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We need the Future Jobs Fund back

I attended a meeting recently with a number of organisations involved in the Work Programme – from big voluntary and community sector providers to a couple of primes and a couple of local social enterprises too.  There was a strong feeling on all sides that there was a long way to go but initial signs are not good, especially as there are so few jobs in many parts of the country.

In the first five minutes two issues were raised that conflict with the government’s current approach: firstly, that in a meeting with the CBI, one colleague was told that ‘the government is failing to understand there are regional differences’, and secondly, we could do with something akin to the Future Jobs Fund.

Now, neither message is popular with government. You will probably find memos in Whitehall threatening disciplinary action if someone should mutter the word ‘region’ or ‘the Future Jobs Fund’, and colleagues started to discuss how we present these messages in current government language. I think I am going to part with my colleagues on this – I think we need to give a direct message – ‘we need the Future Jobs Fund again’.

Now we know it wasn’t perfect before, but government and civil servants worked at a pace unheard of to get it up and running, and we have plenty of evaluations to show the learning that can improve it, so there is no excuse for not being able to dust it down, re-launch it and give young people hope and opportunity.  Our young people need jobs, not an expensive two week residential programme like the National Citizens Service.

The FJF did not just create jobs and opportunities, it helped many charities and social enterprises grow and develop their offer and it created huge additional social value in our communities.  I have recently spoken to the people behind the award winning Exsel CIC and Merseystride who both talked passionately about the impact that FJF has had on the development of their organisations.  I have also spoken to some of the people who have gone on to permanent employment and find it incredible that we have pulled the scheme just when we need it most.

In some research I have sight of, 70% of 105 third sector organisations questioned said that the benefits of taking part in FJF outweighed the costs and 91% would have taken on more workers if the scheme had continued and the same amount again think the government should reintroduce it.  Furthermore, a quick read of the exec summary of this independent evaluation and you can clearly see there were benefits for the long term unemployed, for the local voluntary and community sector and for our communities.

Irrespective of how unpopular the message may be with the current government, if something is the right thing to do, it is the right thing to do – so come on, let’s push for it, let’s get some momentum and let’s push for the return of the FJF now – sign this petition, write to your MP, write to the prime minister – ask them to listen to the evidence, value our young people and invest in something that makes a difference for our communities.

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Pratyesh Desai
Pratyesh Desai
12 years ago

I completely agree with this. FJF was a great scheme that gave people inroads into jobs they otherwise wouldn’t get.

I myself started off as a FJF worker in Catalyst Housing, as a communications assistant and was given a permanent position after my placement.

This allowed me to get my foot in the door. After graduating last year, I spent months looking for a job and every one was asking for experience. Then this turned up and has given me the perfect chance to develop, learn and gain experience that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Scrapping it while unemployment among graduates and young people is growing was silly.

I understand why they are making cuts, but with the cuts there are less jobs. Even though there is a promise that jobs will be created (which I’m not doubting), it will take years for those jobs to be created. What will people do in between that time. It’s not an overnight thing. 200K jobs cut, another 200K are not going to appear overnight. This leaves graduates in a state of limbo. Do they just wait 2-3 years without a job until they are created? or take a job that is completely unrelated to the degree they have just spent thousands of pounds on?

FJF was a way in. It allowed companies a chance to hire young people without taking a risk. It gives people who don’t have the experience to gain some.

Cutting the scheme wasn’t the way forward, even a restructure of the service, offering it on 3 month contracts rather than the 6 months! It helps the businesses and it helps young people getting something relevant onto their CVs.

The Tories are thinking of the future generation, but what about today’s generation? I don’t want this generation to suffer so that the next one can have a better one. Your going to get a generation of over qualified bar staff!

Rant over!

Tracy Fishwick
Tracy Fishwick
12 years ago

Thanks Richard for referencing our national evaluation on FJF. We spoke to 7 areas across the UK and received 750 replies to our on-line survey of people who had been employed via FJF. Without exception, people told us the best thing about FJF was it gave people a real job with a wage, and that this in turn gave them an opportunity to connect with the labour market, sometimes for the first time. They were more confident and other aspects of their lives improved, to the extent that some people credit FJF with stopping them going back to prison, or helping them stop harmful drug dependency. So, whilst the cost was indeed higher than other programmes, it has to be seen in a wider context. Our evidence points to a much lower cost per job outcome than the government suggests, partly due to benefits savings. We also found FJF was better than similar programmes in terms of creating sustained employment – i.e the rate at which people were kept on was good. We should all be concerned about the continuing rise in youth unemployment. Only 12% of apprenticeships are taken up by unemployed young people. How are young people who are already out of work and do not have the required educational attainment levels to get an apprenticeship place, going to find work? FJF worked for them. I believe that a specific response for these young people is desperately needed. If FJF was to be ‘brought back’ our evidence tells us it could be done with less money. I am keen to support anyone who is interested in looking at options to do this. Please get in touch with me.

Sharon Kelly
Sharon Kelly
12 years ago

Richard I agree with the majority of your comments. As someone who delivered FJF, worked with actual participants, and organisations, and still hearing such positive comments from a number of ex-FJFers’, I truly believe with the appropriate little tweaks – no major overhaul is really needed, FJF could be even better 2nd time around.
We can all keep talking about how FJF was brilliant, and refreshing, however we need to start coming up with alternatives / options to put forward to the Government – they seem to be able to find pots of funding for bin collections (not sure how that is going to improve the economy!), so there must be some possible funds which could be tapped into. Probably not as much as previously, as I genuinely believe the financial cost of FJF could have been more effective by drawing in more private sector businesses to trial paricipants and then pay for them earlier, i.e. 4 months not six months – you know when someone is valuable in a much shorter time – even a young person!
I’ve signed the petition and posted it on all my social sites and more too, well done Liam.

diane
diane
12 years ago
Paul Brown
Paul Brown
12 years ago

Great article Richard. Thanks for highlighting the work of MerseySTRIDE.

The Future Jobs Fund (FJF) was the most successful job creation scheme ever set up by any UK government. It helped to change the lives and future for tens of thousands of people and hundreds of deprived communities and supported the creation and development of many social enterprises like MerseySTRIDE, which David Cameron himself described as “an amazing, inspirational social enterprise, that should be replicated throughout the country”. At MerseySTRIDE we used the FJF to create 100 jobs (most moved on to further jobs and/or education/training), we also helped 20 of them to start up their own business/enterprise.

We worked exclusively with people who were long term unemployed (especially targetting homelessness) from some of the UK’s most deprived Wards (some hadn’t worked for more than 10 years, some had never worked). For us the FJF helped people escape from a life of homesslessness, addictions and offending behaviour into a life of employment with hope, purpose and aspirations. It also helped us to save millions of pounds for many Government Departments budgets (not just the Department for Works and Pensions) such as Ministry of Justice; Housing and Homelessness; Dept. of Health – Addictions and Mental Health. So, we were extremely shocked and disappointed when the government decided to scrap the FJF. Sure we could have improved the it, but the Welfare to Work Programme does not adequately replace the FJF. It doesn’t even go anywhere near replacing it.

Please sign the petition to re-introduce the Future Jobs Fund (FJF) Programme.

Paul Cardin
Paul Cardin
12 years ago

The fjf also gave hope to those of any age living in unemployment blackspots. I was 51 when I did my six months fjf. I picked up skills, saved a few bob and I’m now running my own business.

I worked under Fusion21 in Liverpool and saw many others who were taken on at the end.

Scrapping it was a mean thing to do and appeared to be done from a mixture of ignorance, spite and a complete lack of empathy with those struggling to make something of themselves or properly provide for their families.

Petition SIGNED

allan waddicar
allan waddicar
12 years ago

I worked on fjf an if it weren’t for that i would ov properly resorted to crime fjf needs to be brought back in to play because it really duz work an affectively i gained a full time job with a great social enterprise and this was because ov the fjf programme shows it works y take something that works so good and scrap it an leave the failing things still open duz not make sense to me

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