Saturday, 14 May 2011

Future Jobs Fund: myths and realities

Iain Duncan Smith calls the fund a failure. He is wrong – had it continued a lot more young people would have been in employment

Gavin Ramsay
Success story: Gavin Ramsay got palced by Social Enterprise London, with the help of Future Jobs Fund.
Ian Duncan Smith told the Today programme how the Future Jobs Fund had underperformed by creating jobs in the public sector that didn't last. Nothing could have been further from the truth in social enterprise.

Take for example the Social Enterprise London (SEL) programme where we found over 500 young people jobs in social enterprises, of which a staggering 65% remained in work or returned to full time education. Pretty impressive in the teeth of a recession.
While I cannot comment on how Future Jobs Fund performed in the public sector I can say something about the way social enterprise rose to the challenge. It performed well in two key ways. First, social entrepreneurs were great at offering jobs, in fact we are still getting offers because there are people who want to encourage the next generation of social entrepreneurs. Second, social enterprise is popular with young people so we had no problem recruiting those who were looking for jobs and willing to work hard.
Gavin Ramsey 24, from Haringey, after a sustained period of unemployment, spent six months on the programme working for Four Corners Film, an arts and media social enterprise based in Tower Hamlets. He accessed the Future Jobs Fund through SEL.
"My time here at Four Corners has boosted my confidence, improved my administration and office skills and reintroduced me to the workplace with reinvigorated ambition. I'm privileged to be working for such a unique organisation and sincerely hope the Future Jobs Fund initiative continues to provide opportunities for people in my position," he said.
We get daily calls from people looking for and offering jobs. We are passionate about connecting the growing number of unemployed young people with the working world of social enterprise. We estimate we could have got over 2000 young people into jobs had the Future Jobs Fund continued.
If you're thinking why we can't just hook up the jobs to the applicants, it is a little harder than that. Employers want to be protected against inappropriate candidates, and young people who often suffer from severe lack of confidence don't respond well to the wrong placement. In this scenario having contact with the community of employers and offering the right brokerage services is key to success.
Ian Duncan Smith mentioned the welfare to work programme and apprentice scheme. We have looked at both. A small organisation like SEL can do little more than subcontract under the welfare to work programme and somehow scale seems to be a predominant feature which is not working in our favour where ever we go these days.
I do hope we can help young people to get access to social enterprise jobs. Without new blood we will lose our momentum, social enterprise is a young idea with the energy and creativity that is fed by young optimism and drive. As a mother, I cannot bare the thought of young people stuck at home willing and able to work but denied the opportunity to do so. It just seems mad.
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  1. Spot on Allison. You are right. It was a disgrace to traduce the Fund in that way. We must demand a retraction from IDS. Those of our members who took part are livid.

  2. Thanks for that Stephen, I thought you might like to know that Gavin Ramsey mentioned in the article is still working at Four Corners, we called to see on Friday. He is a success story for Future Jobs Fund like so many others. None of our 500 were placed in the public sector and most are still working. IDS also said in his interview that FJF was 4 times more expensive than the work programme. Lets see how that performs but without the support to small business employers FJF had and with the poor track record of big business in picking up young people with patchy or no employment history I am not optimistic. FJF was a back to work scheme for our times, it targeted the needs of the terrifyingly large group of unemployed young people and gave some assistance to small business owners who are getting it from all sides with inflation, oil prices etc. The work programme is designed to ensure that Government does not pay for what it does not get and so transfers the risk to big business in the form of the large back to work providers. We shall see what young people get from it, and as for social enterprise, well, at this stage we can only hope for crumbs.