Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Work Programme proceeds

The publicity surrounding Emma Harrison and her project is over, and attention turns back to the Work Programme. A4e continues to generate PR for itself, helped by the government. The Oxford Mail published a touching story about Chris Grayling's visit to A4e in Oxford and how he heard how "Furniture maker Shane Clarke got a new job four hours after visiting a 'giant employment dating service' in Oxford." The article details several other people who found work quickly; but the manager at Oxford wouldn't give figures for just how many people had found jobs since June, because that was "commercially sensitive". And the government doesn't have to give those figures until next year. It's not all plain sailing. In Runcorn and Widnes, where the WP is run by Ingeus and A4e, there have been delays caused by "data security issues" with A4e and a higher number of starts than expected. The article concludes with the statement that "So far 31 jobseekers have been seen (by A4e) but only 22% are considered ready for the workplace." This notion of "job-ready" appears to be common to all the providers, and up to a point it's sensible. But it does brand a huge number of people as not job-ready without detailing why.

Much has been made of the position of the voluntary sector (or Third Sector as some organisations prefer to be known) in the WP. Their involvement was guaranteed. Many were not enthusiastic, but needed the funding that sub-contracts could give them, and didn't want to see their work taken over by someone else. Now, various groups are feeling let down, with the work not materialising. One charity, Crisis, is particularly unhappy. Its Welfare Network Manager writes that "The reality of the Work Programme is proving to be quite different from what the government promised." He (or she) doesn't specify which prime they've been dealing with, but as well as getting much less than they believe is necessary to support a homeless person into employment but, "In addition, one contracter would only pay us for engaging with a client and job entry (the hard and expensive bit) whilst they would then themselves support the client for the year in work (the easy bit with the highest payment from DWP). There were also requests that we work with their clients using our own funding streams - with no financial reward for doing so."

The BBC is running a programme on Radio 4 next Thursday at 8.00 pm on the Work Programme. There's no indication of what line they're going to take. It can only be anecdotal. Let's hope it's fair.


  1. " The Oxford Mail published a touching story about Chris Grayling's visit to A4e in Oxford and how he heard how "Furniture maker Shane Clarke got a new job four hours after visiting a 'giant employment dating service' in Oxford."

    Interesting this bit. Grayling is on record for saying that previous programs such as ND and FND were failure. He stated the WP would be very different as people would not be stuck in a classroom for 13 weeks doing nothing. His own words.

    How fitting he should visit A4e, a company that many current and former 'clients' accuse of having them sit in a classroom for 13 weeks doing nothing under ND and FND!

    One has to ask how many get jobs DESPITE such programs in addition to BECAUSE of them? Great news about chap who found a job after 4 hrs. I would much prefer Jobcentre Plus doing such work. It is after all what they are supposed to be there for.

  2. I was actually interviewed for this radio show. I shocked them by telling them the truth, they couldn't believe it. Will see how it goes. They spoke to some people in leeds, in manchester and where i live. Lets hope its not just a puff piece for a4e and their ilk.

  3. I have completed a number of schemes for the unemployed and been described as job ready everytime. I have completed three work placements with no hope of a job. I have completed five basic computer courses and even the big providers who advertise stating that they have a number of companies who take people on have not been able to find me one job or interview. I still find it hard to believe that a4e who were found guilty of a fraud against the government can ever be given any kind of government contract again. David Cameron made a mistake employing a former editor of the News of the World and now he seems to want to make Emma Harrison his main advisor. I guess we shouldn't be shocked by Camerons stupidity.

  4. "job ready" probably means

    - do they have basic literacy and numeracy skills. It's not unheard of for clients to turn up unable to read and write, I heard an advisor asking another whether it was sensible to send a 50yr old man on a reading course or whether he was too old to learn, and witnessed another in his early to mid twenties who turned up and was unable to fill out the forms because he was unable to read and write. I don't know what they did with him. And that isn't including the people who are otherwise employable but don't speak English as their first language and who therefore need language lessons before they can be given a job.

    - can they use a computer. Some people got sent on basic computing courses so they could learn how to use computers. Since that's not necessary for all jobs I'm not sure that really would be a requirement.

    Still very high figures though.

  5. When money can be made people will say what they have to say to obtain it. I was with one provider to completed nvq2 in information technology and they refused to mark my work to make sure I was with them for six months when in fact I could have completed it in a couple of weeks. They tried to get everyone to complete one day courses and people were competing against one another to see who could obtain the most certificates. They held back marking the nvq2 work solely to keep us for six months and obtain extra for the additional certificates achieved. Ridiculous things like a certificate for taking a photo from the internet and resizing it and another for typing 10 words a minute when we were already able to touch type over 30 words a minute. Government money down the drain, the most recent certificate I have is from attending a one day course at A4E. Two hours around a table was bad enough but the worst embarrassment was receiving the certificate.

  6. I ended up teaching computers in a4e. And i was just another client. Even the staff came to me when there was a computer problem. Everyday i had 4 or 5 people come upto me and ask me how do i do this.. and yet they were supposed to do it. I didnt mind helping so long as it didnt stop my job search but it started too. No wonder they never got me a placement i was too valuable in the place taking the place of a trainer..

  7. That's not unusual. In fact, Harrison makes a virtue of it - "people helping people".


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