Third sector employment scheme hails success as criticism for Work Programme mounts
Third sector-led employment initiatives are proving to get young people into work far more successfully than Westminster’s Work Programme.
Community Jobs Scotland this week celebrated getting work for its 5,000th employee – as calls were made to abolish Westminster’s controversial Work Programme.
The scheme, managed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), offers jobs lasting at least 39 weeks for 16 and 17-year-olds or a minimum of 26 weeks for 18 to 24-year-olds.
Sixteen year old Lauren Sinton from Bathgate was unveiled as the employee reaching the yardstick after being taken on as a retail assistant with River Kids in Livingston.
Donna Mackinnon, director of employment services at SCVO, said the success stood in stark contrast to the failing Work Programme.
“We are extremely proud to have changed the lives of 5,000 young unemployed people through Community Jobs Scotland, which has created jobs for them in 580 charities and third sector organisations right across Scotland,” she said.
“This includes young people who face the biggest barriers to work, such as low skills and qualifications, who are so often let down by other employment schemes.
“The programme has been so successful because it gives people the break they so desperately need – the chance of a real paid job, and the chance to boost their confidence, learn new skills and to support charities which are facing funding cuts in tandem with record high demand for their services.
“More than 70% of people taking part in CJS go on to either full time employment, further training or volunteering.
In our view there’s no justification for continuing such a broken and exploitative system - Donna Mackinnon
“This stands in stark contrast to the failing Work Programme which is only getting 18% of people into a job.
“That’s why we’re so appalled by the UK government’s decision to extend its failing Work Programme contracts in Scotland when it was agreed by the Smith Commission that it would transfer to the Scottish Parliament as soon as current contracts expired.
"In our view there’s no justification for continuing such a broken and exploitative system.
"Instead, we should be investing more in approaches like Community Jobs Scotland which are proven to create real jobs for people.”
It is Lauren Sinton’s first job and first foray into the third sector with River Kids – a charity supplying toys to disadvantaged children in West Lothian.
“This is my first ever job so it has helped get me used to a working environment rather than school,” she said.
“River Kids has given me a lot of support through the short period of time I’ve been here so far.
“I have increased my IT and computer skills, I have become a more confident person from answering the phone to greeting people which will help a lot in the future when I move on permanent employment.”
Minister for youth and women’s employment, Annabelle Ewing, said: “Community Jobs Scotland performs an important role in helping young women and men who are far from the labour market into jobs.
"The third sector continues to benefit from their skills and enthusiasm and I am very pleased that, with the Scottish Government’s support, they have hit such an important landmark.
"I wish Lauren the very best of success in her new post.”