The Government’s employment and skills programmes are in need of "radical" revisions to help get people back into work, warns the Association of Learning Providers (ALP).
The trade body for Britain’s employment and training providers believes some of the planned reforms to the flagship New Deal scheme were designed for a totally different economic landscape. Private, public and voluntary sector providers are therefore calling for the proposals to be placed on the backburner immediately, or completely overhauled.
Graham Hoyle OBE, ALP’s chief executive, said: "There is a widely held suspicion across the provider network that many of the current bids under consideration are unrealistic, but nevertheless have been produced as a means of ‘staying in contention’ in the hope or expectation of renegotiation after contract approval. This is no way to commission multi-billion pound government services. The new economic situation demands an immediate review of output funding rates."
ALP has outlined an alternative set of measures to ministers which call for increased integration of publicly-funded employment and training programmes. It believes unemployed people need intensive training as quickly as possible, especially due to the predicted drop in low skilled jobs over the next ten years. The organisation is seeking eligibility for retraining support to be available for all unemployed people after just six months, or even earlier.
Ministers have also been urged to significantly increase the number of prime contractors to respond to soaring demand, and the ALP is calling on them to place priority on those with a successful track record in delivering skills and employment programmes for the LSC and Jobcentre Plus. Above all, the trade boy wants the Government’s response to rocketing unemployment to recognise the need to re-skill unemployed people in the face of a drastic decline of non-skilled jobs.
Mr Hoyle added: "The jobs-first strategy that has dominated the government approach to welfare-to-work for decades is no longer appropriate and has to go. Ministers recognise this but we have yet to see things change on the ground."