The Chair of the Children and Learning Scrutiny Panel outlined the Panel's main findings, conclusions and recommendations following a scrutiny investigation of the topic of Employability Skills-From Care2Work Pathways for Children in Care.
The Board considered the following recommendations of the Panel based on evidence submitted and conclusions reached:-
(a) That the Pathways Team and the IYSS create an apprenticeship programme that builds on and develops the existing Employability Scheme. A menu of high quality opportunities must be developed, including: worksite visits, employment awareness sessions, pre-employment training, job shadowing, work tasters (1 or 2 days), work experience placements (1 to 6 weeks), traineeships and apprenticeships. Completion of NVQs levels 1-3, alongside apprenticeships, should be offered to cater for all academic abilities. Opportunities need to take into account both the support and learning needs of the group and differing levels of maturity, ability and attainment.
(b) That from Care2Work and the Pathways Team provide training and information sessions to Heads of Service and tiers of management to promote ongoing awareness of corporate responsibility and the need to create a wide range of employability opportunities for care leavers. Heads of Service and managers need to develop opportunities which inspire, raise expectations and take into account the support and learning needs of the group.
(c) That a dedicated IYSS Adviser be permanently located in the Pathways Team.
(d) That the Pathways Team further develop and enhance joint working protocols/agreements with nearby colleges and Teesside University.
(e) That the DWP and the Pathways Team establish a small working group with Social Workers, Work Programme providers and local voluntary organisations. The DWP to act as a gateway to support and training offered by such organisations.
(f) That links be established between DWP Advisers and Pathways Advisers and a regular information exchange takes place with regard to both individuals and care leavers as a group. The Pathways Team to forge closer links with the two DWP's Single Point of Contact (SPOCs) Advisers based at James Cook House and Thorntree House.
(g) That the IYSS conduct an investigation to review how Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) is currently being offered to children in care pre-16 and is monitored and shared with post -16 services. Adequate monitoring and tracking is required to ensure aspirations are supported and career plans built upon. The investigation must highlight priorities and areas for development.
(h) That the Council offer guaranteed interviews to all care leavers who meet the essential criteria for a job. When there are a high number of applicants the process would normally mean that desirable criteria would be taken into account -care leavers will be exempt from this.
(i) That the Pathways Team work alongside From Care2Work to engage with employers in the area. That an event be organised, whereby all large employers within the area are invited, to raise awareness of care leavers as a group and ask for their support in providing packages of employability support and opportunities for young people leaving care.
(j) That the impact of these recommendations, on reducing the number of NEETs, be reported to the Children and Learning Scrutiny Panel. With the implementation of these recommendations, the Scrutiny Panel expects a substantial reduction in the number of care leavers not in education, employment or training. For example, the Scrutiny Panel would expect to see a reduction of NEETs by 10%.
In commenting on the recommendations the Board suggested that consideration be given to indicating a date by which the Scrutiny Panel would expect a 10% reduction in NEETS as referred to in recommendation (j).
Members indicated that it was a comprehensive report and acknowledged the extent and appropriateness of the evidence sought. Reference was also made to beneficial work which had been generated as result of the scrutiny process thus demonstrating its positive impact.
An indication was also given of an update received by the Panel in respect of the review of Substance Misuse Among Parents and Carers with particular regard to the impact of the scrutiny process in respect of progress made with the implementation of a Joint Local Protocol to pursue a co-ordinated approach between all relevant agencies.
ORDERED that the findings and recommendations of the Children and Learning Scrutiny Panel be endorsed and referred to the Executive.