Funding for pilot project to help vulnerable find work

future look: The working group to run the pilot scheme to help the disadvantaged was launched at the futuristic Factory 2050 earlier this month. 'Picture: andrew roe
future look: The working group to run the pilot scheme to help the disadvantaged was launched at the futuristic Factory 2050 earlier this month. 'Picture: andrew roe
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Getting a job and staying in a job can be difficult enough in this competitive age.

Imagine how much more difficult it can be if you have problems with housing, or you might have just left care, have special educational needs, or have been made redundant in an industry in decline.

It would be only too easy to give up the struggle to work.

We know that in the Sheffield City Region (SCR) we have high levels of economic inactivity. It’s important to us to tackle that, and to create employment that includes everyone.

So we’re very pleased that we’re one of only six regions in England to be chosen to run an innovative pilot project under which the City Region will get up to £5m from the Department of Work and Pensions to help 3,000 disadvantaged people and those at risk of becoming long-term unemployed.

Our JobCentres do a great job but they aren’t resourced to help people with these more complex issues.

The pilot, backed by Ministers David Gauke and Jake Berry, starts in January and runs for five years.

Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, David Gauke said: “We have record numbers of people in work which is great news, but there are still people missing out on the available opportunities because of barriers to employ-ment.

“This new scheme led by the Sheffield City Region is a great step forward in our efforts to identify groups of people most at risk of long-term unemployment, and ways we can support them in work.

“This pilot is yet another step forward in our efforts to help people of all backgrounds enjoy the benefits of work, and will boost the wide ranging support we currently offer through local experts like Jobcentre Plus.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry added: “We’re boosting jobs and growth across the Northern Powerhouse, with Sheffield City Region set to benefit from up to £5m.

“This pilot will help people across Sheffield City Region to find high quality jobs and help the people most vulnerable in the jobs market.”

To underpin the pilot, the SCR is establishing local working groups of professionals across a wide range of specialisms – debt, housing, care, skills, employer engagement and support, money management, lifestyle and motivational coaching.

They will meet regularly to share ways to help jobseekers facing complex obstacles and to integrate the support.

Earlier this month we launched the working groups at a packed meeting at the futuristic Factory 2050 – a fitting place to launch a futuristic venture.

The pilot is one of three forward-looking SR projects which are putting us firmly in the vanguard of proactive help for the unemployed.

Together they are designed to help up to 10,000 people, including the pilot which will work with 3,000.

Our ‘Skills for Jobs Growth’ programme provides access to skills updating for those recently unemployed who need a small amount of training to help them secure employment – ideal for those recently redundant.

This will help 2,000 people.

And a ‘Health-led’ trial focuses on people with a health issue which prevents them from working.

Referrals will come through GP surgeries when they think patients are able to work and is for people who have a mild or moderate mental or musculoskeletal issue, and support will be available for both unemployed and employed.

It is ideal for people who are not engaging with JobCentre Plus because of their health, or who are in work but struggling and as a result not productive. It will help 4,500 people across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw over 30 months.

National Government can’t do this work – it needs a local response. Because we are a well-established and high performing city region with a history of working with Government on skills, infrastructure, trade and investment, we can drive these projects.

We’ve seen 37,000 new jobs created in the past two years with many of these in highly productive manufacturing and engineering roles – plus broad growth in services.

So we’re ideally placed to help people struggling to work – and we will.

We are in the vanguard of this work.

As we see the numbers of our high value jobs growing we are ensuring that no-one in our communities misses out on this growth.

City Region smashes targets

Figures released this month show that in its first year the Growth Hub team at Sheffield City Region smashed its own targets for business support many times.

By the end of April this year the Growth Hub – the region’s central point for all business support – and its specialist advisers had worked with 4,122 businesses.

The target was 500. And the region’s businesses are pleased: the feedback is that they are getting ‘excellent’ support and the Growth Hub has been awarded a satisfaction rating of 89 per cent across the three different levels of help – light, medium and high.