This sector, which covers multiple departments, agencies and other public bodies in their roles of providing the right skills and training opportunities for the modern workforce, is central to cross-party ambitions of optimum employment from a highly skilled population able to compete in a world market.
The NAO audits the financial statements of the government bodies involved, including Jobcentre Plus and the Learning Skills Council, as well as non-departmental public bodies and other public/commercial sector ventures.
We also undertake a range of VfM examinations across the sector, focusing on the effectiveness of bodies and programmes in delivering a competitive workforce.
The jobcentre network has coped well in the economic downturn, but must improve performance measures if it is to support claimants effectively.
Sector(s): Employment, jobs and careers
Reported fraud in Employment Programmes is low despite past flaws such as in the New Deal. New improvement controls are better, yet risks remain.
“Train to Gain is achieving growth in training that employers value, but taxpayers have a right to expect that much more than half of the public funding should result in training that would not otherwise have occurred. Inconsistent management contributed to a slow start to the programme, followed by rapid growth and now the risk of demand exceeding budgets. We also need to see evidence that money is directed more to areas of greatest need, with training providers who do the best job for their learners and on bringing the whole range of business benefits to employers.”
“Greater awareness of the numbers of people with autism, as well as better understanding of autism amongst those providing health, social care, benefits, education and employment services, would lead to improved quality of life for those on the autistic spectrum. Specialist support and joint working across all areas – clinical, social and employment – could improve the transition from childhood to adult services, make services more effective and improve value for money.”
“The Department has made a determined effort to reduce reliance on burdensome long letters and piles of leaflets and has improved the efficiency of its communications with customers. It could, however, improve performance further by moving more of its services online. Where paper forms and letters are still necessary, it should make them more straightforward for the customer, particularly for the elderly and other vulnerable people.”
“Whilst there is general satisfaction with the services customers receive from the Department and its Agencies, there is scope to handle complaints better. The three Agencies need to record accurately customer complaints so that they can identify where they are not meeting customer needs and can improve services accordingly. Agencies also need to do more to understand why some customers are dissatisfied with the handling of their complaints.”
“My report recognises the considerable achievement that has been made delivering over 800 centres to a high quality standard, under budget. The project team controlled costs effectively and achieved savings against the budget – for example by introducing better procurement arrangements. There are lessons here for other Government departments undertaking major procurement projects.”
“Some progress has been made in tackling unemployment rates within ethnic minority groups, but the reality is that over recent years, while there has been a slow but steady improvement, the overall reduction in the employment gap has been modest.
“The Department for Work and Pension’s strategy has been fragmented but is being refocused on those living in deprived areas. While this provides opportunities to help those most disadvantaged, it carries the risk that some ethnic minorities may not receive the help they need to get a job. Unless the Department is prepared to do more to reach out to the ethnic minority communities, prospects for increasing their employment rate remain bleak”
“Many initiatives led by the Department for Work and Pensions have increased the number of people entering work and, as such, have made a difference. However, for some people, help in finding work is only part of the solution, they also need support during the transition as they start a new job, and help to increase their skills so they can stay in work and move up the ladder.
“The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills need to work together, and to join up national initiatives with local action so that people are not just helped into work, but to stay in work.”