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Putting skills at the heart of our Plan for Jobs – Exclusive with Mims Davies

Mims Davies MP is Minister for Employment
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In her exclusive article, Employment Minister @MimsDavies explains how DWP is putting skills at the heart of our Plan for Jobs

Through our Plan for Jobs, my department is set to make nearly two million interventions in people’s lives – supporting them to get back into work, take advantage of new opportunities or consider a new direction in their working lives.

Our new employment schemes are on top of the bespoke support each and every Universal Credit claimant receives from our fantastic Work Coaches, who provide thousands of people with reassurance, guidance and tailored help and whose numbers we’re boosting by recruiting an additional 13,500 across the country. Our schemes are also being delivered alongside a whole host of wider government initiatives, including focus on green jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships.

As Employment Minister, I’m incredibly proud of the dogged determination the British people have shown when faced with all of the challenges of the last year. When I speak to people who have been made unemployed by the pandemic what often strikes me is their positivity, and their desire to pick themselves up and get back into work as quickly as possible.

When considering the vast ambition of our Plan for Jobs, it’s all too easy to get lost in the big numbers. But remember that behind the headline figures are individual stories of people succeeding at getting into work. Often these are people who have faced uncertainty in the past twelve months, who may have worried about providing for their families, but are now back in work and looking towards a brighter future. We should celebrate each of these stories.

As we navigate the challenges ahead, I want to ensure we’re ready for the jobs market of the future.

We continue to think creatively and help people pivot from the struggling to surging sectors of our economy. Our Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) is at the centre of that. The scheme provides up to six weeks of training and work experience within a sector as well as a job interview linked to an actual vacancy.

More than 40,000 people have already successfully completed a SWAP since April 2020 – an average of 1,200 people each week starting on the path to a new career, learning new skills and developing a new network of contacts. Building on that success we have announced an increase in the number of SWAP places available next financial year to 80,000.

One of the reasons SWAPs are particularly brilliant is because they open doors to careers that many people may not have ever considered before, allowing people to make all kinds of journeys; from logistics to care, for example. And I know that because of my own life experiences.

Before I got into politics I worked all types of jobs

Before I got into politics I worked all types of jobs – yoghurt factory worker, grill cook at a Little Chef and radio DJ, the list goes on. They sound a million miles from where I work now, but I can tell you for a fact that I use the skills and confidence I learnt in each of these roles every day.

SWAPs are open to people at any stage of life, providing opportunities to gain the confidence and skills needed to start work in a totally new sector. Recently I spoke to Steven Walters from Horsham in West Sussex, who had retrained in construction at the age of 60 after a long career in the events industry. Speaking about his new role, his passion, energy and enthusiasm were all clear – and it proves you can reach for a hard hat and high-vis at any age in this vital sector.

But of course we know that young people have been hit hardest by this pandemic and improving their job prospects is a major focus of our Plan for Jobs.

Our flagship programme, the Kickstart Scheme has already created over 120,000 vacancies for 16-24 year-olds in just the first few months since it started.  Employers of all types, right across the country are getting on board and creating new roles through the scheme – roles that offer a step up onto the jobs ladder for young people without much work experience. We’re now working tirelessly to help get young people working in these new jobs so they can rack up the valuable experience they need.

On top of this, a new enhanced Youth Offer was established in September, with a commitment to open more than a hundred Youth Hubs across Great Britain – in colleges, community and youth Centres, libraries, local authority buildings and sports venues. It means young jobseekers can easily access employment support, training and advice on issues like housing, or budgeting. We’re not waiting around for people to come to us for help – we’re going out into local communities and getting help to them. Our Youth Employment Programme offers 13 weeks of wrap around support to help young people access the positive provision available as part of the Plan for Jobs.

We know some people will only need a little help to return to work after losing their jobs in the last few months

We know some people will only need a little help to return to work after losing their jobs in the last few months. Sometimes it can just take a bit of a confidence boost, or help with an application to get someone back into work, especially if they haven’t had to apply for jobs in a number of years. Our Job Finding Support service and JETS scheme will provide support for more than 400,000 people who have lost jobs due to the pandemic; with advice on how to build vital skills, CV and interview guidance and help people’s understanding of moving into growing sectors.

Other people may need more help if they’ve been out of work for more than a year. It can sometimes feel like a real hurdle getting back into work after a lengthy gap in employment, and our £2.9bn Restart programme will provide enhanced employment support to over a million jobseekers to help them fire up their work search.  My priority now too is turning to making sure we have choices and support wrapped together for the over 50’s.  

My priority now too is turning to making sure we have choices and support wrapped together for the over 50’s.

Our Plan for Jobs is a plan for everyone and, while our workforce has always been resilient, we need to meet the changing demands of our jobs market. The pandemic has created never before seen challenges for our jobs market, but we are ready to overcome them – millions of people are now vaccinated, with thousands more getting the jab each day, and as we look ahead we are ensuring that the United Kingdom in on a course to build back better and level up opportunity across the nation.

Mims Davies MP is Minister for Employment

Mims’ team provided some data on the Employability Scheme and the estimated number of people that will be supported: 

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Scheme

Estimated number of people supported

Kickstart

250,000

SWAP

120,000

JETS

285,000

JFS

160,000

Restart

1,000,000

Work Coaches

13,500 recruited by April

Total

1,828,500

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