The Wise Group supports the new interim measures and additional funding being made available to unemployed Scots.
The Scottish Government announced plans today for the devolved employment programmes, to replace the UK Governments Work Programme and Work Choice schemes for 2017/18 onwards. The employability service contracts were part of the devolved powers to the Scottish Government through the Smith Commission. Due to the importance of these programmes in helping the furthest removed from the job market, up to £20 million in additional funding will be provided by the Scottish Government. The additional support will treble the funding being made available in 2017/18.
The Wise Group welcomes the new arrangements to assist the long term unemployed and to help support vulnerable groups including those with disabilities and health conditions.
Work Choice will be replaced by a one year contract for existing providers to continue to provide ongoing support to disabled unemployed Scotland. In addition to this measure Skills Development Scotland (SDS) will use the mechanisms currently in place through the Employability Fund to deliver a service for individuals with a health condition and at risk of long term unemployment.
Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham said:
“New powers on employability are among the most exciting of the new areas to be devolved as it gives Scotland the chance to create something that works for unemployed Scots.
We are now looking ahead and working to deliver the aligned, effective and client-focused services which treat those who use services with respect and deliver the effective, efficient and responsive services unemployed Scots are entitled to expect for future years.”
The measures will be in place until March 31, 2018. This will be in advance of a Scottish Government-led procurement for a new employability programme to help unemployed Scots. The announcement follows an extensive consultation on the future of these contracts with stakeholders across Scotland in which the Wise Group were part of.
The Wise Group has long been an advocate that employability contracts need to be tailored to build on each customer’s strengths and abilities, and provide support to tackle any challenges they have that limit or prevent them seeking work. The schemes also have to ensure that employers’ needs are understood and can be met. Programmes also have to meet the commissioner’s needs, expectations and performance targets.
Laurie Russell, Chief Executive of the Wise Group, said
“We are pleased to hear of the additional investment from the Scottish Government in employability in Scotland. The consultative approach, by the Scottish Government, to designing the programmes is welcomed. We are confident that we can continue to work in partnership to transform the lives of those most in need of support.”