IntoWork 2015: An overview

22 July 2015

The 2015 IntoWork Convention began with the announcement from Dave Simmonds OBE, Chief Executive at Inclusion that, building upon the strategic alliance formed between Inclusion and NIACE earlier this year, a full merger will now take place and 2016 will mark the creation of a new organisation. An organisation which will champion employment, skills and learning for all and that shall continue to deliver a high standard of relevant and practical research and policy development, providing real benefit to people, employers and the economy.

IntoWork 2015 opened with the UK labour market in a markedly improved position than in recent years, with unemployment down 25% compared to June 2011 and the JSA count dropping 50%. Furthermore, youth unemployment has decreased 16% and there are now just 2.5 unemployed people for every reported vacancy compared to 5 per vacancy in 2011; however such improvements are not across the board. The ESA claimant count remains stubbornly high at 2.5 million, falling just 4% since 2011, meanwhile the number of people in work suffered a shock decline of 67,000 – both factors illustrate the fragility of the issues shaping the UK labour market and the need for pioneering policies and innovative organisations.

With the current labour market context in frame, alongside the manifesto commitments of the new government, including a commitment to full employment, halving the disability employment gap and the promise of further devolution; leading policy makers, practitioners and stakeholders from the employment and skills sector met to share best practice, debate policy and bring about the innovation, creative thinking and new approaches needed in order to address the needs of disadvantaged individuals.

The Breakout Sessions formed an important element of the day’s proceedings; with over 50 debates, seminars and presentations engaging people from across the industry and providing a platform for attendees to share their experiences within the employment, skills, justice and health sectors.

The key three issues raised during the conference were:

1. Integration – Bringing health, employment and skills together to produce a better set of outcomes for individuals, communities and the economy and to prevent people from falling through the service gap. Key Speaker Priti Patel MP, Minister of State for Employment stressed that the answer to getting those with health conditions into work was a combination of reforms to further integrate stakeholders, employers and providers, resulting in effective provision in order to secure employment outcomes with the power to transform people’s lives.

2. Devolution – Building upon the opportunity from the integration of support services and working with stakeholders and providers to develop new, more localised services to clients who have not been as well served by previous programmes whilst concentrating on sustainable growth, justice and inclusion. David Hughes, Chief Executive NIACE presented the opportunity that devolution offers in terms of rethinking the existing system in order to create a more personalised and localised approach.

3. Personalisation – Offering a more individualised service to help users think about their abilities and how they can contribute to their family, community and the economy, as well as getting the correct support to help them achieve better outcomes. Stephen Timms MP, Acting Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions highlighted the need, both morally and economically, to make sure that everybody is given opportunities in a way which is approachable and inclusive for them.

For further insight into the IntoWork Convention 2015, keep an eye out for Whitney’s blog detailing her experience of the event.