Ofsted: business links key to finding jobs for disabled

    Ofsted has urged employment support providers for disabled people to forge close links with businesses and use clearer long-term planning to help their clients into jobs, in a report today.

    The report found the best Workstep programmes had clear expectations for their clients’ route into employment. The best schemes also engaged local businesses and matched people’s skills to available jobs.

    Workstep schemes aim to help disabled people overcome barriers to employment.

    Ofsted, which visited 21 providers, including 12 local authorities, also found that it was necessary for schemes to work with several agencies such as healthcare professionals and vocational training organisations to succeed.

    However, awareness of the Workstep programme throughout local authorities was found to be poor, with few council departments offering placement opportunities to clients. The report said Workstep was often not included in local economic development plans.

    The report recommended that the Department for Work and Pensions, which funds Workstep, should ensure contracts are managed more flexibly, as providers reported that in some cases the narrow interpretation of the funding model was preventing them from working with certain groups.

    Workstep replaced the sheltered employment programme in April 2001.

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