Group 6 Item 5 Vocational training: Employment Zones: principal features
For the unemployed person, the incentive is access to a broad range of specialist advice, guidance, mentoring and other support, together with a Personal Job Account and some vocational training. This is an account set up and administered by the Employment Zone service provider.
The participant can draw on it under the guidance of a personal adviser to purchase whatever services will best promote the long-term goal of regular employment. Each account contains an equivalent sum to that which would have been paid to the individual in benefits, job search and training provision under other programmes.
Each Employment Zone (EZ) is free to pursue objectives in its own way. However, certain features of the programme are common to all providers. Under the First Step, which for each participant can last up to 13 weeks from their start on the scheme, the contractor is obliged to appoint a personal adviser to offer support and advice, diagnose obstacles to employment and agree an action plan with the participant. Unless the participant obtains a job in the meantime, he or she then moves on to the Second Step.
The Second Step can last anything up to 26 weeks. During this time the participant no longer signs on at the Jobcentre or receives full Jobseeker’s Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions. Instead the Personal Job Account comes into play and, in accordance with the action plan devised under the First Step, the personal job adviser helps the participant to spend this money and receive whatever services might be required to most effectively promote the goal of regular employment.
As a minimum each Personal Job Account must contain a subsistence element equivalent to the participant’s benefit entitlement.
There may sometimes be a Third Step, offering a comprehensive aftercare service to participants once they have found work.