Category: Learning from others

Getting Universal Jobmatch stats

Have you tried to use Universal Jobmatch to access data on job vacancies? If so, you may have been shocked and dismayed by what you found.UJ logo2

Universal Jobmatch (UJ) is intended to be a “new best of breed online service” for jobseekers and employers, intended to transform DWP’s labour market services, automatically matching jobseekers to jobs based on their skills and CV. It is run by Monster, on a £15m contract over four years. It is a potentially very valuable source of data, and the contract specification included requirements for LMI summary tools. UJ data replaced those from the Jobcentre Plus notification system which ceased in November 2012, and was expected by the Department of Work and Pensions to provide a more comprehensive picture and offer improvements in how the data can be accessed and used. Possible UJ analyses include vacancies by industry and occupation; numbers of employers with vacancies; and qualification levels amongst jobseekers and levels required by employers.
UJ reports home page

However, closer examination of UJ raises many concerns, several of which have recently surfaced on the Labour Market Statistics Group on StatsUserNet. The serious deficiencies are very unfortunate at a time when there are increasing concerns about skills mismatches, the quality of jobs and careers advice, and LEPs working with partners on skills strategies and local EU growth programmes.

First, there are issues about how the UJ statistical reports function works – with no guidance and descriptions of the data (metadata) provided. Drop down menus for local authority areas stop part way through the alphabet (tough if you’re after East Devon on one and Kingston upon Thames on another). You can derive top ten rankings, eg, for occupational groups – which generates a bar chart where you need to hover your cursor to see what the bars contain. You have the option to download into Excel, and all this provides is a picture and no data.

monthly trend reportSecondly, UJ does not use conventional classifications, for geography, industry or occupation. The contract spec for UJ expected the use of Standard Industrial and Standard Occupational Classification (SIC & SOC) codes, but UJ currently uses Monster’s own taxonomy. Monster’s US origins are evident in the report on qualifications held by jobseekers where ‘Some High School Coursework’ and ‘High School or equivalent’ are categories. User interfaces are, however, tailored to Britain: when employers post vacancies, they are asked to select job location regions, though these correspond more to ITV broadcasting (Anglia, Tyne-Tees, etc) rather than administrative regions. Analysis of the industry breakdown of vacancies is made problematic by the high proportion which feature under ‘Staffing/Employment Agencies’, rather than the sector concerned. Looking at data for Hertfordshire in March, for instance, showed 55% of all vacancies in this category.

Thirdly, UJ is typically capturing a different profile of vacancies than the previous JCP system, with many more managerial and professional posts and many fewer low skill or no skill vacancies. (See CESI’s submission to the Work and Pension Committee inquiry into the role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system and Tees Valley Unlimited review of vacancy data sources). There are also oddities which seem difficult to explain: the StatsUserNet discussion, for instance, commented on numbers of vacancies for ‘diplomats’ in the Tees Valley and Cumbria.

It’s important to understand how the new system works, combining as it does posts entered by employers, bulk uploads from ‘job warehouse’ sites, and other vacancies ‘scraped’ (by agreement) from the Internet. In this, there is relevant learning to be gained from the USA, where the Department of Labor has supported projects which made use of data using online job postings for real-time LMI. This experience offers a good number of warnings, for instance about the likelihood of duplicated postings, under-representation of jobs in smaller companies and in rural areas, and of variations by sector, locality and level of geographic analysis.

It’s sad that DWP and Monster have not adopted a more open and inviting approach to improving the site – it’s far from co-design principles that get the best out of interactive websites. In the August 2012 DWP Quarterly Statistical Summary, there was an article which explained DWP’s new approach to vacancy statistics, inviting comments and referring to a six-month beta stage.

The latest statement (Hansard, 4 June 2013) is that DWP and Monster have a timetable for prioritising and implementing improvements, but this has not been made public.

Finally, while these are gripes from a labour market analysis perspective, spare a thought for jobseekers. It’s not difficult to find criticisms of how the system works for them – take a look, for instance, at this blog and the comments that follow. It’s very serious: Jobseekers Allowance claimants can be required to look for work using Universal Jobmatch , or risk losing their benefit.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=1183

Troubled families in Brighton

In response to the Government’s initiative on Troubled Families, Brighton & Hove Council and partners undertook a short and sharp scoping exercise on how they are need to move forward locally. Alongside in-house research, mapping of service provision and customer journey analysis, we were commissioned to review service delivery models and the associated evidence base on cost-effectiveness.This work featured a review of the ‘direction of travel’ in Community Budget areas and innovative approaches, along with commentary on evidence on cost-effectiveness and summaries of the evolving policy context and knowledge on ‘what works’ in working with families with multiple disadvantage.The review highlighted a number of key issues including:
  • finding the money to respond to central government’s offer of up to 40% costs – demanding a well-evidenced business case and means of ensuring fairer sharing of costs and benefits amongst local partners
  • strengthening mechanisms for reducing ‘flows’ of families from lower risk groups into situations requiring crisis/ high costs responses
  • integrating resources for tackling worklessness (Jobcentre Plus, ESF Families Programme, Work Programme)
  • exploring further how families themselves can shape provision and local communities play supportive roles
  • ensuring that the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise are in place: not just in working with families, but also in co-design, analysis and evaluation
  • translating the costs that are avoided into actual cashable efficiencies that contribute to savings or can be reinvested in activities offering better returns
For a copy of our review, please e-mail us by clicking here .
Details of the approach implemented in Brighton & Hove can be found here.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=282

Worklessness Co-Design

DWP have worked with local authorities, Jobcentre Plus and local partners in five areas to develop Co-Design Pilots, testing new solutions in tackling worklessness – in a world where local authorities are had to rethink their role, given much reduced resources and the advent of the Work Programme and Community Budgets. The pilots were in Birmingham, Bradford, Lewisham, South Tyneside and Swindon. New ways of working variously related to, eg, working with families; Jobcentre Plus outreach; key workers; personal budgets; social enterprise for employability; and employer engagement; and a youth employment campaign. On behalf of Local Government Improvement and Development – since absorbed within the Local Government Association, we supported the pilots and wider dissemination. We set out to:
  • bring together knowledge and learning from the pilots and parallel developments in other parts of the country
  • signpost relevant tools, research and evidence, eg, on customer insight, cost-benefit, and service design and innovation
  • highlighting policy developments which are shaping the future terrain
Resources from this work are available for download:
  • Customer insight and worklessness: recent contributions to knowledge, evidence and techniques relating to the needs and experiences of customers of worklessness services.
  • Cost benefit and value for money resources: materials designed to assist partners in assessing financial costs and benefits in planning and commissioning, business case preparation, evaluation, and so on. It goes beyond ‘worklessness’ in including relevant content on children and young people, health and crime reduction which matter when looking at wider social returns and potential savings to the public purse.
  • Evaluation checklist for worklessness co-design: a set of questions, developed for the  pilots to help them build in evaluation from the outset (content linked to the appendix in DWP’s interim report which provides a ‘light touch’ cost-benefit framework
  • Worklessness co-design pilots: what’s been tried elsewhere?: a briefing on local ‘pilots’ in other parts of the country that have used structured approaches to innovation. These include initiatives stemming from Total Place and programmes such as Family Intervention projects, Drug System Change and Child Poverty Pathfinders which explore similar themes and challenges.
  • Tools for worklessness co-design: signposts to tools supporting collaborative planning and commissioning, customer insight and behaviour change, and service redesign and innovation.
The final DWP Co-design report drew out achievements, lessons and next steps. It also included case studies on each of the pilots, a checklist for local authorities on working with JCP and Work Programme contractors, and an outline of what JCP bring to the partnership table.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=272

Future Jobs Fund ‘How To’ guide

Educe produced the ‘How To’ guide on the Future Jobs Fund (331KB) for IDeA (now part of the Local Government Association) to help local authorities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises bid for and develop effective programmes. FJF was a recession response, linked to the recommendations of the Houghton ‘Tackling Worklessness’ Review, providing for the creation of 170,000 jobs (120,000 for young people and 50,000 for older adults in unemployment hotspots).The initial draft of the guide was circulated in late 2009 as organisations prepared bids and developed their plans, with a final version published in March 2010. This provided the background to FJF, advice on what makes a good bid and a good programme, and summarised success factors for delivery (eg, on engagement and publicity, programme design and management, and linking FJF and Apprenticeships). It also highlighted ‘top tips’ and practical things to watch out for.The Coalition Government subsequently closed FJF to new bids. However, contract holders delivered FJF into 2011. While much of the guide is FJF-specific, the content also includes lessons of wider relevant to the design and implementation of employment programmes.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=252

Partnerships & Places case studies

Case studies for the Partnerships and Places Library, developed by IDeA (now part of the Local Government Association) – intended to enable ‘sharing learning and innovation to transform localities’. These have included:
  • Dorset Performance Management Partnership
  • Implementing a reward target in Derby: children’s physical activity
  • Manchester Economic Development Services Framework
  • Manchester: tackling worklessness amongst social housing tenants
  • Enable, Nottingham (learning and skills consortium in the voluntary and community sector)
  • Flight of the Flamingos, Wolverhampton (partnership development programme aimed at middle managers)
  • Lewisham: putting people first (an effective model for driving service improvement and efficiency savings, now being used in a partnership setting, a joint local authority/NHS centre for children with learning difficulties and their families)
  • Salford Spotlights (locality action planning)
  • Hull Youth Enterprise Partnership
More recent case studies have been published on the Work Together site, which the Local Government Association trialled as a precursor to their new Knowledge Hub:
  • Social Innovation Lab for Kent (SILK)
  • Oldham Reducing Teenage Pregnancy Through Information Sharing
  • Green Flag Thematic Study: Improving Economic Prosperity During the Recession
  • Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s Virtual School

The case studies were part of our work for IDeA/Local Government Improvement and Development under a framework contract for ‘Sustainable Communities’ and ‘Policy and Performance’. The Library also contains updated versions of case studies we orginated for the predecessor site, Renewal.net – such as B&Q Bolton recruitment policies.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=182

Business Support: Beacon Councils

Supporting business: what can we learn from the beacons?( pdf – 215 KB – a good practice guide based on the experience of the six ‘Fostering Business Growth’ Beacon Councils. Published by the Local Government Association (LGA).

The document looks at the roles that the Beacon Councils have performed in support of local business and the added value that they have created, before going on to review factors underlying their success. Whilst each area is very distinctive in terms of its industrial structure and community, there are common themes which help explain the difference they have made. The report finishes with a set of key messages for local authorities, central government and business audiences.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.educe.co.uk/?p=192