From education to employment

Take past performance into account when commissioning employment programmes


To date welfare-to-work programmes have been commissioned based on ‘quality’ and ‘price’. Performance has not been included in the evaluation criteria.

This article argues that past performance should be taken into account in commissioning employment services. Indeed it should be the primary factor in deciding who to award contracts to.

Why should performance be taken into account when commissioning employment services?

Past performance is the most reliable guide that we have to future performance. This is a basic principle of scientific reasoning. Organisations that have performed well in the past at supporting jobseekers into sustained employment are likely to continue to perform well. Conversely organisations that have consistently underperformed are likely to underperform in the future.

Past performance is not a perfect guide to future performance but it is the best guide that we have. Across all fields of human activity the most reliable guide to the future is past data.

Performance matters in welfare-to-work. High performance leads to more people moving from benefits into sustained employment. High performance benefits the individuals that are supported into employment and the taxpayer in the form of lower levels of benefit payments.

The current Work Programme demonstrates the differential that exists between high performing organisations and low performing organisations.

The graph below shows the performance gulf that exists across providers.

Related Articles