Government's labour market interventions risk disjointing Plan for Jobs

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​The Department for Work & Pensions’ (DWP) £238 million Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) has provided another piece in the puzzle faced by people left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic, yet critics are warning that the government is at risk of diluting support to those in need.

Launched on Monday 5 October, JETS gives job seekers specialist advice on how to switch industries to find work in a growing sector as well as CV writing guidance and interview coaching.

Speaking to HR magazine, Dave Capper, CEO of Westfield Health, said he recognised the potential positive impact the new support could have for those who have been struggling over the past few months.

“At a time when furloughed workers’ confidence and wellbeing have taken such a hit, providing coaching and support to help them move to growing sectors will not only help individuals’ financial wellbeing and mental health, but also help to re energise a workforce and provide a much-needed boost to national productivity,” he said.

The scheme has been developed in partnership with specialist providers including Shaw Trust, a charity that helps disabled and disadvantaged people into employment.

Shaw Trust CEO Chris Luck said: “We aim to help participants return to work as swiftly as possible, as the first few months are critical in preventing long-term unemployment.

“As a social enterprise we are committed to maximising social value for those we support in our programmes, our commissioners and ultimately the taxpayer.”

Skills organisation City & Guilds Group has been actively advocating for a more comprehensive solution from government to support those out of work due to COVID-19.

Though CEO Kirstie Donnelly said that JETS has potential to help people get quickly back into work, she added that by launching so many separate initiatives under the Plan for Jobs, government is at risk of a disjointed approach.

Donnelly told HR magazine: “We risk creating a fragmented patchwork of employment programmes.

“This is our act now moment and if we are to stem unemployment and ensure people get the support they need now and in the future, we must join the dots and create a more holistic, long-term solution.”

Similarly, Sophie Wingfield, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said that although JETS has provided a “welcome focus” on helping people transition into growing industries, more information is needed about how it interacts with other government support schemes like the Kickstart scheme.

Speaking to HR magazine, Wingfield said: “The UK's recruitment industry is the expert when it comes to coaching and supporting people into new jobs and we are ready to assist the government to get people back to work."

JETS access was made available to many counties in England and Wales this week thought it will be extended to others from 19 and 26 October.

To be eligible for JETS, job seekers must have been out of work for at least 13 weeks.

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