Charities' jobs scheme found to be 'valuable'

3rd August 2012 at 01:00
But report gives health warning over plans to shift focus to 16-19 age group

A job-creation scheme for young unemployed people, funded by the Scottish government and run by the voluntary sector, achieved a satisfaction rating from employers and employees of 76 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.

An evaluation by a team at the University of Glasgow's Training and Employment Research Unit (TERU) described Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) as "a valuable programme" that achieved its twin aims of providing important employment opportunities while enabling third-sector organisations to enhance their services.

But although CJS gave 1,861 young people six months' employment plus additional training, the report by TERU also identified weaknesses:

- up to 139 people were not able to access CJS jobs because of delays to the programme's start;

- there was no clear responsibility for helping CJS employees into employment beyond the duration of their contract and no specific job brokerage role;

- delays to the start of the training and employability support contract, delivered by the Wise Group or its partners, led to a number of employees not receiving their full training entitlement.

CJS was managed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation (SCVO) and Social Enterprise Scotland and involved 448 employers in areas ranging from environmental and recycling, finance and administration, community work, retail and voluntary sector development.

Under the 2011-12 CJS programme, 10 per cent of jobs were targeted at 16- to 17-year-olds; 80 per cent at 18- to 24-year-olds who have been unemployed for six months; and 10 per cent at 25-year-olds who have been unemployed for six months and live in areas of high unemployment.

But in the next stage of the programme, the emphasis will be on delivering 1,000 jobs for 16- to 19-year-olds - a significant increase on the 488 places for this age group in the first phase.

The report's authors - Alexander McTier, David Clelland and Alan McGregor - suggest that alternative recruitment methods could be used more widely to help employers identify the best candidates. In the first phase, CJS jobs were not visible to Jobcentre Plus customers, requiring Jobcentre advisers to be aware of them; and CJS jobs were not advertised directly on Skills Development Scotland's website - only on SCVO's "goodmoves" website.

The report also warns that 16- to 17-year-olds may not be as work-ready as older candidates and that the cost and availability of public transport to the workplace may be more of an issue for them.

elizabeth.buie@tess.co.uk

FACTS AND FIGURES

At the time of the evaluation of the 2011-12 programme, 998 CJS employees had yet to complete their contract. But of the 845 who had either finished or left early, 40 per cent entered employment; 4 per cent went into further education or training; 7 per cent engaged in volunteering; 43 per cent became unemployed; and the destinations of 6 per cent were unknown.

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