The sector-based work academies scheme, which is in operation throughout the country, is credited with helping hundreds of people back into the workplace.
Introduced in 2011 to reduce unemployment figures, the academies are designed to equip people with the specific skills they need to find a job in a particular sector, as well as providing them with important and relevant work experience.
The academies consist of up to six weeks of targeted training, during which those taking part also undertake a certain amount of work experience in the relevant industry. Depending on the sector, there may be qualifications to aim for as well.
The academies also include a guaranteed job interview at the end of the period. Participants continue to receive their normal benefits while on the scheme, and a job is not guaranteed. Starting the scheme is voluntary, but those taking part can face benefits sanctions if they leave part way through.
To qualify for a place on the scheme, unemployed people must be over 18 and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. You can also take part if you’re claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and you’re in the work-related activity group.
Sectors taking part in the project include hospitality and catering, retail, textiles and transport. The industries involved vary from region to region, and can be provided by a range of different organisations, including colleges and training providers, as well as local employers.
Reaction to the scheme has been mixed, but it has been hailed as a success in some areas. Staff in the Jobcentre Plus in Huddersfield, for instance, have run 10 sector-based work academies since April last year. Through the scheme, they have helped a total of 188 unemployed people either gain new skills or land new jobs.
The scheme is just part of a national initiative called Get Britain Working, aimed at reducing the number of people receiving unemployment benefits.
Certainly there are less people claiming unemployment benefits – the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show UK unemployment falling, although the number of people actually in work is also falling.
The number of jobless in the country fell to 1.6 million in the last quarter of 2016, down 52,000 on the previous quarter. The number of people in work was reduced by 9,000 in the same period.
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