Unemployed people will be able to access thousands of new volunteering and training opportunities to help them take their first steps back into work – under new plans unveiled this week by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith.
Under the scheme advisers from youth charity The Prince’s Trust and other local government voluntary organisations will be located in Jobcentre Plus (JCP) offices to signpost jobseekers of all ages to volunteering and training opportunities in their area. The new initiative will particularly benefit young people as they will be able to get more support to help them into jobs, education and training.
Ministers are keen to strengthen partnerships with the voluntary sector as it is uniquely placed to help disadvantaged groups and communities. They believe that increasing the support for this sector will be crucial to get Britain working again.
Iain Duncan Smith said:
“I am delighted that this partnership with The Prince’s Trust and local voluntary sector organisations across the country will mean thousands of volunteering opportunities for jobseekers – for some it will be a chance to get some valuable experience and gain skills after years without work.
“I have long been a vocal advocate of empowering grass roots organisations, as I believe they have the dedication, experience and specialist knowledge to get Britain working again.”
A Memorandum of Understanding to formalise the partnership between Jobcentre Plus and The Prince’s Trust is signed today by Darra Singh, Jobcentre Plus’s Chief Executive and Martina Milburn, the Chief Executive of The Trust.
Youth charity The Prince’s Trust helps more than 40,000 disadvantaged young people every year, giving them the confidence and skills to get a job. More than three in four young people helped by The Prince’s Trust move into work, training or education.
Martina Milburn, Chief Executive of youth charity The Prince’s Trust, said:
“With youth unemployment at a record high, it is now more important than ever to help young people into jobs. This partnership will help us reach thousands more disadvantaged young people, giving them the skills and confidence to break out of long-term unemployment and poverty. Transforming these young lives will have a huge impact on their families, communities as well as on Britain’s economy.”
Julia Dennis, Citizens Advice Volunteer Development Manager, said:
“Volunteering is hugely important to the Citizens Advice service – we have over 21,000 volunteers in bureaux throughout England and Wales providing vital services to our clients.
“We welcome any initiative which supports best practice in volunteer recruitment and are pleased to support Jobcentre Plus’s new scheme which will introduce many more people to the benefits of volunteering.”
John Ellis, Barnardo’s Deputy Director for Volunteering (UK), said:
“We would be keen to welcome these volunteers to our shops and feel it’s a win-win for both parties. They will be supporting us in raising vital funds for vulnerable children and we will be giving them valuable work experience, hopefully leading to future employment.”
Mike Locke, Director of Public Affairs, Volunteering England, said:
“Volunteering England welcomes the renewal of this agreement between Jobcentre Plus and The Prince’s Trust, and I am delighted to be present here today.
“Volunteering has a central role in supporting people seeking to find a new job, in enhancing and evidencing their work-related skills and, often, in helping develop new interests in their career.
“Volunteering England has supported the building of the key relationships at local level between Jobcentre Plus and the local Volunteer Centre. The renewal of this agreement between JCP and The Prince’s Trust promises to strengthen relationships among volunteering organisations and that will be good for local communities and for JCP customers.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), said:
“This is a good example of the public and voluntary sectors working together to support the vital work of voluntary and community organisations. With space being at such a premium in the current climate, we hope that as many organisations as possible will be able to take advantage of this new opportunity.”
Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Chief Executive Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), said:
“We really welcome this opportunity for the sector and Jobcentre Plus to work closer together and gain a better understanding of each other. However, this needs to be more than just about volunteering – the third sector delivers fantastic services with proven success at getting the hardest to reach clients back into employment. These agreements must recognise this and we would encourage Jobcentre Plus to actively make the space and for organisations to seize this opportunity in order to make it a real success at a time when it is most needed.”
Susanne Rauprich, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS), said:
“NCVYS’s network of over 180 members consistently provide valuable and life changing opportunities for young people across England. With youth unemployment at its highest for a generation, all organisations involved need to work together to provide effective skills training so that young people can get ahead in this incredibly competitive jobs market. We know from experience that it’s crucial for young people to be signposted to the right opportunity at the right time and are pleased to support Jobcentre Plus in this initiative.”
Prince’s Trust advisers and local volunteering centres will start to appear in Jobcentres in the next few weeks, with a national roll out from April where possible.
For people who have claimed benefits for many years volunteering and training courses offer the ideal opportunity to make the first move into the workplace and a good way to build confidence and gain new skills. There are currently almost five million people on out of work benefits, many of whom with the right help and support could start a journey back into employment.