Providing training to Bradford’s unemployed is helping to get more people off Jobseeker’s Allowance, according to one the district’s Jobcentre managers.
Yesterday, the Government released figures on how training schemes introduced in recent years have helped hundreds of thousands of people learn the basic skills needed to become employable.
If Jobcentre staff believe a lack of skills are standing in the way of a claimant getting a job, the jobseeker can be forced to take a training course.
If they refuse, they could have their benefits cut.
In Yorkshire and the Humber, there were more than 227,600 referrals made to skills courses between August 2011 and February 2014.
Of these, 80,540 were sent directly on training courses in basic and occupational skills.
In Bradford, the most common of these courses are English for speakers of other languages and IT skills.
Locally, jobseekers are sent for courses at colleges and Bradford College, Shipley College, Leeds City College (Keighley) and Bowling College are all training those receiving Jobseekers allowance, funded by the Skills Funding Agency.
This training takes the form of not only vocational skills, but also “soft skills” like communication and punctuality.
Diana Towler, employer and partnership manager for Bradford Jobcentres, said the courses were vital in breaking the cycle of people being stuck on jobseekers allowance.
She credits the courses with helping reduce unemployment in the area – last month the number of jobseekers fell by 655. She said: “We know that people with lower qualifications might struggle more to get a job, so the more skills a person can demonstrate, the more they have to offer an employer.
“And for young people, who may also lack experience, it’s doubly important.
“It’s not just formal qualifications that can boost a person’s employability, softer skills like demonstrating the right attitude, motivation, and punctuality are also highly valued by employers.
“We have an excellent relationship with local colleges.
“In Bradford there are a lot of people who cannot speak English and that is a skill they can develop through a course.
“The courses can also boost people’s confidence and help with their ability to search for a job.
“Often these skills are more important to an employer than skills like being able to take a car apart.
“There has been a drop in unemployment month by month for the last 12 months and I would say this shows the measures are working.
“We need to make sure people have the skills so that when they move into work they are able to sustain that work.
“They give people a reason to get up and get to work each day.”
Many of the courses are between 12 to 16 hours a week.