The Department for Work and Pensions has been at the heart of helping to deliver the Government’s plan for jobs to support, protect and create jobs following the pandemic. A year on from its launch, I want to update the House on the progress we have made helping people across the country to move into work or gain the skills and experience that will open up job opportunities as the economy reopens and we build back better.
To ensure we can provide the vital employment support to help people get back into work, we have boosted our frontline jobseeker capacity and capability in towns and cities right across the country. Meeting our target in March to recruit 13,500 new work coaches, we have created Britain’s biggest ever jobs army and secured premises for 139 additional Jobcentres, 52 of which are already open. We have also opened 138 new youth hubs, co-located and co-delivered with our external partners, which are delivering a mix of face-to-face and digital support to young people.
Young people have been affected more than most by the pandemic, with many having had the rug pulled from under them at a critical time. Our kickstart scheme has been helping them land on their feet, with over 40,000 so far benefiting from work placements, gaining valuable skills, experience and confidence to build their future careers. It is fantastic to see that some kickstart graduates have already secured new jobs. As of 30 June, over 243,000 jobs have been approved for funding. With over 145,000 vacancies having been made available for young people to apply for, we are seeing more starts every day and we are working with employers to fill roles.
Alongside support offered across our nationwide network of Jobcentres, we have rapidly introduced a range of provision delivered through external providers, offering targeted and local help to job seekers.
For those out of work for three months or more, JETS—our job entry: targeted support scheme—has so far helped propel over 5,300 people into jobs by providing personalised support, including specialist advice on how they can move into growing sectors, CV advice and interview coaching. Up to the end of May there had been over 112,000 starts on the scheme in England and Wales since it launched in October last year and over 4,700 starts since the scheme started in Scotland in January this year.
We know some sectors have been impacted more than others during the pandemic and that many people will be looking for work in entirely different sectors. That is why SWAPs—our sector-based work academy programme—is helping people reskill, retrain and move towards growing sectors like construction, infrastructure and social care. Last financial year, 64,500 people benefited from this support, and we have increased the number of available placements to 80,000 to enable more people to take advantage.
Job finding support
Our job-finding support is providing digital help and support for newly unemployed people. Delivered online, and so available throughout covid restrictions, it provides one-to-one advice and group support to help familiarise jobseekers with recruitment practices, identify transferable skills, and develop a personalised job finding action plan.
And as our economy restarts, our £2.9 billion restart scheme is now offering a fresh start for a million long-term unemployed people in England and Wales. Specialist providers, charities and SMEs are complementing the important work of jobcentres to provide additional expertise, investment, innovation and capacity for tailored support.
With the success of the vaccine roll-out and as we continue to open our economy and society, there are encouraging improvements in the employment figures, a continued rise in vacancies, and increasing numbers of people on company payrolls.
The Government plan for jobs, through the coronavirus job retention scheme and other support, has protected jobs and kept millions of people connected to the labour market during our emergency response to the pandemic. Now, through the continued delivery of our part of plan for jobs, we are helping get Britain back on its feet.