Come on David, it’s time for a change of plan!

Back in March I looked at our statistics and their relationship with the national statistics published by the government.  Amid some glorious news celebrating a reduced level of unemployment – it dropped to 2.51m  in the March to May quarter compared with a peak of 2.7m in 2011 – and despite evidence of more job opportunities, progress is very slow.

Meanwhile in reviewing our statistics for the last quarter, we are achieving resettlement of more than half our delegates in just 3 months, and over 70% are resettling within 6 months.

One of the most frustrating things about the government-sponsored support given to jobseeker allowance claimants across the country is that they restrict serious support to those who have been unemployed for at least 3 months.  By then, looking at our April-June statistics this year, 54% of our employer-sponsored delegates were already back in work.

I do wonder at the government’s logic for delaying support.  And why they need to allow delegates on the Work Programme to then stay on it for up to two years.  None of our delegates take this long to get a job, and to work at it for this long would be very depressing as well as becoming habit-forming.

In our experience, the first few sessions of support are needed to help each person, almost without exception, to start to feel good about themselves again.  Gaining confidence that they are worth something to other organisations beyond their last employer is vital to success when presenting at interview.  We see our delegates move from despair (which has been much more common since the recession hit) to believing that they can get another job.  Not just any job, but one that suits them, motivates them and challenges them.  What that means for them is they will enjoy their new work and will want to stay.

Meanwhile government schemes using charities and private firms to support the unemployed offer little incentive.  Primarily referring people with more than 3 months of often misguided and usually self-directed effort behind them already means there is a mountain to climb just in order to get them to believe they are worth something.  Until this is achieved, all the interview practise in the world won’t help them get a job.

To present well, any of us must first be convinced we deserve it and know that we want it!  Once there, the job search can begin in earnest.  Yet still there is little to reward private providers unless and until their delegates find and stick with a job for 3-6 months too.

This may seem fair – otherwise surely the incentive would be to shove people into jobs that they will soon leave?  But it is dispiriting and unprofitable, so serious players in the career transition business don’t bother.

Latest statistics show that the biggest losers are our young people.  February-April 2013 statistics show there are 1.65m in this age bracket who are not in work and not looking for work.  And Nick Clegg is talking about how we are letting them down with schemes that do not help them make career decisions and start to plan their future.

As I review our statistics each quarter, and note a consistent 3 month resettlement level of 50%+, I am frustrated by this situation.  So much more could be done to help the most needy, and with it save public money currently dished out to many who would much rather be out there working for a pay packet.  How different might the unemployment statistics look if 50% could be back in work within 3 months, and – perhaps even more importantly – how different would the atmosphere in our national JobCentres be?

Sarah Chiumento