Low percentage of workers getting jobs is a ‘concern’

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It’s a matter of concern just seven per cent of unemployed Londonderry workers undertaking the work experience strand of the Government’s Steps to Work (StW) scheme are finding jobs.

That’s according to inspectors who found that the progression rate into employment for participants on the Back to Work strand of StW in the Londonderry area was ‘too low.’

According to the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI), which examined local StW provision in December 2013: “It is a concern...that the participant progression rate into employment for the Back to Work strand, which accounts for just under one-third of the provision, has not increased in line with the overall rate.

“It remains too low at seven per cent, which is significantly below the Northern Ireland average of 20 per cent for this strand. Most of the participants on the Back to Work strand are making progress in developing occupational, employability and transferrable skills relevant to their job goals.

“Almost all of them report that their confidence and motivation have improved significantly. The overall outcomes into employment, however, are poor at only seven per cent.”

Back in 2008, the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) introduced StW, which subsumed the main New Deal programmes. Since October 2012. Bryson FutureSkills has been Lead Contractor on the Foyle StW contract and has offices on Spencer Road and Castle Street.

The ETI report states: “Actions to address these very low outcomes are a high priority for the Lead Contractor. Work is ongoing to increase the proportion of participants in private sector work experience placements, which has increased by 13 per cent since the first phase of the inspection.”

The first inspection occurred in May 2013, with the secondary inspection following in December. At the time of the inspection, there were 496 participants registered on the Steps to Work programme. There were 136 (30 per cent) on the Back to Work strand.

In general, however, the inspectors found provision to have been good, stating: “In the areas inspected, the quality of the Steps to Work adult employment programme provided by Bryson FutureSkills in the Foyle Contract area is good. The organisation is meeting effectively the needs of the participants, and has demonstrated its capacity for sustained improvement.”