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Help for Jobseekers: Local Employers and Skills Providers

Volume 705: debated on Monday 13 December 2021

3. What plans she has to work with employers and skills providers at a local level to help more jobseekers into work. (904701)

5. What plans she has to work with employers and skills providers at a local level to help more jobseekers into work. (904703)

15. What plans she has to work with employers and skills providers at a local level to help more jobseekers into work. (904714)

Through our place-based approach, the DWP is working closely with employers, skills providers and other Departments to support people into work. Our jobcentres connect directly with local employers to discuss their recruitment needs and to offer tailored advice and support to help fill vacancies. This includes offering work experience opportunities and increasing the number of sector-based work academy programme places available.

I am delighted that more than 100 young people in the Scottish Borders have already started work through the kickstart scheme. What can the Government do to encourage employers to keep people on after the scheme ends?

I am delighted, too. I am pleased to announce that more than 112,000 kickstart jobs have been started by young people across the UK. Many young people have found permanent jobs through kickstart, and we continue to work closely with employers to help young people find those long-term employment opportunities. We have helped employers to move kickstart participants into apprenticeships more easily by working with colleagues in the Department for Education to ensure employers receive the incentive payments for doing so.

How has the Department worked with DFE to ensure that people on universal credit who are accessing new training and qualifications through the various Government schemes do not lose their universal credit entitlement as a result?

I assure my hon. Friend that we work closely with the Department for Education. With the existing flexibilities in the benefits system for people taking up that training, DWP Train and Progress allows universal credit claimants to participate in full-time work-related training for up to 12 weeks and to attend DFE skills boot camps for up to 16 weeks, including the recently announced HGV boot camps, which have more than 10,000 places available.

In North West Leicestershire, we are fortunate enough to have 1.1 jobs for every individual. However, a large amount of our unemployment is down to gaps in skills and training, so what will the Department do to solve that problem?

Through my hon. Friend’s Jobcentre Plus support and the flexibilities I described in DWP TAP, his constituents can now access level 3 courses for free, skills boot camps and other training opportunities that my Department has ensured all UC claimants can access by extending the length of time they can participate in full-time work-related training. In addition, we are investing £10 million annually over the next three years in the sector-based work academy programmes, delivering those life-changing opportunities in those key sectors.

The Minister talks the talk, but does she walk the walk? In places such as Huddersfield, we are creating a new syllabus for people who are 16, 18 and 21 to get into green jobs and green enterprise, but there is a lack of leadership from the Government and things are fragmented at the local level. Get your act together and do it properly. There is a whole green economy here, where we can save this fragile planet, but we need action now.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for asking me about walking the walk. I assure him that through our national employer and partnership team, NEPT, and the work we do across government and through the green jobs taskforce, we are absolutely tackling that. We have a direct strand of work, which I was engaged with just at the end of last week, that is making sure that those skills, abilities and opportunities in his constituency, and everyone else’s, are there for those who want to go into that bit of the economy.

The first Ways to Work centre opened in St Helens in June, with one to follow in Earlestown in the new year. It is locally designed and has been recently supported by Labour-led St Helens Council and the Liverpool city region respectively. It brings education, employment and training for local people together under one roof. Will the Minister join me in congratulating the project on making 1,300 unique interventions in just six months? Does she agree that this type of local model works? If so, will she help me to ensure it gets the funding it needs to be sustainable?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for everything he has mentioned, because we are doing that across the UK in 150 brand-new youth hubs. If he will listen to my answer, I hope he will understand that we are linked locally to the economy; we are keen for those job outcomes to come to his constituents and more widely, and this is being done through local interventions and local engagement.

The Tory trope is that UC helps people into work, but it has been a few years since the National Audit Office said that there is no way of measuring the outcomes and success of UC. So will the Minister tell me what measures are now in place to measure the outcomes of UC in getting people into work, particularly at the local level?

We absolutely measure the outcomes of all our programmes, particularly the sector-based work academy programmes. Of course, skills are devolved in Scotland. In my recent engagement with the Welsh Government and at the Welsh Affairs Committee, I pointed out that outcomes are not measured in Wales. I think this is a thing we should be doing in all devolved areas.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. People across the country who have had a really hard time at work in the past year need DWP Ministers focused on their jobs. It will not have escaped your notice that it was reported over the weekend that the DWP has joined the last Christmas naughty list of Whitehall lock-ins during lockdown, but it is not me the Secretary of State should be apologising to—it is the more than 100,000 young people who will not be helped by the time the underperforming kickstart scheme comes to a close before Christmas. So may I ask the Minister: when kickstart comes to a halt and thousands of young people still need help, what then?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question and welcome her to her post. I know that she has a strong interest in young people in every constituency doing as well as they can. Kickstart has not underperformed. Let us be honest: more than 112,000 young people have joined the programme. Of course, when we created the programme, we expected an unemployment level of perhaps 12%; it is just over 4%. Let us focus on the outcomes for those young people, which we are tracking carefully. We are linking up with the Department for Education to ensure that the traineeships and apprenticeships are there.

I know that visiting her jobcentre is on the hon. Lady’s to-do list. When she does so, I am sure she will hear amazing stories about what is happening to young people locally.

The Minister mentioned young people. The new inland border facility in Holyhead means that more than 200 jobs are coming to the island of Anglesey. How will the Minister ensure that those new jobs go to local young people?

My hon. Friend is such an assiduous Member of Parliament in standing up for Ynys Môn—I salute her for that. We have been working through the local jobcentre. In fact, she helped reopen the jobcentre and make sure it was safe, alongside the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman). Working with local employers and the jobcentre, she has made sure that there are buses and that people can access the jobs that are there. We will continue to work with her and the jobcentre on that.