Training will be compulsory for long-term unemployed

The long-term jobless will have to undertake four weeks’ training or work experience as part of welfare reform plans.

The Flexible New Deal (FND) was launched recently by work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper with the aim of getting more than three quarters of a million people who have been out of work for more than six months into work by the end of 2010.

Mandatory work trials and work experience will be developed, said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), through pilot schemes in several trial areas from next year. They will include “at least” four weeks “mandatory activity” such as training or work experience.

Cooper said: “We’re working with businesses, local councils, and voluntary sector groups as part of a major change in the way the welfare state delivers more personalised support to help people into work. In return everyone has to do their bit to find work or take up the new help that’s on offer.”

The FND is funded through the £1bn Future Jobs Fund.

Employment minister Jim Knight said: “The FND is here to help the longer-term unemployed develop new skills, build confidence and significantly increase their chances of getting into work.”

The DWP said claimants’ work experience and training will be organised through FND providers who will negotiate placements with employers. There are 14, including A4e, a training company set up 20 years ago to help former Sheffield steel workers find work.

Others include Remploy and Pertemps People Development Group.

Jobseekers eligible for the FND will undergo basic skills screening to see if they need help with literacy and numeracy, said the DWP. Once they are referred to an FND, claimants will be assessed and a training and work experience action plan devised for each individual.

The DWP said FND providers’ success will be judged by how many claimants find jobs and how long they stay in them.

FND will be rolled out nationwide.

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