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1 Shaw Trust and Careers Development Group (CDG): Response to the Department for Work and Pensions extending labour market interventions to in-work. March Executive Summary 1.1. Shaw Trust and CDG welcomes the government s plans to reform the benefit system through the introduction of Universal Credit. In particular, the charity is supportive of the core intent of Universal Credit to make work pay. By removing the financial risk of entering work, thousands more of the customers which the charity supports each year through the delivery of the Work Programme and Work Choice, will be able to enter and sustain employment The movement towards digital by default services from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can open up a range of progression opportunities for both Work Programme and Work Choice customers. In particular, the digital delivery of online vocational training courses to individuals in employment could be a time-efficient way of supporting individuals and employers to participate in career progression training whilst in work. Online training could also be used to up-skill individuals who wish to make the transition from part time to full time employment. This includes individuals with health problems who may require a phased return into full time work Although the digital delivery of training can open up career progression opportunities for an increasing number of people, it is important that every single person claiming Universal Credit or tax credits while in work is given the opportunity to progress their careers. Crucial to the extension of labour market opportunities to all is for digital delivery to be inclusive. Research undertaken by Shaw Trust and CDG highlights how a lack of access to digital facilities like computers by customers on the Work Programme can hinder their ability to find, sustain and progress in work. Similarly, research by the charity s web accessibility team revealed that DWP s Universal Jobmatch website is not fully accessible for people with visual impairments. Digital inclusion for all is essential if customers in work are to benefit from extended labour market interventions, such as inwork training. page 1

2 2. Introduction to Shaw Trust and CDG 2.1. Shaw Trust and CDG is a newly merged charity comprising leading employment services providers Shaw Trust and Careers Development Group. Both charities have over thirty years of experience of supporting unemployed and disabled people to achieve employment, independent living and social inclusion. In 2011/2012 the combined organisation supported 46,595 customers from over 190 delivery centres nationally Shaw Trust and CDG is one of only two third sector prime contractors of the Work Programme in the UK. The charity delivers the Work Programme as a prime contractor in the London East Contract Package Area (CPA). The charity also operates as a subcontractor to a range of different prime contractors in the London West; Thames Valley, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight; Surrey, Sussex and Kent; Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the West of England; Coventry, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and the Marches; and North Yorkshire and the Humber CPAs. Through this national delivery of the Work Programme the charity has developed significant best practice in helping individuals to enter, sustain and progress through employment In addition, the charity delivers a diverse portfolio of other provisions to support disadvantaged individuals to gain employment or move towards independent living. This includes supporting over 7,000 people with disabilities to enter employment through the delivery of 17 DWP Work Choice contracts; the delivery of Skills Funding Agency contracts via the Adult Skills Budget; and the management of over 50 charity shops and social enterprises - which provide many disadvantaged individuals with their first stepping stone towards sustained employment or independence Shaw Trust and CDG s unique position as a national provider of both Work Programme and Work Choice enables the charity to outline how all individuals including the most vulnerable should be supported to firstly sustain, and secondly progress through employment. Our response to this call for ideas reflects the charity s views on how every single individual claiming Universal Credit including individuals with health problems or disabilities should be given the opportunity to receive effective and accessible career development support. Supporting progression through vocational skills development 3.1. Due to the introduction of the Work Programme, the emphasis of welfare to work delivery has already undergone an evolution. By financially incentivising providers to support individuals for up to eighteen months after they have entered employment 1, customers on the Work Programme are being supported not just to enter work, but to sustain it. The sustainment of employment is an important first step towards building a successful career. As the first group of customers complete the Work Programme in June 2013, providers will have built up a detailed and internationally unrivalled knowledge base of the support individuals need to remain in work, after a spell of unemployment. 1 Department for Work and Pensions (2010), Work Programme Invitation to Tender page 2

3 3.2. For example, Shaw Trust and CDG s delivery of in-work support for eighteen months to customers on the London East Work Programme prime contract demonstrates the range of employer and customer focused support interventions which have been effective in helping customers to retain employment. Interventions as simple as running a weekly after work job club in each of our London East delivery centres have enabled Work Programme customers to continue to access specialist employment support from one of our Advisors. This support can range from advice on how to handle a variety of workplace situations, through to support in finding another job if a customer has dropped out of work. Continued access to the facilities offered at the charity s delivery centres, such as access to our computers, is also of importance to Work Programme customers. Despite the Government s Digital Strategy stating that 82% of the UK s population are currently online 2, a 2012 survey of CDG s Work Programme customers revealed that just 54% of customers were online. The provision of job clubs therefore provides the essential advice and access to assisted digital facilities needed to support customers to sustain employment The need for greater digital inclusion for Work Programme customers both in and out of employment is essential if customers are to access the support needed to progress into work. Both the government and DWP s aim to transform services like DWP s new jobsearch tool - Universal Jobmatch - into digital by default 3 services, opens up the opportunity to undertake convenient jobsearch activity to increasing numbers of people. Similarly, Shaw Trust and CDG has harnessed this movement towards digital by default delivery through the development of the charity s online e-learning portal, e-kwip.me. Through e-kwip.me, customers in employment can continue their career development by accessing one of the 61 vocational training courses available on the portal. Courses range from supporting individuals to develop vocational skills through e-kwip.me s modules in customer care, through to more practical guides and assessments on how to use the Microsoft Office suite of software packages. The most popular courses on the portal are those aimed at helping customers to become more computer literate, with over 16% of users opting for support with how to use Microsoft Office. However, this opportunity for customers to progress their careers through the development of vocational skills is only open to customers with access to a computer, tablet or laptop Therefore, a potential pilot to extend labour market interventions to in-work customers could focus on increasing the skills of customers in work through online vocational training. Customers wanting to up-skill could be invited to attend an out of hours job club to discuss with an Advisor what next steps they need to take to progress in their current role, or to find a higher paid role elsewhere. Where possible, the pilot should link up to careers advice from the National Careers Service (NCS), by inviting NCS Advisors to participate in job clubs as well. NCS Advisors could provide information on local further education courses available in the local area, as well as advice on how to access an Advanced Learning Loan from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills if required. 2 Cabinet Office (2012), Government Digital Strategy, page 10 3 Department for Work and Pensions (2012), Digital Strategy page 3

4 For customers requiring vocational training not offered by a further education institution, access to a personal progression account could be granted. The personal progression account would include an allocated amount of funding to be spent on vocational training. This training could include courses on e-kwip.me, as well as other online training from further and higher education institutions. By ensuring that the vocational skills training remains online, customers can fit their training flexibly around their working lives, resulting in no time in work being used for the training. Historically, the loss of employee time has been a major barrier for employers enabling their staff to participate in vocational training. For customers without access to a computer, they can undertake their online vocational training at a Shaw Trust and CDG job club Gaining the support of employers is also crucial to the success of the pilot. By working with employers to understand their day to day skills and training needs, bespoke online modules can be designed to address these needs through the pilot. Tailored online modules can be designed through e-kwip.me, with pre-employment modules already designed for vacancies at Halfords and Tesco. The delivery of such bespoke training can open up internal vacancies within each employer s workforce, by increasing the productivity of their staff The success of the pilot could be measured by assessing the number of people that have successfully completed vocational training courses, and then by measuring how many people had achieved an increase in their earnings as a result of undertaking vocational training. The level of deadweight would be difficult to assess at this pilot stage, but the pilot could provide DWP with the opportunity to measure the level of progression in a control group of customers, against the pilot group, thereby leading to a measure of deadweight if the pilot was rolled out nationally. 3. Supporting people with health problems and disabilities to progress in work 4.1. As a charity managing and directly delivering services across 17 DWP Work Choice prime contracts, it is of paramount importance to Shaw Trust and CDG and our customers that individuals with health problems and disabilities can also benefit from Universal Credit. Any pilot introduced to evaluate the most effective ways of supporting individuals to progress their careers and increase their earnings, should also take into account how people with disabilities, and their employers, can be supported to work towards career progression Although there is a range of assistance already in place to support people with disabilities and health problems to sustain employment, Shaw Trust and CDG have concerns that the accessibility of this support can act as a barrier to employment sustainment and progression. As outlined in DWP s call for ideas brief, DWP s new jobsearch tool Universal Jobmatch will play a central role in supporting Universal Credit claimants in work to search for new or additional employment. However, when Shaw Trust and CDG s web accessibility team tested the accessibility of Universal Jobmatch for customers with disabilities, the results were disappointing. The web accessibility team regularly test and design websites for businesses to ensure that they page 4

5 are accessible for people with hearing impairments, visual impairments and learning disabilities. Our testers found that the contrast of the colour schemes and the text in the search function not being able to be re-sized on the Universal Jobmatch website, resulting in the charity s testers with visual impairments struggling to use the website. The digital accessibility of support for customers with disabilities in work therefore needs to be comprehensively considered if people with disabilities and health problems are to have equal opportunity for career progression. As such, Shaw Trust and CDG will be writing to both the Minister for Employment and the Minister for Welfare Reform to inform them of our findings Similarly, an analysis of DWP s Access to Work statistics 4 from January 2013, reveals that just 6% of Access to Work funding was allocated to providing special aids and equipment for customers in work, with just 0.035% of funding being allocated to premises adaptations. Furthermore, despite calls from the Sayce review 5 to increase funding for Access to Work, the number of customers awarded funding through the scheme have fallen steadily since Shaw Trust has also experienced the level of funding allocated to Access to Work customers decreasing. If the equipment and level assistance needed for employers to support individuals with disabilities in the workplace through the provision of specialist provision does not reach employers, then the capabilities of people with disabilities and health problems to sustain and progress in work could be jeopardised Any pilot testing approaches to help employers to invest in their employees career development, or to enable customers to become financial independent, should also factor in the critical role which Work Choice plays in supporting people with disabilities and health problems to sustain work. The intensive in-work support offered by Shaw Trust and CDG s Work Choice teams provides support to both customers and employers. Our teams work with customers to identify the level of support they need to sustain employment, and then works with employers to put this in place. Through the carving of job roles to tailor their function to the specific capabilities of customers, or by negotiating with employers to flexibly increase or decrease customers working hours dependent on the status of their current health conditions and by assisting employers to apply for Access to Work funding, the charity, customers and employers jointly collaborate to ensure that employment is sustained. In a recent independent piece of research completed by Shaw Trust and CDG evaluating our customers and employees experiences of Work Choice, 77% of customers in employment reported receiving inwork support from their employers. Such in-work support included mentoring by other employees and workplace adjustments. Over 400 customers, staff and external stakeholders participated in the research project, whose views will be used to produce an external report outlining the charity s recommendations for the future of Work Choice in the spring. 4 DWP (2013), Access to Work: Official Statistics 5 Sayce, L (2011), Getting in, staying in and getting on: disability support fit for the future 6 DWP, ibid. page 5

6 4.5. Through the intensive in-work support infrastructure offered by Work Choice, a pilot which moves beyond job sustainment and towards job progression could be developed. Shaw Trust and CDG s in-work support teams could work with employers to develop fully accessible training modules to be undertaken digitally, or by participating in training dependent on each individual s needs to equip customers with the skills to progress in work. Work Choice staff could also continue their negotiations with employers, to identify if and when it would be most appropriate for customers to increase their working hours. Customers, who due to their health conditions are unable to work full time, could undertake online learning modules to develop the skills employers need, to complement this in-work support delivered by Work Choice. This vocational learning could be funded by the progression account structure highlighted above, and could act as a skills based catalyst to increase the earnings of individuals with health problems. Again, the effectiveness of this intensive in-work support pilot could be tested against the career progression made by a control group of Work Choice customers not receiving progression support through the pilot. By launching a pilot which encourages collaborative working between providers, customers and employers, people with disabilities and health problems will receive the support needed to achieve financial independence and to develop their careers. March 2013 Careers Development Group, Carlton Plaza, 111 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 2TJ Registered Charity Number Shaw Trust, Shaw House, Epsom Square, White Horse Business Park, Trowbridge, BA14 0XJ Registered Charity Number page 6

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