Jamie offers his thoughts about the ALLIANCE manifesto and the future of employability in Scotland.
The UK Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee report (March, 2015) into the DWP’s regime of benefits sanctions found people who have disabilities and long-term conditions are inappropriately identified, expected to conform with unreasonable job-seeking conditions and poorly supported to find employment. This year that could change.
As we approach the UK General Election, the ALLIANCE’s election manifesto makes clear that more personalised support is required in the future. With further devolution after the Smith Agreement, comes an opportunity for Scotland to create an employability programme that works for everyone. One aligned with education, skills, health and social care. A programme that supports people to move into work rather than punishing them for not finding a job.
It will take time to design and establish a new programme, and it is crucial that this coming year is used to do just that.
Here is the chance for the Scottish Government to consult widely, listening to the experiences of service users and employability providers within the ALLIANCE membership. A chance to establish the principles of effective specialist employment provision, financial models that allow for its delivery across Scotland and referral mechanisms that give people access to the right support.
There will be challenges. Currently, there is no clarity as to how the reserved UK elements of employment will work alongside a new Scottish system. These reserved elements include benefits assessment, the JCP network and Access to Work – all critical elements to ensuring jobseekers who have disabilities and long-term conditions can access support, find work and stay in work.
It is essential then that the Scottish Government and DWP reach agreements that best serve Scottish jobseekers, and particular consideration is given to jobseekers who have a disability or long-term condition.
There is a wealth of specialist knowledge and employability experience amongst the ALLIANCE’s membership. This year will be an opportunity to share that knowledge with the Scottish Government and design something that works better for the people we support.
For more on employability, the ALLIANCE’s My Skills, My Strengths, My Work campaign is designed to assist employers to be more informed about long term health conditions and reasonable adjustment as well as encouraging an approachable partnership between employee and employer. The site directs employers to practical advice which is provided by key employment stakeholders and by third sector organisations as well as sharing lived experiences of how the benefits of work and health can be achieved by a supportive partnership in the workplace.