7 Lessons learned from implementation |
Early delays in the programme
82. A number of witnesses told us that, because
the programme was set up at great speed, providers did not have
enough time to prepare before FJF work started. In his oral evidence,
the Minister pointed out that the Future Jobs Fund had been established
as an emergency measure.
Mark Fisher from DWP described the challenge to the Department
in setting up the scheme so quickly:
The scheme was announced in May. We had to build
an entirely new supply chain with a whole new set of partners
we had never actually done business with, and we got the first
jobs through the door in September/October.[...] It was delayed
but it was quite an achievement in simply getting the whole scheme
running and getting to an industrial scale in really quite a short
83. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough summarised
their experience of the problems this caused:
The programme had little central guidance initially
which delayed the development of the programme. Information relating
to the programme was not received by those implementing the programme
immediately, which delayed the number of referrals that could
be matched to jobs.
DWP accepted that fewer FJF jobs than expectedonly
5,000were created by the end of 2009.
It suggested that the reasons for these early delays were:
"Over-ambition from bidders, delays in issuing grant letters
(issued in early September), delays in these letters being returned,
changes to guidance for Jobcentre Plus advisers, and severe weather
in late 2009."
Julia Sweeney from DWP expanded on this:
Frankly, we underestimated how long the recruitment
process took for a lot of participating organisations. Many used
their mainstream recruitment systems, which took up to three months,
particularly if there were Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks
84. A number of other witnesses also pointed
to the length of time it took to process CRB checks as a contributory
factor to delays in the programme.
Mark Fisher confirmed that the Department would be applying
the lessons from the FJF in future, in terms of how to make the
CRB checking process as efficient and swift as possible whilst
applying the full rigour only in areas where it is needed.
Role of Jobcentre Plus
85. A significant theme running through much
of the written evidence was perceived inconsistencies in the service
provided by Jobcentre Plus (JCP), particularly in the early stages
of the programme. Some witnesses were concerned at the capacity
of JCP offices to refer suitable candidates for FJF posts or provide
appropriate information to candidates and employers. For example,
Crisis UK suggested that there was "a lack of clarity and
understanding for appropriate referrals from Jobcentre Plus".
The National Young Volunteers Service said that the service
provided by Jobcentre Plus was inconsistent across the country
and that its advisers should have received better communication
about the FJF.
The National Children's Bureau suggested that JCP offices
did not offer individuals sufficient support in terms of writing
suitable CVs, preparing candidates for interview and providing
timely and informative information to candidates about FJF vacancies.
86. Liverpool City Region stated that employers
found the standard of written application forms to be lower than
they would have expected, but that the calibre of individuals
was high when they had an opportunity to meet them.
Again, this suggests that some young people might have received
more effective support during the application process.
87. However, some witnesses were more positive
about the role of Jobcentre Plus. Wakefield Council described
their relationship with Jobcentre Plus as an "excellent partnership"
[...] puts the young person as the focus at all times
but also creates discussion concerning the nature of the vacancies
to be created, the planning of recruitment, job matching by JCP
staff, easing transition to work, regular contact 'behind the
scenes' and where unavoidable the sensitive transition back to
Tracy Fishwick also defended Jobcentre Plus, saying
it had experienced an increase in customers at the time the FJF
was introduced, and that it did not receive guidance straight
away on the rules and eligibility criteria for jobs. FJF partnerships
had had to define the process individually with Jobcentre Plus,
hence the variation between JCP services in different regions.
88. The Department's evidence states that costs
were incurred in addressing "early performance deficits",
particularly within Jobcentre Plus. This activity included "introducing
new initiatives to encourage more bids, performance improvement
planning, putting on Jobsfairs and work to help Lead Bodies to
streamline their recruitment processes". However, "once
the Future Jobs Fund's policies had had time to bed in, Jobcentre
Plus reported good progress".
89. We accept that the FJF programme
was, by necessity, implemented at speed, and that some teething
problems were inevitable. The recession meant that Jobcentre Plus
offices were already under significant pressure at the time the
scheme was rolled out. Nevertheless, many provided an admirable
service in delivering the FJF programme and we congratulate those
JCP staff on this achievement.
90. We do however have some
concerns. Some young people were not properly prepared for the
application and interview process. Jobcentre Plus has a clear
role to play in supporting candidates in the application process,
including the preparation of CVs and developing interview skills,
and in ensuring that employers receive accurate information about
candidates. DWP must ensure that JCP has the necessary resources
and support to provide this service.
91. Jobcentre Plus will be required
to play a significant role in implementing the Work Programme.
The Department must ensure that managers and frontline staff are
properly prepared for this and other new programmes so that support
is delivered to a high and consistent standard across the network
of JCP offices. We will return to this issue as part of our forthcoming
inquiry into the contracting arrangements for the Work Programme.
102 Q 121 Back
Q 137 Back
Ev w59 Back
Ev 49 Back
Ev 49 Back
Q 116 Back
Acacia Destiny, Ev w17; Hampshire County Council, Ev w79; Community
Skills Partnership, Ev w49, and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough,
Ev w59. Back
Q 141 Back
Ev w39 Back
Ev w128 Back
Ev w24 Back
Ev w151 Back
Ev w19 Back
Q 85 Back
Ev 49 Back