From education to employment

Employment Minister says there will be a place for small providers in delivering Flexible New Deal

DIUS and DWP working together to deliver skills.

A closer working partnership between DIUS and the Department of Work and Pensions is essential for full employment and world-class skills according to the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform.
Speaking at the Association of Learning Providers conference in Nottingham this week, Stephen Timms told delegates that the DWP would converge with the LSC to award joint contracts for the Flexible New Deal to providers. He also said that in the future Jobcentre Plus would be involved throughout the whole process of employment and training; their commitment would no longer end once employment had been found.
Mr Timms said: “Skills are critical for employment. A highly skilled workforce is necessary and we have to develop our skills base. Not only to compete in the global economy but also because acquiring skills helps to tackle family poverty, raise expectations and increase social mobility. We want commitment to training to be the norm.”
The minister said that smaller training companies would have every opportunity to contribute towards the Flexible New Deal, the Government strategy designed at getting the long-term inactive back to work. He acknowledged there had been concerns that the small providers may be squeezed out but said: “We acknowledge the importance of specialised and local providers. They may not have the capability to be prime contractors but they will be able to support them as sub-contractors”
Making reference to the Freud Report Mr Timms said that a small number of very large providers would hold regional contracts but that they would then sub-contract out to smaller specialised providers. “The emphasis is on delivering specialist support to meet individuals needs and local providers have an important part to play.”
There were calls from ALP members for reassurance that the Government would offer some protection in the event of another training provider going into administration following the recent collapse of Instant Muscle and Carter & Carter. Stephen Timms said that whilst he recognised it was a bad experience for those who had worked with the organisations that have folded, the priority would always be maintaining the provision to learners. He said: “We hope the cases that we have seen recently will not be repeated. However we have been successful in maintaining provision for customers. I hope that in the future we can offer protection to providers too but priority must be the learner.”
Rosie Spowart

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