in implementing the programme over a short period of time.    We welcome the focus by the NAO on the need to increase the number of ESA referrals to the Work Programme, but do not recognise the performance figures in the report. 

‘Clearly, however, the worsening economic backdrop must be taken into account and therefore the industry will require a strong partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that the Work Programme delivers for the benefit of all customers. ‘


Notes to Editors


ERSA is the trade association for the welfare to work industry. Established in 2005, by the industry for the industy, it exists to help members achieve their shared goal – to help people achieve sustainable work.  ERSA’s membership ranges from large multinational corporations to small specialist charities. It represents over 90 percent of those organisations that have been awarded prime contracts for the Work Programme. Approximately half its members are third sector organisations.

Press enquiries should be directed to Philip Curry at philip.curry@ersa.org.uk or 07919622053.

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Unemployment up by 118,000 but JSA claimant less than expected.

The Office for National Statistics has published the latest employment figures showing 2.69 million people were ILO unemployed in the September to November quarter, up by 118,000 on the June to August period


Inactivity fell by 61,000 on the quarter and the rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 23.1%. Meanwhile, the number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose by 1,200 in December 2011 to 1.6 million. This is, however, less than the 10,000 expected.


Today’s figures show a fall in youth unemployment reflecting the numbers in full-time education. Full-time students now account for 30% of all those unemployed between the ages of 16 and 24. The number of 16 to 24-year-olds who have left full-time education and are seeking work is 729,000. The number of full-time students looking for a job rose 44,000 to 313,000.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling has responded to these latest figures:

“The overall level of unemployment is, and will remain, a major concern for the Government. The latest figures reflect the current challenging economic climate but also show more women entering the workforce and more students looking to supplement their income through work. When you take into account our welfare reforms the number of Jobseeker Allowance claimants has actually fallen.

“Despite the exceptionally difficult economic circumstances, finding work for the unemployed will remain top of the Government’s agenda.”

Click here for the latest Labour Market Statistical Bulletin

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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