Government’s own report finds the Future Jobs Fund, which they cut, was very effective


by Richard Exell    
12:13 pm - May 16th 2011

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Blink and you’ll miss it: the government hasn’t exactly gone overboard to publicise the Department for Work and Pensions’ new report on the experience of people taking part in the Future Jobs Fund.

The study found that the quality of jobs on the FJF was often high, that Jobcentre Plus (which the government thinks is not up to running the Work Programme) generally managed it well and that the programme had been a huge help in getting jobs.

We know the sort of report the government would have liked to get:

Back in June last year, when they cancelled the FJF, they called it “ineffective” and Ministers trash it at every opportunity.

This means that Customer Experience of the Future Jobs Fund by Janet Allaker and Sarah Cavill is actually quite a brave report because it follows the evidence even when it leads in a direction Ministers won’t like.

This study suggests that FJF has been successful in preparing customers for work and, for many participants their reported experiences had been to such a high standard, that they could not think of any improvements to the scheme. The significant boost to CVs from six months of work experience and the improvements to customers’ skills sets are likely to remain long-term, however there is a risk that some of the softer gains of FJF could dissipate without a swift transition into a non-subsidised job.

Ever since last year’s announcement, I’ve been surprised that the government has repeatedly announced the failure of the Future Jobs Fund, before any evidence was available.

What we can say is that the official statistics rather suggest that the people who took part in the programme are right to rate it so highly.

Iain Duncan Smith makes great play of the fact that, eight months after starting on FJF (that is, two months after the subsidy for their job came to an end) just under half are back on benefit. But the same statistics show that a third of those who leave for ordinary unsubsidised employment are in the same position.

You’d expect a job that was created by a public subsidy to end once the subsidy runs out – so FJF has really helped unemployed people to take their participation in the programme and turn it into increased ability to get an open job. 50% in employment after the programme ends is pretty good in comparison with, for instance, the low quality work experience programmes we’re used to.

One of the problems with low quality employment programmes is that participants don’t value them, employers don’t value them and that disregard translates into ineffectiveness. The new research suggests that the Future Jobs Fund broke that cycle of disillusion and disappointment.

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About the author
Richard is an regular contributor. He is the TUC’s Senior Policy Officer covering social security, tax credits and labour market issues.
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Reader comments


1. Shatterface

This is the same Future Jobs Fund which was denounced for ‘forcing’ people back to work up till the coalition decided to scrap it?

Hold on. I must be misinterpreting what you’re saying. You’re saying that half of FJF participants were back on the dole after eight months compared to a third of non-participants, and that this is a success because the people on FJF liked it?

I’m pretty sure that if I was unemployed for a year I’d like a job, too. But subsidising it on the basis that I wanted to be in work seems rather silly; lots of people want to be work but aren’t. You can’t just make up jobs for them. If the FJF was less successful than leaving people to their own devices, then it was clearly right to scrap it.

But perhaps I’ve misunderstood you. I hope so, as I can’t see how anyone sane could hold your position.

“Iain Duncan Smith makes great play of the fact that, eight months after starting on FJF (that is, two months after the subsidy for their job came to an end)just under half are back on benefit. But the same statistics show that a third of those who leave for ordinary unsubsidised employment are in the same position. ”

Have I got this right?

You’re saying that the FJF is less effective than doing nothing?

That 50% of those who go through the FJF go back on benefit, while of those who get no help, no training, only 33% do?

And if that is what you’re saying, are you really using it as an argument to continue funding the FJF?

4. Luis Enrique

Adam Bell

selection effects make all this data very hard to interpret.

For sake of argument, say there are two types of unemployed people, those who are highly employable and those whose employability is low.

Then suppose the high type find work on their own initiative, 30 per cent being back on the dole a year later, and the low types enter into FJF, 50 per cent being back on dole a year later. For all we know, this could be a roaring success – perhaps 70% of low types would be on the dole a year later, absent FJF.

Or maybe it’s simply that a certain percentage of FJF participants find a non-subsidized job they liked enough to leave, and so leave the scheme, so the attachment rates of these individuals is plainly going to be higher than those who stay on the scheme. It’s still possible FJF is raising the employment prospects overall.

I’m not sure of the details – these are just illustrative possibilities. You’re right the success of these scheme isn’t, on the basis of the OP, quite as self-evident as the author says. Perhaps the DWP report does a fuller job.

5. Cynical/Realist?

Tim – you do know the 33% figure relates to people who go from benefits to full employment? Not people who had ‘nothing’? The people who got assistance from FJF are people who would have found it extreamly tough (indeed HAD found it extreamly tough) to get work, so no, its not like comparing it with doing nothing at all.

The ‘normal’ jobs with the 33%/77% split are still there and being taken by other people, people who had out-competed the FJF participants (young people with little to be able to make employers take a chance on them). And yet these bastions of the jobs market, those able to float into a new job and damn those left on the dumpheap STILL 33% of the time end up back out of it. Probably lazy goodfernowts eh?

6. Greg Sheppard

As someone who worked on the Future Jobs Fund from an employer’s perspective and someone who was initially hired through the scheme after finishing uni and there being no employment locally I can say it has been really good for all the people organisation has hired from the scheme.

The lead bid organisations that I dealt with like Groundwork and 3SC did very well and well respectively with the scheme administration.

Unfortuately saying the Job Centre handled it well is like saying Enron handled the american energy markets well.
The scheme was great I owe so much to it. However having to deal with the Jobcentre was the single worst and most stressful thing i’ve done in any job.
The Jobcentre is the single most useless organisation i have ever come across, both on an organisation and institutional level and (with some exceptions) on an individual level.

Speaking to various people in the lead organisations there were constantly large issues with the JCP and their handling of it. Few of the advisors seemed aware of it and because the jobs had to be referred and were not searchable on the main database most young people were also unaware of the scheme. It was a complete nightmare. We had some very good office jobs going, well paid for what they were and in a town that was in the top 10 for youth unemployment at the time.

The JCP just need sto be completely scrapped and started from scratch with completely new staff and new organisation etc

@Shatterface It did not work like that, it was an option not being forced to work. It was an employer’s subsidy rather than a forced work situation.

@Adam Bell
you are getting the figures mixed up or at the very least skewing them so not applying like to like so your argument really isnt valid.

Firstly there is the issue around leaving JSA, most will the the higher turnover under 3 months and then under 6 months people. These will include people out of work for a week or two.

The FJF was only available to those unemployed for over 6 months and an entirely different category (well sub set) of claiments where real problems begin to develop. Go find the results for under 25s unemployed for over 6 months leaving JSA onto a non-FJF jobs and their return to benefits rate.

In some areas with high unemployment etc figures of 50%ish between 6 and 12 months would be very low.

Ideally they would have had regional and area breakdowns as well.
I would like to see the difference in rates in london and the north east as that would also help comparison.

@Luis:
Totally agree about selection effects – the DWP report claims that their comparison cohort was similarly aged people who’d likewise been out of work for over a year, the condition for participation in FJF. It’s difficult to be clear on this, but I think we can agree that a report that says unemployed people liked being in work isn’t justification for the Government to invent jobs for them.

@Greg:

Quoted from the DWP report the OP got his figures from:

“There are challenges in finding suitable comparison groups for FJF starters. The bulk of FJF participants within the first cohort had been claiming JSA for between nine and 12 months when they started FJF, therefore for consistency we have also used the same conditions when selecting our second comparison group i.e.

-For the first cohort we have identified 18 to 24 year olds who reached nine to twelve months unemployment and left to employment (excluding FJF) between 1st October 2009 and 30th November 2009.

-For the second cohort we have identified 18 to 24 year olds who reached nine to
twelve months unemployment and left to employment (excluding FJF) between 1st October 2009 and 31st March 2010.”

It’s not an unreasonable comparison, and appears to meet your criteria.


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  41. Huw Irranca-Davies

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  62. Youth Unemployment in Greater Manchester: Is Anyone Listening? | East of the M60

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  63. Paul Krishnamurty

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