JETS: the successful quick fix with long term benefits

27 Apr 2023
As the Government’s Job Entry Targeted Support programme ends, Julie Graham, CEO of Ingeus’s employment services, looks back on a job well done.

Launched at pace in the middle of a pandemic that decimated business sectors and left hundreds of thousands of people out of work, it would have been easy to think Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) programme would, at best, struggle to make headway against these seemingly overwhelming odds.

JETS was introduced in October 2020, initially for a year but then extended to March 2023, with a view to getting people who had lost their jobs due to COVID 19 back into work as quickly as possible.

JETS was delivered by existing government Work and Health Programme providers, which meant the infrastructure existed to mobilise quickly. It allowed for rapid response so that participants could receive vital support during a time of great uncertainty. 

Ingeus was one of the prime providers entrusted with the task. JETS ended in April, and can now look back with a great deal of satisfaction, and a big dose of pride, at a job well done by the employability sector.

Ingeus supported more than 66,000 JETS participants, helping at least 33,000 back into work with jobs from construction to the performing arts, retail, and care roles. 

In every region in which we delivered JETS, we consistently outperformed target, with our North West contract frequently topping Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) league tables for outcomes. 

Central to this achievement has been our teams and partners, despite many of them being affected by the pandemic and its lockdowns in just the same way as the people they were helping. Alongside colleagues experienced in supporting jobseekers, and with in-depth knowledge of local jobs markets and contacts with employers, we recruited a raft of new employment coaches. 

We deliberately hired people from outside the employment support sector, instead taking on people from other working backgrounds to bring fresh insights and their own experiences of unemployment or exploring new work avenues. It not only helped build rapport with participants, but the legacy benefit has been a new pool of talented coaches whose skills have been honed in the pressure cooker that JETS created.

Evidence of how our advisors have stepped up to the plate comes with recognition from DWP of the work of our Clare Dennon, who was presented with the JETS Advisor Award at a recent ceremony marking the end of the scheme.

For the jobseekers themselves, many of whom found themselves out of work for the first time and unable to ‘knock on doors’ to find fresh employment, I have huge admiration. With our support, they understood the transferrable skills they already had and how these would help them apply for roles they may not have previously considered. An example was Laura Suddens from Cumbria who swapped engineering for HR and was Highly Commended by the DWP in its JETS Participant Switch Award category.

Our partners, from training providers to housing associations and self-employment specialists, played a key role. Our work with one of them, The Better Health Generation, earned us another DWP award. In all we used 101 different skills providers to offer free training to JETS participants.

Our thanks also go to every employer that gave us an insight to their industry or organisation, provided feedback to candidates, or was quick to take on our JETS participants.

So yes, from that daunting start I’d say, together, we made JETS work for those people going through the most turbulent changes since the Second World War. 

But while the programme has now ended, it has left a legacy that will benefit jobseekers, and other participants, well into the future.

One part being the Money Management service, set up at the start of lockdown in conjunction with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, to offer monetary advice such as budgeting and how to deal with debt to JETS participants. It has proved so successful that it has now been introduced across our UK operation to support all of programmes and even to our business in Australia.

A valuable lesson, and one shared by all JETS providers, has been recognition of the importance of being able to support participants who had only been out of work for a short time – unique for an employability programme. It meant we were able to help people much sooner into their unemployment than previous contracts, before longer-term barriers to finding work had formed.

We’ve learned, too, that remote support DOES work! Or, more accurately, a blend of remote and face-to-face interaction. Phone calls, video chats, text groups, webinars, online platforms and mental health advice meant more people could access our help, especially those with caring responsibilities or other issues. 

JETS rocketed the employability sector into the public spotlight. Of course, that has brought its criticisms, but as the last participants embark on new careers I think Ingeus, and all the other providers, can feel satisfied that we stepped up to the mark with professionalism, innovation and empathy. 

The pandemic saw many workers labelled, rightly, as heroes. In my opinion those who overcame their own Covid setbacks to help thousands of people recover from the worrying prospect of long-term unemployment, deserve that same epitaph.

And I believe those jobseekers, who learned valuable skills, had their confidence restored and had their eyes
opened to new opportunities, would agree.

You can read the full story of Ingeus’ delivery of JETS here.

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