BBC's PM Programme on Tuesday was talking to NEETs. There are almost a million NEETs, the majority of them male. The lads the programme is following have been unemployed for upwards of 6 months, and are doing everything they can to find work. There was no mention of any training programme, but perhaps they had not been out of work long enough. PM is going to follow these lads, so it will be interesting to see what happens to them. However, BBC2's "Working Lunch" today reported on a "scheme" to help the unemployed in Sheffield, run by Working Links (yes, that surprised me, too). This was undoubtedly FND, but the words "New Deal" were not uttered. The impression was given that this was a local scheme, and if mention was made of its national coverage, I missed it. We were not told how FND is financed and run. The emphasis was indeed on skills training, but it was very much the sort of training we saw under the old contracts. A woman was enthusing over the one-day courses such as Basic Food Hygiene which may well improve her CV but are unlikely to get her a job. We were told about SIA and construction training - worthy but not applicable to many unemployed people. The item was too short to be informative.
FND may well be doing some good in some places. But clearly what is needed now is proper, wide-ranging skills training, with qualifications to suit the capabilities of the job-seekers as well as the needs of employers. A lot of money and effort is being put in by councils and voluntary groups. If private companies can help, fine. But they should be under the direction of JCP on a regional basis; in other words, we should revert to what happened before the system was privatised.