When the New Deal for Skills (NDfS) was announced in 2004, amongst the specific measures proposed were the development of a Skills Coaching service and the introduction of Skills Passports. The key objective of the proposed Skills Coaching service was to add value to existing Jobcentre Plus support for customers. It was to help individuals find the most effective route to improved employability. Trials of Skills Coaching and Skills Passports commenced in April 2005 in eight Jobcentre Plus districts. The Institute for Employment Research was commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), on behalf of its partners the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and the national Learning and Skills Council (LSC), to undertake the evaluation of the Skills Coaching trials. The key aims of the evaluation were to assess the costs and demand for Skills Coaching, to assess the effectiveness of Skills Coaching in raising individual levels of employability and to inform the design of any possible future national roll-out of the Skills Coaching service.
The evaluation consisted of two main elements. First, qualitative interviews were conducted with Skills Coaching customers, Jobcentre Plus Advisers, Skills Coaches, nextstep Advisers and training providers on two occasions (at the six month and 10 month points of the trials). Second, quantitative analysis of the demand for Skills Coaching, the volume and characteristics of participants, the types of services received, and outcomes was conducted using data from the Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System (LMS) and the LSC Management Information (MI) system.
The evaluation consisted of two main elements:
- qualitative interviews were conducted with Skills Coaching customers, Jobcentre Plus Advisers, Skills Coaches, nextstep Advisers and training providers at the six month and ten month points of the trials
- quantitative analysis of the demand for Skills Coaching, the volume and characteristics of participants, the types of services received, and outcomes was conducted using data from the Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System and the LSC Management Information system
The evaluation provided a comprehensive assessment of the implementation, delivery and impact of the Skills Coaching initiative reporting on the first 12 months of operation. A key finding was that the initiative had provided a service that had been enthusiastically received by all involved. Skills Coaching appeared to have offered something in addition to existing support for benefit claimants. This was the case in both qualitative terms – Skills Coaching appeared to fit customer need and Coaches appeared genuinely interested in supporting their customers – and quantitative terms in the sense of more regular, and in-depth, contact with a professional adviser, together with access to a greater number of learning opportunities.
Hasluck, C. and Bimrose, J. with Barnes, S-A., Brown, J., Marris, L., McGivern, G., Orton, M. & White, R. (2006). Evaluation of Skills Coaching Trials and Skills Passports - A Synthesis of Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence. (Research Report no 391). Leeds: Department for Work and Pensions / Corporate Document Services.