By Marcus Leach

Jobseekers will be able to get far more help identifying needs and learning new skills that will help them back to work as part new measures unveiled today (Friday) by John Hayes, Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning (BIS) and Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment (DWP).

Jobseekers will be given greater and better co-ordinated access to careers advice, starting with a pilot programme that will significantly boost the number of careers advisers providing services in Jobcentres and help shape the new National Careers Service, which starts in April 2012.

The pilot programme will give Jobcentre Plus claimants full-time access to careers advice and provide better, more flexible support to help jobseekers gain the skills to get into work. The pilot will take place in 22 Jobcentre Plus locations across the country.

The co-location is part of a wider package of skills support for those looking for work which launched in August. It is designed to provide a more flexible and tailored approach to skills involving Jobcentre Plus, careers advice, colleges and employers. In the past jobseekers tended to be presented with a prescriptive list of skills options that weren’t always necessarily aligned with the demands of the local labour market.

“We are building a system that will help people acquire the skills they need to get into work and get on with life. Reforming the way that Jobcentre Plus, careers advice, colleges and other training providers and employers interact at a local level is critical to our success," John Hayes said.

“Giving jobseekers full-time convenient access to a tailored and improved careers advice service will significantly improve their chances of getting into work.”

Chris Grayling is keen to equip people looking for work with the necessary skills to find employment.

“We want to make sure that we give those looking for work the right skills that mean when we put them in front of an employer they get the job," he said.

"Too often in the past jobseekers were sent off to do long courses that taught them skills that local employers didn’t value. That’s all changing, we are getting people job ready to take advantage of the opportunities being created across the economy.”

The Ministers announced the new skills support offer during a joint visit to the Jobcentre Plus in Peckham and Lambeth College in Brixton.

A roundtable discussion, involving a range of local skills and employment representatives, was held at Peckham Jobcentre Plus to discuss the new measures and how to work together to maximise the benefits. Peckham Jobcentre is one of the trial locations for the pilot programme.

At Lambeth College the Ministers met with unemployed learners who have benefited from training, as well as college staff and Next Step advisers.

Prior to the visit, the Ministers held a Ministerial Forum in central London where they met with representatives from the business, skills and employment sectors — including the Association of Colleges, Association of Employment and Learning Providers, the TUC, Federation of Small Businesses and the Confederation of British Industry. This is the third in a series of meetings to discuss joint working between Jobcentre Plus, skills providers and employers in implementing the new skills offer for the unemployed.

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