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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for how long an individual must claim unemployment benefits before becoming eligible to go on a training course offered by Jobcentre Plus.
The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking how long an individual must claim unemployment benefits before they are eligible to go on a training course offered by Jobcentre Plus. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Most people who claim Jobseeker's Allowance find work very quickly and only need general information, advice and guidance on how best to look for work. However, for those who need additional help, training courses are available at different stages, depending upon the needs of the individual:
People with an obvious literacy, numeracy or language need are identified at the new claims stage and encouraged to take immediate steps to address those needs through the Learning and Skills Council's Employment Skills Programme or other provision available locally.
People who need additional help with jobsearch skills, confidence and motivation and 'soft' skills associated with the world of work can access help through Programme Centres after 26 weeks unemployment, although earlier access is available where such help is clearly needed to have a realistic chance of finding work.
At 26 weeks, a fast-track assessment tool is used to screen people for any basic skills need not previously identified, and where appropriate, people are referred for help through the Employment and Skills Programme.
Full-time education and training is available through the New Deal, participation in which is mandatory for young people after six months unemployment; and for people aged 25 and over when they have been unemployed for 18 out of the previous 21 months. That said, immediate/early access is available where it is clear the customer is particularly disadvantaged in the labour market and the prospect of finding work is much less likely without additional help.
Pre-employment training may also be available through Local Employment Partnerships through which participating employers have committed to provide more job opportunities for people who are finding it particularly difficult to find work, such as longer-term unemployed people or people living in areas of high unemployment. In return, Jobcentre Plus and other partners, for example the Learning and Skills Council prepare people for work through a range of measures, which may include pre-employment training to prepare people for the sort of jobs available locally. Once in work, ongoing development of skills is encouraged through skills advice and support, e.g. through Train to Gain.
Building upon the success of New Deal and Local Employment Partnerships, there are plans to develop and implement an integrated employment and skills service as announced in "Ready for work: full employment in our generation" and "Ready to Work, Skilled for Work: Unlocking Britain's Talent". A key part of this will be better and earlier screening to identify jobseekers with a skills need that is a major barrier to employment and referring them to a full skills heath-check and then appropriate remedial provision.