Against a backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and concerns around subsequent high levels of unemployment, the Government decided to expand the Work and Health Programme (WHP) to provide additional voluntary support for those on benefits who has been unemployed for more than three months. This was named the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme.
The JETS programme was designed to provide six months of early light-touch personalised employability support to help people return to employment. It launched in October 2020, initially with recruitment until September 2021, which was then extended to September 2022. The four contract package areas (CPAs) and providers across London are the same as for WHP: Central London Forward (CLF), Local London (LL), South London Partnership (SLP) and West London Alliance (WLA).
The report draws on monitoring data from the CPAs and fieldwork with sub-regional leads, providers, JCP staff, participants and wider stakeholders undertaken between June and August 2022.
- The programme was set up at pace during the Covid-19 pandemic and was the first welfare to work programme designed and implemented online. It also brought new staff into the sector.
- All sub-regions received high numbers of referrals and outperformed against profile. This good performance reflects strong relationships. With referrals above expectations in the early months, there was a challenge of managing the process and converting those referrals into starts.
- The conversion rate of referrals to starts generally improved over time. Providers found that increasing the intensity of the initial contact between the provider and potential participant led to a higher conversion rate.
- Participants joining near the start of the programme had higher skill levels and were more job ready, only requiring some light-touch, employability support. Linked to this, outcomes appear highest for those who joined the programme early on.
- Provider staff felt that the programme added value by being able to dedicate more time to working with participants than was offered by JCP staff. In this time they could support job search, which was important for many participants who had not looked for work for some time or were looking to change sector. • All providers had been exceeding the DWP-set outcomes target by some distance, month-by-month, with performance often between 150-200% of this target.
- Two of the London regions (SLP and WLA) are ahead of the average performance in DWP areas for converting starts to earnings outcomes, and CLF is equal to the average. This is a positive reflection on delivery, especially as labour market recovery from COVID-19 was slower in London than other areas.