As new ideas take shape and plans are developed for introducing a more focused work and health programme, a recent Serco – LGC roundtable was a timely and lively discussion, which provided insight into the opportunities for co-design and co-development of services as well as the challenges and priorities faced by local authorities in different parts of the country.
Certainly, the move away from a national work programme to a more localised form of delivery represents a significant change to what has gone before. It’s also becoming clear that a more coherent and joined-up service model to maximise the employability of individuals and to address severe health and psychological barriers to employment within local communities will require a new and altogether different mindset.
Future success will depend on the effective identification, selection and marshalling of a multitude of national, regional and local resources to ensure all local interventions deliver the desired outcomes. And that’s not just a case of localising existing forms of intervention; there needs to be fresh thinking and new ways of working. As was evident from the roundtable discussion, for example, there is a widely shared view that a much more joined-up approach to vocational skill interventions is essential within any programme that aims to improve employability and support sustained employment of individuals.
To some, such new levels of integration and collaboration may be seen as laudable on paper but problematic in practice. But it’s not idealistic so long as the new service delivery model has shared objectives that meet the requirements of a multitude of stakeholders on the one hand and the precise needs of local people on the other - with everyone working towards the same shared goals.
The challenge, therefore, is for a local authority to harness its existing resources and local knowledge as effectively as possible in an ever-changing and ever-tighter financial environment. It then has to bring together the diverse skills and expertise of different external parties in a way that reflects the shift of emphasis and new objectives for employment support.
Working with a facilitating partner that has the experience of managing complex multi-function contracts will certainly help in that process. It’s important to remember, though, that it’s not a case of simply replacing existing employment services. It’s much more a case of embracing the precise needs and unique characteristics of the local area and then fine-tuning service delivery to deliver tangible benefits from truly integrated and targeted interventions.
Follow the link for details on the Serco – LGC roundtable discussion with local authorities and health professionals.
Blog by Aaron Henricksen, Business Director, Serco Welfare Services
This blog was first published on 21 January via www.lgcplus.com