From education to employment

2013: ‘the critical year’ for the Work Programme

This year the Welfare to Work conference heard Alan Cave, delivery director of DWP, discuss the positives and foreseeable improvements of the payment-for-results Work Programme, which aims to reduce unemployment by taking people off welfare and into employment.

Cave celebrates the successes of the scheme, which has already shown better engagement with employers, a greater use of IT, and the addition of more work experience earlier in the programme.

He remains optimistic that the programme will deliver a higher performance throughout its five to seven year course, provided that the government supply the right incentives. The director believes that by paying for outcomes, giving providers flexibility to change, and creating long contracts, the government will increase the popularity of the scheme, reduce benefit spending, and ultimately increase employment.

Cave does not believe these changes have been witnessed so far, however, he looks to companies like Tesco and Apple to see what has taken these businesses to the top of their fields, and learn from their successes.

He puts the success of these business leaders down to exceptional leadership, that “challenges basic assumptions” about the field. He also acknowledges the need to challenge accepted wisdom in the way department approaches business, with the willingness to challenge. Finally, Cave calls for “a really restless approach to self-criticism”, throughout the long course of the work programme, in order to consistently improve by setting “challenging goals”.

Although Cave admits the existing difficulties in the labour market make the programme’s goals all the more difficult, his optimism leads him to believe that 2013 will be “the critical year” for change and improvement in the Work Programme, and if work providers have the ability to implement lasting change, then the public will be able to see a step up in the scheme.

Daisy Atkinson

Click on our video interview below to find out more:

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