Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

2  Outcomes for young people

Creation of Future Jobs Fund posts

13.  The intention of the Future Jobs Fund was to generate job opportunities, primarily for long-term unemployed people, at a time of rising unemployment. In the first 10 months of the scheme (October 2009 to July 2010), 54,920 benefit claimants started a FJF job, of which 47,060 were aged between 18 and 24.[12] In his oral evidence, the Minister for Employment reported that, as at November 2010, the programme was not on track to meet its initial target: "At the moment, the Future Jobs Fund is still in numbers terms behind where it was originally anticipated to be; about 20,000 fewer jobs have been created at this point than was in the original tracking for the fund".[13]

14.  DWP gave us a number of reasons for delays in the early implementation of the programme, which they believe contributed to the fact that the number of jobs fell short of the target. These issues are discussed in detail in Chapter 7 of this Report.

15.   Witnesses argued that the momentum of the programme had been affected by the announcement that there would be no new entrants to the programme beyond March 2011, because local partnerships were less likely to invest in the infrastructure required to create and manage jobs as the programme moved towards its completion. The National Day Nurseries Association, who delivered a programme with Kirklees Council, told us:

The high-profile announcement of the ending of the FJF scheme has led to some reduction in the profile amongst potential applicants and Jobcentre Advisers. This has made it harder to direct applicants to jobs in existing contracts, and to some extent has stalled the momentum Kirklees was creating locally.[14]

Social Enterprise Solutions took a similar view:

It took months of intensive activity to engage social enterprises with FJF, and to persuade Jobcentre Plus that the programme was not just for low achievers. Because of its evident success, momentum was built. Businesses wanted more FJF employees, new businesses wanted to join the scheme, and more unemployed young people wanted to benefit from it. The momentum is now lost, leaving frustration that nothing has yet taken its place.[15]

16.  The following table shows how many people started an FJF post in each month since the programme began.
Month FJF job starts
October 2009470
November 20092,220
December 20091,850
January 20104,430
February 20106,080
March 201012,020
April 20107,140
May 20106,790
June 20107,910
July 20106,030

Source: DWP Young Person's Guarantee Official Statistics, 13 October 2010

These statistics only provide figures up to July 2010. We therefore only have data for two calendar months following the announcement in May 2010 of the decision to terminate the programme and it is not possible to establish from this data whether there was a downward trend in the number of FJF posts created following the announcement. The next release of statistics for the FJF is scheduled for January 2011, which may offer a clearer indication of whether fewer posts were created after May 2010.

17.  DWP statistics show how many individuals started an FJF post, but do not indicate how many of those individuals completed the minimum six-month period. A separate DWP analysis of FJF participant outcomes indicates that among those participants starting the FJF in the first two months of the programme, only 10% were claiming Jobseeker's Allowance again within the six-month period that their FJF post was scheduled to last.[16] However, these DWP figures do not provide a reliable measure of how many FJF participants lasted the full six months. It is possible that some left the FJF programme during the six-month period for other employment. It is also possible that individuals left the programme but did not immediately start claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. This DWP analysis is also limited in that it only covers the first two months of the programme, when it was in a start-up phase.

18.  Written evidence we received suggested that a high percentage of FJF workers completed their six-month period. For example: Portsmouth City Council reported that only 12% did not complete the contract period; St Paul's Development Trust state that less than 10% failed to complete their employment period; Novas Scarman reported that 20% left the programme early; and Oxfordshire County Council claim that 79% of those recruited in phase one either completed or were expected to complete the programme.[17] We would note that these figures are taken from only a small number of witnesses and only relate to the early stages of the programme. However, as highlighted in Chapter 5, the wider evidence we received from providers and employers was generally positive about the programme.

Sustainable employment outcomes for young people

19.  There is a lack of strong evidence on whether participants were able to find permanent paid employment following their FJF post. This, in part, reflects the fact that participation in FJF is too recent for permanent employment outcomes to be observed.

20.   DWP states that it is too early to understand the impact the Future Jobs Fund has had on entry to employment.[18] Other witnesses, including the CBI and Groundwork UK, agreed.[19] Professor Paul Gregg commented that terminating the programme at this stage means that "we will not ever learn how good or bad it was and which design features were good or bad".[20] However, while we accept that it may be too early to assess the programme at this moment, over 55,000 people have now participated in the Future Jobs Fund, and a proper evaluation next year should be able to demonstrate the extent to which the programme was effective in achieving sustained employment.

21.  As mentioned, DWP has published some emerging analysis on the outcomes of the programme.[21] The analysis focuses only on participants who took part in the first two months of the programme, as this is the only data available at present. Furthermore, it considers benefit outcomes rather than employment outcomes. As such, the analysis has its limitations and it will be possible to learn more from future analysis in the coming months as more data become available. The analysis includes the following table, which shows the proportion of individuals claiming working age benefits after starting an FJF job:[22]

% FJF participants
On benefits 1 month after start 2%
On benefits 2 months after start 3%
On benefits 3 months after start 4%
On benefits 4 months after start 7%
On benefits 5 months after start 9%
On benefits 6 months after start 10%
On benefits 7 months after start 50%

22.  The figures show that only small numbers of FJF participants claimed benefits during the six months following their FJF start, but this is to be expected, since the FJF jobs last for six months. The figures then show that half of FJF participants claimed benefits seven months after they started FJF.

23.  The analysis states that 35% of 18-24 year-olds entering non-FJF work after a 9-12 month period claiming Jobseeker's Allowance were back on benefits seven months later. The implication is that if an unemployed young person finds non-FJF work they are less likely than an FJF worker to end up on Jobseeker's Allowance after seven months. However, comparing these figures for FJF workers and non-FJF workers is unhelpful for the following reasons:

  • FJF posts are usually six-month posts, whereas other jobs would not have this restriction and might be expected to last longer;
  • FJF participants may experience a short period of unemployment after six months before finding a new job; and
  • claimants able to find work without the FJF are likely to differ in important ways from FJF participants, for example in terms of their experience, skills and personal circumstances. A comparison of their respective outcomes cannot distinguish the effect of these different characteristics from the effect of the FJF.

As the DWP analysis explains, further tracking of an FJF participant's benefit records eight, nine and ten months after starting FJF will provide a longer term picture of FJF outcomes.[23]

24.   Written evidence indicated that, from the early stages of the programme, a reasonable percentage of FJF workers have taken up employment following their FJF work. Examples include:

Percentage taking up employment following an FJF post[24]

Be Birmingham >30% >225
Caerphilly 71% 29
Glasgow City Council / Glasgow Works 41% n/a
Groundwork UK 30% 710
Hampshire County Council 25% n/a
Liverpool City Region 29%379
National Day Nurseries Association 52% n/a
Norfolk County Council 40%104
Oxfordshire County Council 55% n/a
Solihull>50% >33
Stoke and Staffordshire 78%n/a

25.  This evidence is very mixed and has clear limitations. As with the DWP data, the figures only relate to the early stages of the programme, rather than the programme as a whole. They do not cover a representative sample of providers, and we are not able to verify whether this data has been collected consistently and accurately across providers. Also these regional figures cannot be compared directly with the DWP figures, as the DWP figures use a different measure, namely, how many participants claimed benefits following their FJF post. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the 50% figure quoted by DWP for people going back on benefits at seven months is not strongly contradicted by the estimates provided by local partnerships for people going onto jobs after completing the FJF programme.

26.  Overall, the information we have received to date does not provide a clear indication of the numbers of FJF workers finding sustainable employment following their FJF post. However, even if such information were available there may still be some debate around whether the FJF intervention was the primary factor leading to a percentage of its participants gaining a permanent job. The Government did not set a public target for the number of FJF workers it expected to find sustainable employment, so we are also unable to compare the limited emerging data against the Government's intentions for this aspect of the programme.

Wider benefits for young people

27.  Written evidence from FJF providers suggests that young people gained a number of benefits from the programme, including acquiring skills and experience, developing a greater sense of responsibility and confidence, and increased employability. Be Birmingham is carrying out interviews with 500 FJF workers, and the emerging findings outlined in their submission indicate that FJF has supported young people in the following ways:

  • raising self esteem;
  • being valued—especially because FJF is presented as a real job, rather than a placement;
  • doing a worthwhile job—as the FJF jobs all have a community benefit;
  • being paid—workers feel independent and a full member of society; and
  • having real employment, rather than being on a "programme". [25]

28.  The following comments from FJF employees and organisations are illustrative of the benefits gained:

It has been a great opportunity for me. I've loved working for an organisation that is helping out others. Not only has it helped me get back into work but I have met new friends, gained confidence and I now have a better idea of what I would like to do for a long term career.[26]

Getting this job through Future Jobs Fund has really meant a lot. Being out of work for so long really knocked my confidence, but since working at Barnardo's my confidence has really come back and I feel better about myself.[27]

Even though I'd kept myself busy and volunteered to learn new skills, there is a stigma attached to not having a job and I feel much better now I am paying my own way and getting on with my life.[28]

One young man has transformed from an insecure, shy individual to a competent, friendly, highly thought of important member of the lab team in the six months he has been with us.[29]

One of the perceived benefits of the FJF to young people and the employer alike is that they receive proper wages and have had the same terms and conditions as other employees thus being treated the same, learning many workplace skills such as time keeping, work ethic, confidence, specific job skills, managing money etc. If they have had problems then the employer has been able to tackle the problems whilst they are at work, so it is real and practical instead of theoretical in a training course.[30]

29.  Despite falling behind its initial target, the Future Jobs Fund created a significant number of temporary jobs for unemployed young people on a national scale. However, it is too early to assess the extent to which the programme has supported young people in finding permanent employment.

30.  It must be borne in mind that the FJF was an emergency measure to tackle a particular peak in youth unemployment. We regard the wider benefits which many young people gained from the programme in terms of work experience, confidence and self-esteem and the likely consequent impact on their future employability, as another indicator of the effectiveness of the programme.

12   Department for Work and Pensions, Young Person's Guarantee Official Statistics, 13 October 2010 Back

13   Q 107 Back

14   Ev w100 [Note: references to Ev wxx are references to written evidence published in the additional written evidence published on the Committee's website.] Back

15   Ev w11 Back

16   Department for Work and Pensions, Early analysis of Future Jobs Fund participant outcomes, November 2010 Back

17   Ev w76, Ev w4, Ev w90, Ev w56 Back

18   Ev 51 Back

19   Q 67 and Q 23 Back

20   Q 68 Back

21   Department for Work and Pensions, Early analysis of Future Jobs Fund participant outcomes, November 2010 Back

22   Department for Work and Pensions, Early analysis of Future Jobs Fund participant outcomes, November 2010, p 4 Back

23   Department for Work and Pensions, Early analysis of Future Jobs Fund participant outcomes, November 2010, p 4 Back

24   Ev 45, Ev w54, Ev 56, Ev 58, Ev w155, Ev w100, Ev w65, Ev w57, Ev w136, Ev w34 Back

25   Ev 44 Back

26   Sally, administrative assistant at Catch 22, Ev w52 Back

27   Louise, admin assistant for Barnado's North West, Ev w185 Back

28   Steve at Lifeline in Kirklees, Ev w195


29   Ev w172 Back

30   Wales Council for Voluntary Action, Ev w13 Back

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Prepared 21 December 2010