Headlines: February 22nd, 2008

Agencies providing job services, childcare, health and financial advice, the voluntary sector and colleges and universities, are joining up to help people get work and get on at work. This new initiative from the Department for Universities Innovation and Skills will be piloted in London and become fully operational across England by 2010/11.

The first pilot serviceswill be opened this year in the London Boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth and Wandsworth. The project will build on the existing careers services to provide a range of joined up advice, guidance and support, ensuring no-one is deprived of the opportunity to realise their potential. Currently people can access a free information and advice service comprising the national learn direct telephone and online advice service and local next step face-to-face service.

The second pilot will be developed in partnership with the Mayor, and will focus specifically on the challenges facing people who already have a job but want to develop further skills, take more responsibility and earn higher wages. Getting from a job with few prospects to a good job is seen as tough as getting off benefit andi nto work. The project recognises that people who want to get on need support to improve their skills and, often, sort out childcare, tax credit, housing and other issues. The new joined-up approach to providing advice and support is seen as crucial to overcoming these barriers.

A key element of the new service will be a ‘no wrong door’ approach developed jointly with colleges, the voluntary sector, childcare, health and financial advice services. The agencies will work to high common standards of customer service, offering referrals to more expert advice where necessary.

Skills advice will be available for everyone, from those in good jobs wanting to improve, to those who need new skills to access job opportunities. The new service will identify skill needs through Skills Health Checks and provide better face to face online and telephone support to enable people to access advice when and where they need it.