Last week, we published our evaluation of the options developed by DWP to provide post-Work Programme support to the ‘very long-term unemployed’. Two different approaches to address persistent barriers to work were tested by DWP in a Randomised Control Trial. The first, the Ongoing Case Management programme, or OCM, involved six months of intensive support from a dedicated Jobcentre Plus Personal Adviser. The second option, the Community Action Programme or CAP, delivered by external providers, involved six-month work placements, designed to benefit the community, of 30 hours a week and help with job search.
Our evaluation analyses the performance of the two options against a control group on the ‘business as usual’ model. At around the end of the six month programme, CAP and OCM did not appear to perform any better than the control group in helping people to enter paid work. However, we found that both options increased job seeking activity and made significant progress in terms of softer impacts such as motivation, confidence, attitudes towards work and removing barriers to work. It is our belief that in time these softer impacts may yet translate into job outcomes if claimants are able to keep up the momentum gained. DWP are planning longer term analysis of SVLTU job outcomes in 2013.
The evaluation also explored the strengths of the two programmes in meeting the diverse and wide-ranging needs of long term claimants. Perhaps unsurprisingly, OCM with its focus on intensive, one to one support helped advisers better understand customers’ needs and allowed for more personalised support. CAP as a protracted, full-time work placement successfully emulated a ‘real job’ and filled a gap in customers’ work histories providing both recent work experience and the positive impacts on self-esteem and worth afforded by job satisfaction. On the basis of these findings we recommend that following a needs assessment, those with the most severe and persistent barriers are given tailored and intensive adviser support and if and when appropriate referred to a protracted work placement relevant to their skills and career interests.
The first cohort of Work Programme customers complete their two year journey with the programme in summer 2013, for those who have not secured employment an adequate post-Work Programme support is absolutely crucial. Without understanding the diversity of the customer group and the way in which support should be designed and timed to most help them, a future without very long-term unemployment will not be possible.