Select Committee on Education and Employment First Special Report


Eighth Report:  The New Deal Pathfinders (HC 1059)

Eighth Report:  The New Deal Pathfinders (HC 1059)
Published: 4 August 1998
Government Reply:  Eighth Special Report,

 Session 1997-98 (HC 1123)


Published: 9 October 1998

Recommendation

Government Response

Further Government Action

We recommend that statistics showing the numbers of participants who are not seen as ready to enter any of the options after four months be collated in each Employment Service District, and that these be supplied to us later this year. This will help to inform any decision on whether Personal Advisers should have flexibility to extend the Gateway beyond four months for young people who are not considered ready to enter any of the options.

We are keeping performance of the Gateway under close review and we have no reason to suspect that four months is insufficient for participants' needs. It was never, of course, intended that the Gateway could resolve all barriers to employment. That is why the design of New Deal includes three options besides employment; Full-Time Education and Training; the Environment Task Force; and the Voluntary Sector Option. These enable participants to enhance their employability outside the labour market itself either by acquiring qualifications on which they missed out at earlier stages in their careers or by acquiring work experience and skills, together with training, in the voluntary sector or on the Environment Task Force. The design also provides for the work of the Gateway to be followed up with the continuing support of the New Deal Personal Adviser.

Statistics are available from the New Deal Evaluation Database showing numbers of young people currently on the Gateway for more than four months. This information is available by client characteristic—gender, disability, ethnicity and on a Unit by Unit basis.

We recognise that some people need extra support whilst in Gateway and have responded by introducing nationally from June 2000, Intensive Gateway which offers more intensive support in the first two months of Gateway.

Intensification involves an increase in adviser contact (i.e. weekly interviews), and a mandatory two week Gateway to Work (GTW) programme, typically in the second month of Gateway. The GTW programme includes jobsearch activity and employer involvement, and sessions addressing the soft skills of timekeeping, self presentation, and communication.

Intensive Gateway aims to:

_ maximise the numbers securing an unsubsidised job;

_ help young people make appropriate use of range of Gateway provision;

_ improve the identification of those needing referral to specialist provision to address problems such as homelessness, or drug or alcohol misuse;

_ help young people who do not secure jobs to prepare for participation in a New Deal option.


From the evidence which we have received, it is clear that the system of Personal Advisers is working well. Their efforts are crucial to the success of the New Deal, and we are impressed with their performance at this early stage. Caseload capacity should be closely monitored, especially as the workload in providing continuing support to clients throughout the new Deal options is still uncertain. If caseloads become too large, we fear the unique contribution of personal advisers will be nullified. As the additional New Deal Programmes are put in place and the numbers of eligible clients expands, the Employment Service must ensure that Personal Advisers of the necessary calibre are recruited in sufficient numbers. The responsibility of District Managers to offer proper training and management support will also be essential.

We are pleased that the Select Committee have concluded that the system of Personal Advisers is working well. New Deal Personal Advisers were drawn from the ranks of experienced advisers and received specialist training to equip them for their enhanced role. At the same time we are very conscious of the need to monitor case loads and their relationship to performance. We are currently looking in depth at the management of New Deal Personal Adviser caseloads in order to ensure that advisers can deliver their full part in New Deal as we and the Select Committee would want.

A considerable amount of work has been undertaken to support advisers. The use of adviser managers has been expanded further over recent months and advisers are being supported by District quality advisers and co­ordinators. At the same time the use of senior advisers is being tested in at least three units of delivery in each Region. Both of these developments should contribute to giving advisers better support, development and coaching and also provide an avenue of progression which encourages our best advisers to remain in advisory work.

We welcome the reduction in the ratio of submissions to placements in jobs, and we urge Ministers to ensure that this reduction is maintained. The Employment Service should publish on a regular basis the ratio of submissions to placements in jobs in each New Deal unit of delivery.

We are pleased that the Committee acknowledges that the ratio of submissions to jobs has fallen. There are good reasons for this. The ratio seemed very high in the earliest weeks of Pathfinders because of the time lags between placings and submissions. In the first few weeks there was inevitably a high ratio of submissions to placings. Later figures show that the ratio has fallen and is in line with the general ratio for Employment Service work with clients. We will share this information with the Committee and other interested parties.

  

We recommend that the Employment Service collect data on the proportion of Gateway participants not turning up when referred to providers. If this practice is widespread, the DfEE should formulate a strategy for dealing with it.

We agree that the issue of New Deal participants failing to turn up to Gateway provision when referred to it is an important one. That said, our policy in relation to the Gateway is clear and needs to be borne in mind. Gateway participants are JSA claimants who are required to be available for and actively seeking work. In addition, they are expected to attend regular interviews with their New Deal Personal Advisers. If they do not attend an interview with an Adviser and do not within five days establish that they had "good cause" for their failure to do so, their continued entitlement to JSA may be withdrawn by decision of an Adjudication Officer with the result that they would have to make a new claim. Gateway provision is however a different matter from Gateway interviews. It is an important principle of the New Deal Gateway that provision—such as help with job search skills, independent careers advice and guidance, short basic skills courses and so on—should normally be taken up voluntarily by New Deal participants, who will have agreed to do so as a result of their discussions with their advisers. It is only in cases where a young person wilfully and persistently refuses or fails to take up offers of help through Gateway provision that an ES New Deal Adviser will issue one or more directions—known as jobseeker's directions—that a young person should take up particular opportunities. Failure to comply with a jobseeker's direction can result in a benefit sanction.

We agree with the Committee that it would be a serious matter if evidence were to emerge that Gateway participants were failing in significant numbers to turn up to Gateway provision when referred to it. We will continue to monitor the position and have put new systems in place to monitor attendance on the new 2 week mandatory Gateway to Work programme


  

We question whether the numbers recorded as entering unsubsidised employment should all be registered as outcomes from the Gateway. We recommend that the Employment Service publish desegregated figures for entry into unsubsidised employment, distinguishing between those who leave the Gateway before their initial interview and those who find unsubsidised employment after having begun active participation in the Gateway.

While we appreciate the Select Committee's comments it should be noted that the invitation to a New Deal interview can itself act as a prompt to find or declare employment. The net result is that because of the invitation to join New Deal, some young people move into unsubsidised employment, thus contributing to the assumption which underpins the New Deal's design that 40 per cent of New Deal participants will leave the New Deal without taking up an option. We will be looking to produce the figures in the form suggested.

We are looking at variances in the performance of New Deal areas. We are grouping areas into similar labour market types so that we can more easily compare like with like. This information will be available on the departmental website.

We recommend that the Employment Service analyse the relationship between labour market conditions and the ratios of placement in subsidised jobs to placement in unsubsidised jobs in each Pathfinder area.

We agree. As part of our continuing evaluation of New Deal we will be studying the relationship between labour market conditions and the numbers of subsidised and unsubsidised jobs.

The New Deal Evaluation Database continues to provide a useful resource in support of the evaluation of the impact of the New Deal, the production of summary statistics and as a tool to analyse performance. The Evaluation Database has successfully been extended to other areas of New Deal and the Welfare to Work programme.

We welcome the significant improvements which are now being made to the Employment Service's statistical database. We believe that this forms a valuable resource which should help Employment Service staff to form a clearer idea of how they can serve their clients most effectively.

We are grateful for the Committee's favourable comments and agree that this contributes to our knowledge of those leaving Gateway for initially unknown destinations. The Employment Service is using this information to inform the process of helping New Deal participants. In the latest published information (September 1998) there has been a significant reduction in the proportion of Gateway leavers entering Unknown Destinations. This is as a result of further development of the database and in particular improvements in the way that returners to New Deal are identified.

The New Deal Evaluation Database continues to provide an invaluable resource in support of the evaluation of New Deal, the production of summary statistics and as a tool to analyse performance. The Evaluation Database has successfully been extended to other areas of New Deal and the Welfare to Work programme.

The DfEE should state whether the planning assumptions for proportions entering each of the different New Deal options, made at the design stage, have been revised. If this has indeed been the case, we ask the DfEE to state how far this reflected experience in administering the New Deal and how far it was in response to developing economic circumstances.

Our planning assumptions were that, of those young people who started a New Deal option, 45 per cent would start the Employment Option, about 20 per cent the Full-time Education and Training Option, and about 35 per cent either the Voluntary Sector Option or a place in the Environment Task Force. The assumptions have not been revised: it is too early in the life of the New Deal to do so. It is also important to bear in mind what our objectives are in relation to the Options. We want to ensure that as many young people as possible who take up an Option find a place in the Employment Option. At the same time, the New Deal must be tailored to individual needs: it is vital that advisers and others involved with young people in the Gateway ensure as far as possible that the Options individual young people take up are those which are most appropriate in their individual circumstances.

We have not revised the original planning assumptions. We are confident that the New Deal is able to respond flexibly to the needs of individuals, and that an appropriate range of provision is in place.

We recommend that information on numbers of vacancies for subsidised employees and estimates of the demand for such vacancies in each New Deal unit of delivery be published in the regular monthly New Deal statistical Press Releases.

We monitor the numbers of available vacancies at a local level, alongside the numbers expected to take up the subsidised employment option. We will investigate the possibility of producing such information on a systematic basis. If it is possible to produce it at a reasonable cost, we will consider how best to disseminate the information including the option of using the Monthly Press Notice.

Information on New Deal vacancies is only held at local level. Consequently, vacancy information is not published in the Statistical Release (which in any case reports on clients' progress through New Deal rather than on aggregated vacancy statistics). Information on numbers moving into work is included in the Statistical Release on starts to the subsidised Employment option.

We commend the willingness of employers to participate, and we are encouraged by early signs that the project advertising the New Deal has been effective. The increase in the number of employers establishing contact with the Employment Service for the first time is an important and welcome by-product of the New Deal. We recommend that the range of employers offering subsidised and unsubsidised jobs to New Deal participants in each Employment Service District be analysed and the proportion of new employers quantified.

We agree. As part of its operational and marketing planning, each Employment Service District and its local partners should look at the business transacted with employers in terms of New Deal and other vacancies, including the extent of new business and the quality of service these employers receive. We have issued guidance and support materials including a local marketing toolkit to help achieve this.


We were impressed to discover the potential for the New Deal to encourage capacity-building and jobs growth in the small business sector. We recommend that the Employment Service work with Business Links and other business agencies to maximise their effectiveness in promoting the New Deal.

We are pleased that the Committee endorses the New Deal's capacity to encourage jobs growth. We agree with the recommendation and we are already working with Business Links and other agencies to maximise their effectiveness.

  

We urge the Employment Service to establish, with each new employer who signs a contract to take on subsidised employees under the New Deal, whether that employer had intended to recruit anyway or whether the vacancy had been created as a result of the subsidy.

We agree that it is important to try to establish whether new jobs are being created. This will be examined as part of the evaluation strategy, using a sample survey employers. However, we do not think it would be practical to ask the Employment Service to try to establish this in every individual case. We have to keep requests for information, and the accompanying bureaucracy, to a minimum.

We know from our evaluation that New Deal has led to extra jobs being created because New Deal has increased the number, and skills and other qualities, of employable people looking for work. The recently published employer survey (looking at the subsidised option only) found that although some of the jobs already existed, employers would not have considered unemployed people without the incentive of the New Deal subsidy.

The key to the success of the approach to New Deal Employment in the public sector in the Rotherham Pathfinder is a good two-way relationship between Personal Advisers and a key manager in the human resources division of the authority, and we recommend such a dialogue be developed in each Employment Service District where this does not yet exist.

We welcome the key part that Local Authorities are playing as partners in most New Deal Partnerships. Many are providers of Gateway provision and Options. We will work to further strengthen our dialogue with Local Authorities as key local partners in the New Deal. We have been working to strengthen further our dialogue with the Local Government Associations over all aspects of the New Deal's development.

Over 4,000 New Deal opportunities across the options have been offered by Local Authorities and around 30 per cent of Local Authorities have signed employer agreements. The ES Large Organisations Unit has worked successfully with the Local Government Association (LGA) in a range of activities to raise awareness of New Deal, for example a booklet promoting examples of good practice in a number of authorities; the introduction of hyperlinks between the LGA and New Deal websites and more recently discussions on how to take forward a more targeted approach to tackle authorities yet to recruit under New Deal.

It is likely that significant opportunities for New Deal recruits will be available in the NHS through increasing demand for services, new resources and new initiatives such as Health Action Zones. We recommend that attention is therefore given at District level by the Employment Service to each health authority and health trust. Ministers in the Department for Education and Employment should press their colleagues in the Department of Health hard for guidance, encouragement and advice to be issued through the NHS on participation in New Deal programmes. We recommend that the Department for Education and Employment set out the efforts which are being made to ensure that Government departments and agencies are aware of the opportunities offered by the New Deal. The Department should make clear to us what guidance has been issued to public sector organisations, setting out the scope for taking on subsidised New Deal employees while maintaining obligations in respect of equal opportunities for all and recruitment on merit.

We recognise the significant opportunities in the NHS as outlined in this recommendation. All Government Departments and Agencies were invited to a briefing organised by Cabinet Office in early February at which they were given details of New Deal and the role they could play in its successful implementation. The briefing (which was followed up with a briefing pack) included advice on changes in Civil Service rules agreed with the Civil Service Commissioners to help with the recruitment of New Dealers as well as Treasury guidelines on funding issues. A New Deal National Account Manager has been appointed to provide advice and help to Departments and Agencies as they work their way through their internal processes. We are content that following the lead set by the joint Ministerial letter of 11th March 1998, the NHS, DfEE and the ES are working closely together to promote New Deal participation in the NHS at all levels across the country. Indeed Alan Milburn and Andrew Smith had already written to NHS Trusts and this was backed up by circulars to Health Authorities. This has been reinforced at Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) conferences aimed at NHS involvement in New Deal. As a result of this, over 100 NHS Trusts have now signed up to New Deal at a local level and subsidised and unsubsidised job starts have been achieved. More widely, Government Departments and Agencies are encouraged to take part in the New Deal. The Employment Service, Benefits Agency, Inland Revenue, DfEE, Department of Health and MAFF are amongst major civil servant employers who have signed New Deal Employer agreements. DfEE/ ES are continuing to work with the Cabinet Office to monitor progress and take further steps necessary.

ES continues to work closely with Cabinet Office in diverse activities to raise awareness and increase New Deal job starts in the Civil Service. In March this year we jointly delivered a successful one day workshop for over 50 departments and agencies to discuss New Deal recruitment issues. As a direct result of this event, a Development Forum has now been established to improve dissemination of good practice across the Civil Service. ES Large Organisations Unit has worked with 20 key departments to improve the quality of management information available on previously unidentified unsubsidised job starts, as a result recent published figures show nearly 3,000 Civil Service job opportunities have now been filled by New Deal candidates. All NHS Trusts have now signed New Deal agreements and NHS and ES continue to collaborate on a range of policy initiatives to enhance the uptake of New Deal in the NHS.

ES continues to work actively with NHS Trusts to get New Deal clients placed into NHS jobs.


We are disturbed by the apparent lack of attention and guidance from the Employment Service on retention strategies. For those clients who are on the subsidised employment option, it is important that Personal Advisers take steps to safeguard the retention of the subsidised employee. This could include continuing provision of training, such as that arranged for participants in the Eastbourne Pathfinder discussed above. We recommend that young people who have embarked on training as part of the New Deal should be able to continue that training beyond the six month period in which they are on a New Deal option.

We note the Committee's concern in recommendation 15 and we assure them that we take retention of young people in subsidised jobs very seriously. We have stringent quality checks of employers before they take on young people and have a follow through strategy to enable Personal Advisers to be involved in the Gateway, on the option and after the option. In particular personal advisers will remain in touch with young people during their time on the employment option and, particularly towards the end of the six month subsidy period, will seek wherever feasible to ensure that they continue in the employers employment. However, retention is not only the responsibility of the employer, but also of the local partnership. An employer's ability to retain an individual will depend also on the preparation they have had in the Gateway (and whether the employer was involved), on the training they have received, on the quality of the matching service and on the support the employer receives. We hope and expect employers to retain young people after the subsidy —indeed one of the conditions set out in the Employer Agreement is our expectation that the subsidised job is permanent and will last at least six months. We have sent clear messages about the importance of retention and expect local partnerships to be thinking about how they can best find long-term work for their clients Only on exceptional occasions would we consider a vacancy lasting only six months and this would be in cases where the training was of particularly high quality and the individual would clearly enhance their job prospects as a result, and where all parties were clear as to the position in advance.

We are considering ways to improve the attention given to retention in New Deal. We are, for instance, piloting a retention budget for the ES and we are testing incentive payments for retention through our Employment Zones initiative. These experiments, together with new contracting arrangements which will further emphasise retention, should lead to measurable improvements.

We very much welcome signs of an increasing recognition among New Deal participants that acquiring skills is a route into long-term employment and that the New Deal can offer a second chance to gain qualifications. We recommend to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment that he raise the profile of the full-time education and training option of the New Deal. We recommend to the Further Education Funding Council that it examine ways of building on the New Deal to increase participation in lifelong learning.

We agree that increased interest amongst young people in improving their skill levels is a very welcome outcome of the New Deal. However, we must not forget that the ultimate aim of New Deal is to find a secure long term job. For some people the FTET option will be the best option. But the New Deal is about meeting the needs of individuals in securing jobs. This is best done by New Deal Personal Advisers working with young people to help them choose the option that is right for them: all the options include an important skills element. There does not appear to be a need to raise the profile of the FTET option, as more people than expected are already joining.

  

It will be essential, if the New Deal is to operate smoothly, for bureaucracy in the contracting process to be simplified. In particular, 'red tape' must not be allowed to deter small voluntary and community organisations from bringing forward innovative projects tailored to local needs.

We are already reviewing the New Deal contracting process in order to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy. Applying lessons learned from the earlier contracting experience, the contracting process for New Deal for clients aged 25+ has been simplified where appropriate without departing from the need to meet the demands for probity and propriety. Our long term aim is to shift from a traditional purchaser/provider relationship to one based more on a partnership in which risks, resources, and responsibilities are shared in order to secure a common objective. Such a relationship will need to be developed over time and must be done in a way which safeguards public funds. However, solid progress is already being made and we are redrafting the standard contract in order to make it simpler and to spread the risks more equitably between the ES and its providers.

We have recently introduced a streamlined contracting system in the Employment Service based on construction of an open list of Approved Providers. The new procedures eliminate much of the bureaucracy associated with operation of discrete contracting rounds for different programmes while focusing strongly on quality. We believe the new system will be easier for all current and prospective providers but small voluntary and community based organisations will particularly welcome the expected cost savings. As the initial list is completed we will also be able to offer advice to potential providers about where our existing provider network is strong and where there are gaps. We will also be offering feedback to providers who fail to reach the criteria for inclusion on the list; they can then re-apply at any time. Although much of the Employment Service's contracting (and we expect the Learning and Skills Council to adopt similar procedures) to be undertaken in this way there will also be scope for organisations to access, for example, the New Deal Innovation Fund whether they are on the approved list or not.

We recommend that capacity-building funds should continue to be made available to voluntary sector groups.

We agree in principle. We are reviewing the New Deal funding model to ensure that voluntary organisations are not precluded from participating. For example, changes have been made to the payment arrangements to the voluntary sector to introduce guaranteed funding and an imprest system.

  

We agree that partnerships should have flexibility to propose that a provider who is able to offer services not available elsewhere at good value for money should not have to undergo a full competitive tender. We recommend that the Employment Service collate and publish details of local arrangements such as those made in Rotherham, where a derogation from the demands of full competitive tendering has operated.

We accept the Committee's view, which is in fact already reflected in the New Deal Contracting Principles. These set out that the "Employment Service intends to operate within a partnership ethos during the contracting process and maintain the need for probity and propriety in the procurement of services and accounting for public funds". The Employment Service has sought to develop a flexible contracting framework. Contracts will in the main be awarded following full competitive tendering, but there will be occasions when a single tender approach would be fully justifiable.

There remains scope for contracts to be awarded by single tender in some circumstances. However, we believe that it is right to retain a strong presumption in favour of competition in order to ensure we identify the best possible provision for unemployed people and the best overall value for money. The new contracting procedures being rolled out in the Employment Service mean that the bidding process for any individual contract or service will be less onerous for providers to complete.

We strongly recommend that Employment Service District Managers and local New Deal partnerships be invited to submit comments to the review, on behalf of the staff in their Districts and local New Deal partnerships. We recommend that the DfEE publicise the terms of reference for the review and that it supply us with a report of the review's initial findings at the earliest opportunity.

The Chief Executive of the Employment Service has already written to Review steering group members summarising the approach and progress of the Review and outlining plans for the future. The letter was intended to provide a vehicle for the wider communication of the work of the Review, through copying to other interested parties.

  

We accept the Employment Service' s assurance that ethnic minority organisations have been treated fairly during the contracting process. However, we encourage the Employment Service to do as much as it can to develop the capacity of local ethnic minority providers to submit high quality bids in future. We recommend that Ministers consider making available dedicated development or capacity-building funds for local ethnic minority providers, similar to that allocated to the voluntary sector in Pathfinder areas generally until the end of March 1998.

The recent extensive consultation exercise that we have undertaken, identified and highlighted the need for capacity building as an important step to ensure that ethnic minority providers have the opportunity to participate in the delivery of New Deal.

Our specialist consultants did not, however, recommend that this would best be met by the provision of capacity building funds. They suggested that possible ways of increasing capacity might include: setting up a mentoring programme; establishing sub-contracting mechanisms between experienced providers and some of the more inexperienced ethnic minority providers; and encouraging consortia of providers who can offer different specialisms.


The New Deal Innovation Fund can be used for capacity building projects and we have expanded it this year to provide up to £9.5 million over three years. We have given priority to projects that focus on the needs of disadvantaged groups, including ethnic minorities. In addition, the 40 Action Team for Jobs have had £45 million to spend on meeting the needs of disadvantaged and ethnic minority groups and building up local provider capacity. The Action Teams add to existing New Deal provision.

We believe that, as a first step to re-engage young people from ethnic minorities who are distanced from the labour market, an effort must be made to establish its size and to build an accurate picture of the reasons why young black people choose not to join the mainstream in seeking work. We recommend that the Government conduct a large scale survey of the extent of unregistered unemployment among young people, paying particular attention to people from ethnic minorities.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) already captures information on employment status and benefits. The LFS is comprehensive and representative and the fact that it is continuous allows trends in employment to show.

It is unlikely that any other survey will be able to capture more than anecdotal evidence on the most detached groups of people, for example homeless people. Many others choose not to participate in surveys.

Ethnic monitoring of JSA claimants, including New Deal participants, will help identify barriers to equal opportunity and assess outcomes for ethnic minority participants. Early cohort information has already been published and fuller information about how ethnic minority participants are progressing through the New Deal will be available later in the year.

The Social Exclusion Unit's recent report "Bringing Britain together, a national strategy for neighbourhood renewal", also identifies that there might be particular groups of people that might be missed and the greater risk of unemployment faced by people from ethnic minorities groups. It is too soon to say whether vulnerable people are dropping out of the New Deals or not being helped as much as they could be ,or that there are people who could benefit but are not claiming JSA. The DfEE agrees with SEU on the need to investigate this further and will be chairing a Policy Action Team to consider the extent of the problem. The Task Force have also been taking a keen interest in this issue, and set up a small working group to examine further what might be done to help the most disadvantaged young people benefit from the New Deal. This working group has now produced its report for the Task Force, and this should feed into the work of the DfEE's Policy Action Team.

Fuller statistical information on the progress of the ethic minority participants in the New Deal and beyond, combined with information from the LFS and the work of the Policy Action Team above should help meet the Committee's concerns.


As part of the New Deal evaluation programme, the quantitative survey is looking at the experience of people from ethnic minorities on New Deal. The first stage picked up 900 people in this group. Second stage analysis will look at outcomes, and employability. In the qualitative research, ethnic minority participants were purposely selected. Results will be published later this year in an overarching report.

In addition, monthly statistics published in the Statistical First Release compare the progress and job outcomes of ethnic minority groups with other New Deal clients.


We commend the Employment Service in Sheffield for making such efforts to bridge the gap between local ethnic communities and the New Deal, We recommend that the Employment Service collate and publish details of innovative steps such as these taken by local District Offices or partnerships.

The Committee's recognition of the importance of sharing innovative practice is welcome. We have already set in place a number of activities that will help with such dissemination. These include the planned publication and wide distribution of the report that followed the recent consultation exercise. The report documents a wide range of good and innovative practice, and presents a number of case studies specific to New Deal and ethnic minority communities.

  

We welcome the DfEE's strategy for engaging ethnic minorities in the New Deal as a thorough attempt to address a difficult issue. Ultimately, however, we believe that close working relationships must be established—where they do not already exist—between those responsible for leading the New Deal in each area and those who command respect within local ethnic minority communities. The Employment Service will need to either demonstrate its confidence in the existing capacity of the ethnic minority or take steps to help to develop that capacity.

We agree wholeheartedly with the need to demonstrate confidence in the capacity of local ethnic minority communities. To increase our understanding and knowledge of that capacity we are developing a 'mapping' tool that we will pilot in the Autumn. This tool will help New Deal partnerships to establish the extent of, and tap into, the expertise that already exists in the ethnic minority communities. In addition, part of the New Deal Marketing Strategy is to ensure ethnic minority people and businesses are equally aware of New Deal. Two marketing agencies, one specialising in reaching Asian groups and another for Afro-Caribbean's have been contracted to offer advice and organise events.

  

We would also add that the New Deal will be measured by its success in building employability and increasing people's chances of finding long term jobs. People from ethnic minorities will not engage with the New Deal if they are not confident that it will offer real opportunities.

We accept and agree with this recommendation and are taking the necessary action, through a number of initiatives, to bring this about. We will be publishing the New Deal Ethnic Minority strategy by the end of October. This sets out an agenda for action at national, regional and partnership level. This will include emphasis on the importance of local partnerships in ensuring that the programme is sensitive to the needs of all potential participants in an area; full equality of opportunity at local level; a mapping exercise of ethnic minority organisations involved in New Deal partnership and continuous reviews of representation of ethnic minorities. The agenda has been informed by the work of an Ethnic Minority Advisory Group, chaired by Tetteh Kofi (Managing Editor of the Ethnic Media Group), which most recently met Ministers to discuss the Ethnic Minority statistics published for the first time in the September New Deal press notice.

The Employment Service (ES) has developed a strategy for engaging ethnic minority jobseekers and businesses in New Deal (ND). The strategy was produced following extensive consultation involving all ND Partnerships and includes a public action plan highlighting action to be taken at all levels within the ES. Progress against the action plan contained within the strategy is reviewed every 6 months.

To help ND Units of Delivery (UoD) make progress against the public action plan, the ES together with external organisations has developed a product 'Closing the Gap—A Self Assessment Pack for New Deal Partnerships' which will help Partnerships identify the extent and quality of EM involvement in New Deal. The ES are currently working with Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) within a number of UoDs to evaluate the usefulness of the pack.

There is evidence from the six-monthly reviews that the ES is increasingly working in partnership with community organisations and those representing ethnic minority groups to develop outreach initiatives that will draw into New Deal, those jobless people who are currently outside of the system. There are already good examples of out posting of ES staff and where the ES have worked in partnership with organisations such as Race Equality Council (REC) and Local Authorities to co-fund the use of outreach workers. There is increasing use being made of funding streams such as ESF and SRB to support this work. There is evidence some UoDs are achieving a degree of success in reaching people within ethnic minority communities, for example by taking information about jobs and training into local communities, local interest groups, faith and church groups. All share the purpose of engaging local ethnic minorities in a way that makes sense of local circumstances. The key point is to raise awareness of the ES services, and in some cases bringing the services into the community rather than making people go to the services.

To support this work we are establishing an Equality Champion in every ES region to lead on work to promote equality programmes locally. To ensure ES staff deal robustly with potential and actual employer discrimination the ES have worked with an external partner to develop a training product 'Tackling Diversity and Valuing Cultural Differences' to address issues of stereotyping prejudice and discrimination and to promote the business case for diversity. The product is soon to be rolled out to all ES staff nationally however training has been delivered in some areas of the South West. There is evidence from the 6 monthly reviews of the ethnic minority strategy that some UoDs are working closely with local RECs and others to deliver locally defined cultural awareness training to ES advisers. In addition BTEG are undertaking diagnostic work within one UoD specifically focusing on employer discrimination and the ES's capacity to deal with it.

Targets have been set for all UoD partnerships delivering ND to achieve parity of outcomes on jobs between white and ethnic minority young people by end of this Parliament and some areas of the country are already achieving this. The Minority Ethnic Advisory Group (MEAG) have visited a number of different partnerships to help gain a better understanding of the factors that are causing variations in local performance with regard to ethnic minority groups and will soon be carrying out a similar exercise in another six UoDs.

In addition to the above the new Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 has meant that the ES has been working closely with the DfEE, BA and the Home Office to ensure that the ES field are kept fully up to date with how the new arrangements are progressing. This keeps the ES field informed and ensures that all relevant guidance is updated as appropriate.


 
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