The ongoing economic challenges and pressures facing the labour market highlight the importance of the support offered to people through organisations across the employability sector.
I’m really pleased to be able to share our latest research report, where we explore the distinct benefits which are offered by providers of employment support services.
For many people, employment support is initially accessed through JobCentre Plus (JCP), which aims to help people move from benefits into work. This is then sometimes complemented by employment programmes which offer additional targeted support to those who need it.
As a leading provider of employment support services, we currently deliver a range of these programmes across the country. This includes the Restart Scheme, which offers enhanced support to help people who are unemployed find work; and the Work and Health Programme, which offers specialist employment support for disabled people and those with health conditions.
While providers share with JCP a common goal of helping people into sustainable work, there are some important distinctions in what we offer, and the part we play in the wider employability ecosystem.
With this in mind, we embarked on this research project to explore in more detail what distinguishes the different kinds of support offered through dedicated employment programmes. Concentrating on the views of those at the front-line of delivery, we conducted a series of semi-structured focus groups with two cohorts:
- our own front-line Employment Advisers who had previous experience working in JCP;
- participants on two employment support programmes (the Restart Scheme and the Work and Health Programme).
The groups discussed their perceptions of what is offered through employment programmes and the additional value our sector provides.
It’s always a rewarding experience to gain feedback from those closest to the delivery of our services. Each focus group enjoyed a lively and stimulating discussion, and contributions from our participants and colleagues provided some really valuable insights.
These are explored in our report, the title of which, ‘Over and Above’, reflects the overall message we heard from our focus groups and encapsulates the very real benefits offered by providers delivering these vital services.
You can read more in our newly published report: ‘Over and Above’: the added value of employment support services.