The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills jointly commissioned research to investigate a series of skills policy changes introduced from August 2011. The research, commissioned in September 2011, comprised two waves of qualitative research. The first wave took place between November 2011 and January 2012 with a follow up wave between March and May 2012. Fieldwork took place in five Jobcentre Plus districts, one per English region. Each wave included interviews with staff from Jobcentres and National Career Service, skills providers, Skills Funding Agency, claimants as well as national and local level stakeholders.
The Coalition Government launched its skills strategy, ‘Skills for Sustainable Growth’  and ‘Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth’  in a context of fiscal deficit reduction and a drive to decentralise the delivery of public services. These documents signalled a significant change to the delivery of employment and skills, by promoting shared responsibility and partnership working. Employers would have a central role in working with colleges and universities to deliver internships, work experience and integrated work place training.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), training providers and National Careers Service were also expected to work more collaboratively to meet local skills and employment needs, building on previous initiatives to create a more integrated employment and skills system.
In response to the findings, a review of the Skills Conditionality process commenced in May 2012. The review concluded that the Skills Conditionality process could be streamlined to improve delivery. Actions taken after the review included revising and reissuing guidance to Jobcentre Advisors. There was also a re-launch with Jobcentres in October 2012 including sharing good practice, fact sheets, bulletins, news alerts and local awareness sessions. The Department is now working to determine the impact of the recommendations and of the new guidance.
DWP’s policy remains that JSA and ESA WRAG claimants, for whom a lack of skills has been identified as the main barrier to finding work, should be mandated to attend appropriate support to address the lack of skills. This can include interviews with the National Careers Service in England, skills training in England and Scotland, and Skills for Work (Wales) training in Wales.
National statistics relating to skills conditionality are published and can be found here: statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/pwp/mwa_aug12.pdf
URN 10/1274 Skills for Sustainable Growth, Full Report: www.bis.gov.uk/assets/BISCore/further-education-skills/docs/S/10-1274-skills-for-sustainable-growth-strategy.pdf
URN 10/1272 Investing in Skills for Sustainable Growth, Strategy Document: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/32366/10-1272-strategy-investing-in-skills-for-sustainable-growth.pdf