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Unemployment (Yeovil)

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps his Department plans to take to encourage long-term unemployed people in Yeovil constituency to return to education and training. (82180)

Responsibility for encouraging long-term unemployed people to return to education and training is shared between the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

Both Departments, along with their respective delivery agencies Jobcentre Plus (JCP) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), are working closely together to ensure that long-term unemployed people have the skills they need to secure sustainable and productive jobs. There has already been significant progress in joint working between the LSC and JCP and a joint delivery plan is currently being developed which will cover the Yeovil area in order to meet local employment and skills needs.

The Government’s skills strategy sends out a strong signal about the priority we attach to helping adults with few or no qualifications to attain a platform of wider employability skills. All those on jobseeker’s allowance or income related benefits and their dependents receive free tuition in further education, in addition to the support available through their local JCP office. Unemployed people also have access to in-depth advice about their education and training options through the Learndirect one-stop telephone and online advice service.

The Government do, however, recognise that more needs to be done to tackle long-term unemployment and published a Green Paper in January 2006 “A New Deal for Welfare: Empowering People to Work” including measures to help low skilled adults secure employment through the New Deal for Skills. These include piloting skills coaching in a number of JCP districts and our latest evidence shows that skills coaching is helping long-term unemployed people improve their employability skills.

In addition, the Chancellor announced in his Budget Report that Lord Leitch’s review of skills would be extended to include better alignment of measures to tackle worklessness to support labour market flexibility, better employment outcomes and greater progression to productive and sustainable jobs for those with skill needs. We expect Lord Leitch’s report this autumn and my Department looks forward to working with the Department of Work and Pensions to take forward Lord Leitch’s proposals.