Last week the Government announced £35 million funding to support new employment schemes across the country. Pilots will be launched in six combined authorities, with the aim of helping over 18,000 people tackle long-term barriers to work and offering support with in-work progression.
What’s interesting about these programmes is that they are different in each combined authority, reflecting the diverse challenges that these places face in addressing these issues. For example, the pilot in Liverpool City Region will focus on households where two or more adults are out of work, and Sheffield City Region Combined Authority will set up an early intervention system for individuals at risk of long-term unemployment. Tackling the issue from a different angle, Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority will launch a ‘Health and Care Sector Progression Academy’. Funding was also allocated to the West Midlands Combined Authority, Tees Valley and the West of England Combined Authority.
With work being identified as the most successful way out of poverty, it is welcome to see the Government investing in these pilots. As our research on City Deals and Skills already stressed two years ago, a locally tailored approach to employment and skills can have positive effects. And well-designed employment schemes helping people into employment, and with in-work progression, can also play a role in improving productivity across the country.
So what are the next steps for local authority officers involved in these pilots? It is all about the evidence, in two ways. In the short term, officers should try to make the most out of existing case studies and their evaluation – when available. In the long term – once the projects will be up and running – local authorities should ensure the pilots are accurately monitored and evaluated.
To support officers on this second point, the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth has made available a ‘How to evaluate’ toolkit which introduces ways of improving the evaluation of local growth policy. To support them on the first point, we’ve been pulling together our extensive back catalogue of case studies over the years.
For example, those working on the ‘Household into Work’ pilot in Liverpool City Region might be interested in the experience of Wolverhampton Homes. The organization has supported residents of housing associations in Wolverhampton to become more employable by offering a service that also takes into account the caring responsibilities of its participants.
And local authority officers in Sheffield City Region may be interested in the work of Youth Competence Centres in Antwerp, Belgium. The centres have been closely working with 16-25 years old from disadvantaged backgrounds, running an outreach programme and supporting them with intensive coaching.
These are just two examples. To date, we have collected more than 150 case studies, from the UK and abroad, on all our main policy areas. Our case study library will be available later this month, with a full selection of best practice on employment and skills and beyond, so watch this space for more details.