FE News Exclusive: Following JETS’ successful flight path

ERSA’s CEO, Elizabeth Taylor writes exclusively for FE News, originally published on 2 November here.

Borne out of crisis and mobilised at breakneck speed, the JETS employability programme broke many barriers: for its participants, and the organisations delivering it. Its subsequent and somewhat surprising success unearthed important lessons for future commissions, writes Elizabeth Taylor, CEO of the Employment Related Services Association. 

With referrals now closed, the final participants set to benefit from the Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) employability programme are now starting their journey back to a working future. If the last two years are anything to go by, it will be a swift one.

Launched in October 2020, initially for 12 months, JETS is an extension of the Work and Heath Programme (WHP), commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions. Intended to support the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their jobs in the pandemic, a handful of established employability providers were tasked with the mammoth task of finding them new, sustainable work opportunities as quickly as possible. And they did. Performance outstripped targets and JETS was extended for a further year.

The pandemic abated and DWP finally ceased referrals at the end of September 2022. Delivery of services to existing participants will continue until April next year, when the national statistics of the JETS legacy will no doubt speak for themselves.

So, now we take stock of JETS’ trajectory, what worked well? Canvassing the national providers of the programme, the feedback has been unanimous…

The employability sector was ready and waiting 

Awarding contracts to existing WHP providers meant the infrastructure, communication channels, and resources were in place to mobilise quickly. The speed with which DWP awarded the JETS contracts allowed for a rapid response to an emerging situation. As a result, participants received fast and much needed support at an unprecedented and uncertain time.

As Richard Clifton, Managing Director Employability at Shaw Trust commented:

“Using existing providers of WHP meant that DWP guidance could be quickly adapted to support the providers in efficiently onboarding participants. Great communication between commissioners and providers enabled feedback, developments and best practice sharing to flow.”

Existing relationships and expertise were in place 

Providers were able to use their existing networks to maximise opportunities for participants and employers.

Partnerships were already built – with supply chains, employers, Jobcentre Plus and community referral partners – and advisers had existing expertise in local labour markets. Armed with this knowledge and updated insights, emerging sectors and opportunities were quickly identified. This then enabled support, training, and development of participants’ skills to move into those sectors.

That said, positioning jobseekers for wholesale change – in their own minds, and those of a potential employer – takes skill and creativity. JETS advisers identifying participants’ transferrable skills and encouraging them to explore new sectors, then presenting them positively to employers desperate to fill vacancies has been a common theme of the programme. As has the inevitable need for support with wellbeing issues, prompted in no small part by sudden unemployment and the pandemic itself.

Although the pandemic led to quick adjustment for everyone involved, the sector provided a bedrock of partner networks, employer relationships, and expertise on which to build.

Fresh talent brings fresh thinking

Not only did Jobcentre Plus and DWP drastically increase staff numbers to cope with the surge of newly unemployed people, JETS providers launched huge recruitment campaigns to resource their employability services. Recruiting from outside of the sector, people who themselves had been affected by the pandemic brought in a wealth of talent that could directly relate to the issues facing JETS participants. Often using their own experiences of being unemployed, they put participants at ease, while being expertly tutored by experienced managers and accessing accredited, industry-specific training.

The approach added real value at The Growth Company, according to JETS Operations Manager, Rochelle Seddon

“We recruited employees from a diverse employment and skill background and so mapped each Employment Coach’s employment history, interests, languages spoken and skill set. This allowed the team conducting initial assessments to pair each participant up with an Employment Coach most suited to their needs.

“Recruiting advisors with diverse backgrounds brought a fresh approach and invigorated enthusiasm. Intense and continual training, KPI monitoring and effective management, has resulted in a team very passionate about JETS and the work we do.”

Early intervention is key 

JETS focused in the first instance on people not receiving furlough or self-employment subsidies. Jobseekers in receipt of Universal Credit or New Style Jobseekers Allowance for 13 weeks or more were eligible for support.

Being able to support participants out of work for only a relatively short amount of time was unique for a DWP employability programme. We know that extended periods of worklessness can create long term barriers for people – not just in employer perception but also in terms of wellbeing, easily exacerbated in this case by the national situation. As one provider put it:

“Enabling a rapid response to unexpected employment means providers catch claimants at the start of their journey and can help them proactively tackle barriers to employment. It is important that employability provisions can support both long-term and newly unemployed participants for many benefits – preventing a ‘spiralling’ of barriers, effective peer support, and early wellbeing support to name a few.”

There are calls to shorten further the eligibility time lock of employment programmes to allow for earlier intervention, provision of digital devices to participants, and processing of essential right to work paperwork. Fabled day-one services are some way off in my view but JETS took a big step toward demonstrating the importance of early intervention.

Remote/hybrid delivery has proven its worth 

Historically, employment support contracts have been delivered face-to-face. So switching quickly to remote delivery at the height of a pandemic was seen as a necessary evil (to some). Yet no one can refute the lifeline it provided with JETS. It enabled a wider pool of candidates to access the service, and to work within the sector.

Hats off here to those back office and IT teams that implemented the huge upscale in digital infrastructure for their delivery teams and participants alike!

Employability professionals too showed immense resilience, adapting to primarily online delivery in record time. Maintaining meaningful engagement with participants in this way once again took empathy, and expertise in wellbeing, as well as employability knowledge.

Virtual appointments allowed cohorts of participants, such as those with physical barriers, caring responsibilities, and social anxiety/mental health issues, access to vital support. Lockdown has long since ended, but it’s clear that remote/digital delivery of employment services is here to stay; an effective method to interact with participants and manage large caseloads.

Upskilling equals jobs 

The link between appropriate skills and employability is undeniable, as is the importance of brokerage between the available skills market and the skills required by the market. Here, the sector really stepped up to the challenge…

Providers report incorporating sector-based work academies and career routeways in health and social care, HGV licences and customer service amongst others to respond to vacancy needs in care, retail and call centres. Many partnered with training providers where appropriate to help jobseekers pivot into new industries and involved local recruiting employers to offer credence and feedback.

Others appointed adult skills coordinators, integration teams and internal group facilitators to source and deliver courses to participants.

For many, digital exclusion and not knowing how to apply for jobs online presented an extra barrier and cause of anxiety. Most job applications and many jobs now involve digital abilities, so it is vital to address this as an ongoing priority. For JETS, providing digital access to participants and then delivering qualifications digitally worked extremely well, with thousands of online courses undertaken.

Points to replicate 

Don’t get me wrong, JETS wasn’t without its issues: concerns about competition between programmes and mis-allocation of participants further away from the jobs market have been raised, but if anything, the recurring complaint seems to be that JETS wasn’t extended further. It worked well and providers want to keep this best practice in place to help more people. While that may not be an option, we must distil what worked well and encourage policy makers to repeat it.

My top takeaways are: 

  • A blended model of remote and face-to-face delivery will reach a wider range of participants
  • Early intervention reduces the risk of long term unemployment, which often leads to more complex needs developing
  • Increasing digital literacy and reducing digital poverty across communities is integral to both skills provision and employability support
  • Providers are receptive to working with alternative funding arrangements. The new way of funding DWP contracts by using Cost Plus was effective and should be considered for future contracts as it enhanced investment in delivery.

JETS catapulted the employment support sector into the spotlight like never before. Two years later, its unconventional but necessary approach holds important lessons.

The employability sector showed a rapid and professional response to an unprecedented situation and should be applauded for what it enabled JETS to deliver.

My thanks go to SeetecIngeusThe Growth CompanyShaw Trust and Reed in Partnership for their invaluable contributions to this article. 

JETS successes:

Stephen earns a crust thanks to new bakery job (ingeus.co.uk)

“I don’t think I could have gotten as far as I have, as quickly as I have, without your help -Shauna’s story – Seetec Pluss


Further information:

Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) – JobHelp

Seetec Pluss supports over 10,000 people into work across the South West

Employment and health specialist Seetec Pluss is delighted to have supported over 10,000 jobseekers into work in the South West of England, after they were referred to the Government’s Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme.  

The programme, which began in October 2020 as a response to the pandemic, has been providing vital support to job seekers across the region. The support offers jobseekers with a dedicated member of staff who can help them with a range of activities – including access to skills, training, and support with digital upskilling – to help build their confidence, self-belief and get back into sustainable work. It is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund.  

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “It’s wonderful to see over 10,000 people across the South West are back in work thanks to our JETS scheme. Hats off to the Seetec Pluss team – this partnership with our fantastic DWP Work Coaches and JCPs has been supporting people every step of the way, helping them to secure a brilliant next opportunity and really progress in their career by filling local vacancies.” 

Seetec Pluss Operations Director Tara Fisher said: “We are delighted to have helped so many people rebuild their lives and find new employment opportunities over the last 12 months. It has been such a difficult time for so many. The JETS Scheme is providing vital one to one support, helping people get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.” 

Molly Crabb from Torbay, Devon, made her journey from unemployed to self-employed a tasty one by pursing her passion for baking and launching Greedy Cow Cakes. 

“I was referred to the JETS Scheme in November 2020, I told my employment advisor that I wanted to start my own bakery business. I was given great support and advice to get my business up and running.” 

Robert Ellis, 60 from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, was made redundant in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and was referred to the JETS programme. Robert was concerned that his age would hinder his job search, but Robert explained: “I was having problems negotiating my way around the digital world of applying for work and needed more 1:1 support. I have been self-employed most of my life, so this was all new to me. My employment advisor kept me motivated. I am now in full time employment, and I have already completed a Level 2 Electrical Installation qualification and looking forward to completing Level 3.” 

Seetec Pluss Executive Director Employability Chris Harrison concluded: “To achieve this milestone is a significant testament to the dedication of our teams, our local partners and stakeholders, and the resilience of the community in the South West.  

“We know that there are many more people that are and will continue to benefit from our services across the region, including the Work & Health Programme and Restart Scheme; both of which we are proud to deliver on behalf of the DWP. The transformation in people’s lives once they find employment is a joy and we are privileged to be part of their journey.” 

Seetec Pluss manages the Work and Health Programme JETS in Cornwall, Devon, Avon, Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Bristol, Swindon, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Sussex.  

To find out more:   

Jobseekers: Want to get back into work fast? Find out more:https://www.seetecpluss.co.uk/programme/work-and-health-programme-jets/  

Employers: Looking for a great job-ready candidate: Find out more:https://www.seetecpluss.co.uk/employers/recruiting-for-recovery/  


Note to editors  

About JETS  

  • The Work and Health JETS Programme is an expansion of the Work and Health Programme (which supports people to get back into work). It is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund.  
  • JETS stands for Job Entry Targeted Support.  
  • It is anticipated that Work and Health Programme JETS will support 50,000 people over a 12-month period.  
  • JETS tailored support is available over the phone or online. Face-to-face appointments can be organised at a Covid-secure office following an initial telephone discussion.  

For further information please contact: Nancy Rogers 07779 251 711 Nancy.rogers@seetec.co.uk

JETS scheme helps over-50s achieve post-Covid-19 career change

Two Wiltshire residents have proved it’s never too late to change career after struggling to find work during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

While the impact of the pandemic has hit younger workers hardest, older workers too have been left in a precarious position, particularly as the furlough scheme ends this month. 

Earlier in the year, over a quarter of furlough jobs were held by the over 50s, some 1.3 million people, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Latest labour market statistics, published this month, show a small drop in the employment rate for over 50s this year to 71.2%, with nearly 800,000 people aged 50-64 either actively seeking or willing to work. 

Employment and health specialist Seetec Pluss has recently supported two men aged over 55 into new career opportunities, after they were referred to the Government’s Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme.  

Robert Ellis, 60 from Trowbridge, was made redundant in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and was referred to the JETS      programme.  Robert explained: “I was having problems negotiating my way around the digital world of applying for work and needed more 1:1 support.  

“Seetec Pluss provided me with a PC, pointing me in the right direction to find jobs and supporting me to apply for vacancies. My main barrier was my lack of digital skills. I have been self-employed most of my life, so this was all new to me. My Employment Advisor kept me motivated. 

“I was put forward for a multi-skilled operative position with a building services specialist. I was delighted when I was told I had got the position and I started my new job a week later. Financially this has put me in a much better position, but it has also improved my mental wellbeing, by giving me back a routine and some purpose.”  

Robert has already completed his Level 2 Electrical Installation qualification and is looking forward to completing Level 3. 

Stephen Goodwood, 55 from Swindon, had 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry when he was made redundant two years ago. He said: “Shortly after, my father was diagnosed with cancer and I spent almost two years caring for him before he sadly passed away.  

“This really affected me and although I wanted to return to work, I was a little lost on where to begin, and with the pandemic hitting, it put my industry on its knees.  

“My Seetec Pluss Advisor kept me motivated with regular calls and helped me re-train and gain certificates in first aid, food hygiene, business administration and customer care to help me transition into a new career. This supported my confidence to move forward.   

“I have now moved into a different industry, facilities management, and I have secured a fabrication technician position that is varied and interesting for a great company with fantastic pay.  

“Seetec Pluss supported me with purchasing tools for this position. Having this job has given me back my self-respect, motivation with life and a financial freedom and security that I did not have whilst I was on benefits. I am now really looking forward to the future.”  

Seetec Pluss Operations Director Tara Fisher said: “The JETS Scheme provides jobseekers with a lifeline of support to help them rebuild their confidence, self-belief and get back into sustainable work.   

“Age should not define career opportunities. Working closely with each person, our coaches offer 1:1 personalised support to help people identify transferrable skills, prepare CVs, get through the difficult days and feel confident about the talents they have to offer.  

“Stephen and Robert are great examples of jobseekers who have embraced re-skilling and have been successful in transitioning to new careers later in life. Due to Covid, the jobs market is challenging at the moment, but the opportunities are still out there.”  

Seetec Pluss is the prime contractor for the Work and Health Programme JETS in Cornwall, Devon, Avon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Sussex. To find out more:   

Jobseekers: Want to get back into work fast? https://www.seetecpluss.co.uk/programme/work-and-health-programme-jets/  

Employers: Looking for a great job-ready candidate: https://www.seetecpluss.co.uk/employers/recruiting-for-recovery/  


Note to editors  

About JETS  

●    The Work and Health JETS Programme is an expansion of the Work and Health Programme (which supports people to get back into work). It is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions.  

●      JETS stands for Job Entry Targeted Support.  

●      It is anticipated that Work and Health Programme JETS will support 50,000 people over a  12-month period.  

●      JETS tailored support is available over the phone or online. Face-to-face appointments can be organised at a Covid-secure office following an initial telephone discussion.  

Statistics can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/economic-labour-market-status-of-individuals-aged-50-and-over-trends-over-time-september-2021/economic-labour-market-status-of-individuals-aged-50-and-over-trends-over-time-september-2021#employment (September 9 2021) 

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/ageing/articles/livinglonger/olderworkersduringthecovid19pandemic (May 4 2021)  

For further information please contact: Nancy Rogers 07779 251 711 Nancy.rogers@seetec.co.uk 

JETS job scheme relaunching 100,000 careers

Caxton house sign DWP

On average, nearly 500 jobseekers a day across Great Britain have started on the government’s £238 million JETS – Job Entry Targeted Support – scheme over the last seven months.

And just under 13,000 have already returned to work after securing new roles through JETS.

With opportunities opening up as the country proceeds carefully along the roadmap to Covid-recovery, it means the Department for Work and Pensions is well on the way to hitting its target of helping 250,000 by September.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey said:

Behind these figures are real people dealt a rough hand by the pandemic who are now receiving vital support to get back into work, at a time when they need it most.

Our Plan for Jobs is delivering and opening up opportunities in every region and nation across the country, and we remain relentlessly focused on turning our jabs into jobs as we build back better.

The support helps people out of work for three months by giving them access to the tailored, flexible support needed to move back into work quickly. That includes specialist advice on how they can utilise existing or build new skills to move into growing sectors where jobs are available, such as green energy and construction, as well as CV and interview guidance.

Elliot Dock, aged 33, from Eastbourne is one of the successful JETS graduates now in work as a direct result of the scheme. He was struggling to find a job during the pandemic despite having previous experience of working on a farm. This was where his passion lay and his Work Coach set him up on a skills course to boost his employability.

He is now working for an agricultural contracting company based in West Sussex and is thankful for all the support he received in firing up his career again.

Elliot said:

My experience of JETS has been outstanding. I’m so grateful for all the help in finding work, and not only any old job but something I’m actually interested in, at a place where I can build a career.

Chief Executive of the Shaw Trust, one of the eleven organisations delivering the support, Chris Luck said:

I’m delighted that through JETS we have supported Elliot back into the career field he enjoys.  We know that good work is more than just a job; it gives purpose and brings a sense of well-being.

At Shaw Trust, in partnership with the DWP, we are proud to support hundreds to return to work and see them begin to rebuild their lives.

The announcement follows new employment figures released last week that showed the unemployment rate had fallen for a third month to 4.8% – with government continuing to ramp up support to get people back into work.

Once enrolled the tailored programme also gives job hunters the boost they need to return to employment through an action plan agreed with their personal adviser, peer support and signposting to opportunities to build vital skills.

JETS is a key pillar of the government’s Plan for Jobs, which is helping people of all ages into work. The flagship Kickstart Scheme has seen an average of 400 young people a day start a job over the last month, with over 200,000 new high quality jobs created.

To help deliver the Plan, the DWP has recruited an additional 13,500 Work Coaches to protect, support and create jobs across the country, providing one-to-one support tailored to individual claimants and local jobs markets.

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Launch of Work and Health Programme Job Entry: Targeted Support (JETS)


The scheme, which is called JETS (Job Entry Targeted Support), – is backed by a £238 million investment from the government.

JETS will provide employment support to Universal Credit claimants in the all work related requirements group and New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants who have been unemployed for at least 13 weeks. 

Those put forward for the scheme, by their work coach, will have access to tailored, flexible support to quickly get back into employment. The new programme will see a number of providers offer a range of help, including specialist advice on how people can move into growing sectors, as well as CV and interview coaching.

The programme will also give jobseekers the boost they need to return to employment through an action plan agreed with their Work Coach, peer support and opportunities to build their skills.

Shaw Trust CEO, Chris Luck, said:

Shaw Trust is pleased to build on its partnership with DWP in the new Job Entry Targeted Support programme. Shaw Trust has the skill, experience and capacity to help the thousands of people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. We aim to help participants return to work as swiftly as possible, as the first few months are critical in preventing long-term unemployment.

“As a social enterprise we are committed to maximising social value for those we support in our programmes, our commissioners and ultimately the tax payer.”

Read the full press release here

More information can be found at GOV.UK.