Our Policy and Research Lead, Dr Andy Holroyde, recently presented at the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) Conference held in Westminster. He shared a stage with Jane Mansour, Programme Director for the ReAct Partnership – an industry-led and funded collaboration between the eight Restart Scheme prime providers, which uses action research and learning to drive improvements in delivery.
Andy spoke about the importance of using research to evidence the impact of employment support and shared the findings from a recent project carried out in collaboration with colleagues at Ingeus, who also deliver a range of employment support services.
Using research to evidence the impact of employment support
For many people, employment support is initially accessed through Jobcentre Plus (JCP), which itself aims to help people move from benefits into work. This is then sometimes complemented by employment support programmes, such as the Restart Scheme, which offer additional targeted support to those who need it.
Both Maximus and Ingeus are providers of these programmes, but while they share with JCP a common goal of helping people into sustainable work, there are some important distinctions in the support offered, and the respective parts they play in the wider employability ecosystem.
This research project sought to explore these distinctions and the core benefits of employment programmes, from the perspective of those at the frontline of their delivery.
Through a series of focus groups with Employment Advisors and participants on two programmes (the Restart Scheme and the Work and Health Programme) we were able to highlight five key areas where employment support providers offer a distinctive service and important additional value to jobseekers.
- Focus and expertise: Providers focus on delivering a distinct form of employment support and have the experience and expertise to do so.
- Investing the time: Providers invest the time required in each participant to engage and support them.
- Developing trusted relationships: By developing real, trusted relationships, providers work with participants to understand what they need to help them move forward.
- Delivering personalised support: Providers personalise how support is delivered to suit people’s needs, circumstances, and ambitions.
- Creating the right environment: Providers offer a welcoming environment where people feel safe to explore how they can move into work.
Collectively, these benefits can be summarised as going ‘over and above’ the core services jobseekers receive in their local JCP, giving participants the enhanced, personalised support they need to move towards sustainable employment.
Reflecting on the conference, Andy said: “It was wonderful to be able to share our research findings at the ERSA Conference this year. The project reflects our belief in the importance of working with the wider sector to evidence the value and impact of employability support. Developing this robust evidence base is vital in ensuring provision is effective and delivers the support people need.”