Outcomes Map: Employment and Training (UK)

NPC outcomes map - employmentThis is adapted from the NPC (UK) publication by Dawn Plimmer, February 2013: Version 1.0 visit NPC site to download PDF.

Key outcomes

  • Increased availability of and incentives for employment: more relevant jobs are available, and jobseekers have increased incentives to seek work (eg, will be/perception
    that will be better off in work than on benefits).
  • Jobseekers have improved skills and attitudes for employment: jobseekers are more likely to find and enter employment as a result of improved functional skills; interpersonal skills; motivation, attitudes and behaviours; and skills for finding work.
  • Jobseekers have improved occupation-specific skills and work experience: jobseekers are more likely to gain employment as a result of increasing their vocational
    skills, and attaining relevant work experience.
  • Increased numbers of jobseekers enter and sustain (quality) employment: more jobseekers enter paid work of a specified quality (wage, hours, contract type), and
    sustain work for a specified period.
  • Increased numbers of individuals that enter work are satisfied with their employment: people that enter work are satisfied with their job (security, rewards, and the job itself) and their ability to make choices in their employment situation, including prospects for advancement.

Related outcomes

  • Education, learning and skills
  • Personal and social wellbeing
  • Finance and legal matters

Vulnerable groups

There were 2.59 million unemployed people in the UK in July 2012 (an unemployment rate of 8.1%).7 Unemployment is often associated with wider disadvantages. Key factors which impact outcomes in this area include:

  • Educational attainment: Skill levels heavily impact upon employability: poor literacy, poor numeracy and low-level qualifications are associated with long-term unemployment. Fewer than half of those with no qualifications are in work, compared to nearly 90% of those with graduate-level qualifications. People with poor numeracy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as those who are competent at numeracy. Poor literacy skills can also be a serious barrier to progressing once in employment: 63% of men and 75% of women with very low literacy skills have never received a promotion.
  • Disability: Having a disability significantly affects an individual’s employment prospects. Only half of disabled people of working age are in work (50%), compared with 80% of non disabled people. The average gross hourly pay for disabled employees is £11.08 compared to £12.30 for non disabled employees. Employability is partly a result of educational attainment: 23% of disabled people have no qualifications compared to 9% of non disabled people. Types of disability are an important factor: only 20% of people with mental health problems are in employment.
  • Age: Young people have been particularly badly affected by the recession due to the reduced availability of jobs and cuts to spending on youth services, post-16 education and training alongside increased tuition fees. In the three months to July 2012 there were 1.02 million 16-24 year olds unemployed young people, an unemployment rate of 21.6%. Unemployment can have a significant impact upon later life chances, with young people experiencing lengthy spells of unemployment more likely to face unemployment and lower earnings a decade later.
  • Offending: Unemployed people are more likely to offend, and offenders (particularly those who have been in prison) are significantly more likely to be unemployed than the
    general population. 67% of offenders were unemployed at the time they were imprisoned. Qualifications are an important factor: 52% of male and 71% of female offenders have no qualifications.
  • Caring responsibilities: People with caring responsibilities have lower rates of employment and are likely to work fewer hours and earn less than average. Those that provide unpaid care for old or disabled people have a low rate of fulltime employment: 82% of male and just 39% of female unpaid carers are in full time employment. 315,000 carers aged 16 to 64 in England have left employment to provide unpaid care and remain out of employment. The total public expenditure costs of unpaid carers leaving employment is estimated at £1.3 billion per year based on the costs of Carer’s Allowance and reduced tax revenues due to lost earnings.
  • Homeless: Unemployment can be both a cause and consequence of homelessness. In 2005 Only 2% of homeless people are in full-time employment. 12% work part-time. 13% do voluntary work. 57% of homeless people have been unemployed for three years or more. With an employment rate of 15%, homeless people are five times less likely than the wider population to be in employment. The vast majority of homeless people want to work either now (77%) or in the future (97%).
  • Geography: Unemployment rates vary considerably within the UK. Regionally, employment rates are highest in the East and South East of England (74.9%), and lowest in the North East (66.6%).

Examples of typical interventions

Charities deliver a number of different interventions to enhance people’s employability and support people to find, enter and sustain work depending on the needs of the target group. Typical interventions include:

  • Generic welfare-to-work support: charities such as the Careers Development Group (CDG) and Tomorrow’s People deliver support to help jobseekers of all types into work. They are typically funded to deliver services through government contracts such as the Work Programme. Employment advisors work with jobseekers to diagnose barriers to work and identify support needs which may include improving basic skills and job search skills, and overcoming personal barriers such as access to childcare and improving motivation. Where specialist support is needed, for example, helping drug users or those with severe disabilities, jobseekers are referred to specialist support providers.
  • Specialist welfare-to-work support: some charities provide employability support specifically targeted at a certain disadvantaged group. They use specialist knowledge and skills to tackle barriers to work. For example, EmployAbility promotes access to employment for people with disabilities, and St Giles Trust helps ex-offenders into work. They support individuals to overcome barriers to work, and identify suitable employment opportunities.
  • On-the-job support: particularly for disadvantaged groups, some charities provide on-the-job support to help those that have found work to remain in employment and tackle barriers as they arise. For example, Reach Skills matches people who have not been in employment for a long time with volunteers who provide independent advice and support.
  • Skill development: some charities such as Groundwork and Community Links focus on developing people’s skills and employability as part of a wider mission to tackle poverty and improve communities.
  • Support for young people (preventing NEET): promoting employability forms a key part of the work of many charities that support disadvantaged young people. For example, City Gateway support young people to access apprenticeships and vocational employment through helping individuals to gain qualifications, training and work placements.
  • Advocacy: charities also play a key role in campaigning to raise awareness of issues facing certain disadvantaged groups in finding and sustaining work. For example, Stand to Reason campaigns and advises on how to manage mental health issues in the workplace.

Current approaches to measurement

Employment statistics

A number of key employability statistics are measured according to international guidelines specified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

  • Employment is measured as ‘the number of people in employment … aged 16 and over who did paid work (as an employee or self-employed), those who had a job that they were temporarily away from, those on government-supported training and employment programmes, and those doing unpaid family work.’
  • Unemployed people are ‘without a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks or; out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks.’
  • Economically inactive people ‘are not in work and do not meet the internationally agreed definition of unemployment. They are people without a job who have not actively sought work in the last four weeks and/or are not available to start work in the next two weeks.’

Measures of employment and sustained employment
DWP use a number of definitions to define entry into employment and its sustainability for the purpose of triggering payments to providers. A job start is defined as the date that a participant starts a job that takes them off benefit, and a job outcome as a continuous of cumulative period of employment as defined for each claimant group. Incentive payments are also made to providers who convert a higher than expected rate of referrals into job outcomes. This is based on the number of job outcomes that would be expected to occur in the absence of the Work Programme, calculated through analysis of historical job entry rates.

Measures of employee and employment quality
The UK Commission on Employment and Skills (UKCES) surveys employers on the availability and quality of labour supply through two major employer surveys conducted on a biennial basis. The UK Employer Skills Survey examines training and staff development, vacancies unfilled because of skills shortages, gaps in employees’ skills, recruitment of education leavers, and a host of other measures to provide a comprehensive and robust picture of skills needs and training investment in UK business. The UK Employer Perspectives Survey gains the views of employers on the employment and skills system.

Feedback from employees on the quality of their employment is gathered by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) through the Workplace Employee Relations Survey (conducted five times since 1980), including on job characteristics and satisfaction of people in work. Overall job satisfaction is also measured in the annual
Understanding Society survey.

Measures of individual employability
Qualifications in academic and vocational subjects, as well as basic skills, are standard accredited tools used as indicators of employability. However, qualifications are not
robust measures of distance travelled to employment as candidates may already have had the skills/knowledge accredited by the qualification prior to commencing the course.
Beyond qualifications there is little standardised measurement of wider capabilities and barriers to work.

As so many interacting factors impact upon employability it is difficult to map a linear path of causal factors, and to measure progress towards employment. Payment by results
contracts such as the Work Programme pay on job entry, rather than on ‘distance travelled’ by a jobseeker. This is problematic for some charities, as they typically support the most vulnerable groups who are furthest from the labour market.
Charities tend to develop bespoke internal systems of measurement, and often for programme management and customer needs assessment, rather than impact measurement purposes. One of the most widely used standardised tools is the Work Star—an outcomes star which tracks perceptions of the distance travelled by a jobseeker. Case workers assess jobseekers against a 1 to 10 scale to diagnose needs and track progress in seven areas: challenges, job-specific skills, job-search skills, basic skills, aspiration and
motivation, social skills for work. While the star is a useful case worker tool, it does not provide an objective measure of change and is not suited to evaluation purposes.25
Some attempts have been made to measure distance travelled in government welfare-to-work programmes. The DWP piloted a scheme to measure distance travelled by
disabled people towards employment for its Workstep programme.26 All measures were based on support worker judgements of jobseeker progress in 21 behaviours/indicators
against five levels of monitoring categories (1: individual lacks appropriate level of competence-5: individual routinely demonstrates appropriate level of competence). This system has been abandoned—the current Work Choice programme requires providers to evidence distance travelled by jobseekers, but allows providers to develop their own bespoke systems for measuring this.

The European Social Fund gives some recognition of distance travelled, with payments triggered for job-search activity and completion of qualifications and training, as well as entry into employment.

In compiling this overview, we identified particular gaps in measurement of job-search skills , and the impact of employment on financial security and quality of life.

NPC is currently working on developing shared approaches to impact measurement as part of the Inspiring Impact programme. This includes a project to develop a shared outcomes framework and tools which will allow charities that work in the field of young people’s employability to track ‘distance travelled’ by young people towards employment, including in soft skills.


Employment is the state of having paid work. A person’s ability to gain and sustain fulfilling work is known as employability, which is the focus of this overview. There are four commonly identified elements of employability:

  1. an individual’s ability to get a job;
  2. their subsequent ability to retain employment;
  3. their ability to make choices in their employment situation (ie, ability to obtain new employment when required/desired);
  4. the quality of work (ie, skill level, pay and job satisfaction).

The ability to achieve these outcomes is influenced by a number of external and internal factors. Macro-economic and political factors are a major determinant of an individual’s ability to find and retain quality employment as they influence the demand for labour from employers, and consequently the availability of work. External factors also impact incentives for employment, eg, government policy on welfare benefits can influence an individual’s willingness to seek work.

On an individual level, there are a number of, often interlinked, skills and capabilities that impact upon employability. Employability skills, the ‘skills almost everyone needs to do almost any job’, includes general skills and characteristics such as functional skills (numeracy, literacy and IT skills), interpersonal skills (eg, communication and relationship building), self-esteem and motivation. Factors specifically relating to employment include attitudes to work, skills for finding work (job-search skills and presentation of skills to employers), and occupation-specific skills and work experience. Personal circumstances such as disability, caring responsibilities and access to transport also impacts upon an individual’s ability and willingness to work.

For the purpose of this overview, employability is used to refer to the availability of relevant work, and the skills and capabilities specifically related to finding and staying in fulfilling work. It does not include general academic education and qualifications (covered in the education framework), general personal and social wellbeing eg, self-esteem and motivation (covered in the well being framework), or wider barriers to work such as caring responsibilities, disability and health which are covered in other frameworks.


Government programmes
Getting people into employment is a major government objective in order to reduce poverty, promote wellbeing and boost economic growth (by reducing benefit payments and increasing tax revenues). The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is the government department with primary responsibility for helping people into employment. The Work Programme is the main scheme through which the DWP supports people to find and stay in work. This caters for client groups of varying distance from the labour market, from those receiving jobseekers allowance, to those facing more severe barriers to work such as people with disabilities, and prison leavers. The point at which an individual is eligible for entry onto the Work Programme, and the value of payments for providers is dependent on the client group to which an individual belongs, with earlier entry and higher payments for the most disadvantaged. Providers are paid based on results—getting people into sustained employment. There are no payments based on ‘distance travelled’ to employment or the ‘quality’ of employment an individual gains.

Payments to providers are triggered on the following outcomes:

  • Attachment: when a provider engages with a jobseeker.
  • Job outcome: when a client has been in a job for a specified number of weeks (eg, 26 weeks for JSA 18-24 and 25+, 13 weeks for those on Employment and Support Allowance).
  • Sustainment outcome: paid for number of weeks in continuous employment (eg, for JSA 18-24 year olds up to a maximum of 13 of these payments are made for every four weeks in continuous employment from week 30 onwards, and for those on Employment and Support Allowance, a maximum of 20 payments for every four weeks in continuous employment from week 17 onwards).
  • Conversion rate: incentive payments are made based on the conversion rate of referrals to job outcomes.

Alongside the Work Programme, DWP funds a number of other schemes to promote employability. The Work Choice programme supports disabled people with the most complex and long term barriers to find work. Providers are paid a 70% service fee when an individual starts on Work Choice, with a further 15% paid if the customer progresses into supported employment, and a further 15% if they progress into unsupported employment.

To support disadvantaged young people and those at risk of disadvantage to develop their employability, DWP launched a £30 million social investment ‘Innovation Fund’ in 2012 . For younger age groups, the Innovation Fund has some focus on soft outcomes, rewarding improved behaviour at school. For 18-24 year olds, payment triggers relate to hard outcomes only, such as completion of training and vocational qualifications; entry into further education; and entry into first employment of 16 hours or more per week for 13
continuous weeks.

For young people aged 18-24, as well as being eligible for the Work Programme, DWP runs the £1 billion Youth Contract to provide new work opportunities, including
apprenticeships and work experience placements.

The European Social Fund (ESF) aims to improve employment opportunities in the European Union, helping people fulfil their potential by giving them better skills and better job prospects. The 2007-2013 England ESF programme is investing £5 billion to support the employability work of the government departments DWP, Skills Funding Agency and National Offender Management Service.

The ESF funding has four main priority outcomes, targeted at all ages from 14 upwards:

  • Extending employment opportunities
  • Developing a skilled and adaptable workforce
  • Tackling barriers to employment
  • Improving the skills of the local workforce

Each of these outcomes has a detailed framework of target outputs and results. Outputs include the number of participants engaged from priority groups, including those facing
specific barriers and practical issues, eg, participants who receive support with caring responsibilities. Results include job entry, and sustainment for six months after leaving the programme, plus ‘distance travelled’ measures such as the proportion of economically inactive participants engaged in job search activity or further learning upon leaving; and the number and percentage who gain basic skills, qualifications and undertake further education or training.

Role of the charity sector

Charities are involved in promoting employability in two main ways: helping people to improve their basic skills and address personal issues that may be barriers to work, and directly helping people to enter and sustain employment.

Government welfare-to-work schemes are the primary source of funding for charities that directly support people into employment. Charities are involved in the Work Programme,
but the large size of Work Programme prime contracts and accompanying large financial requirements and high levels of risk poses barriers to charity involvement—only two of
the 18 prime providers are charities. Charities are mainly involved as subcontractors, particularly in provision of specialist support for disadvantaged groups, but payment by
results mechanisms preclude the involvement of those organisations that do not have sufficient upfront finance to support cash flow.

Charities also play an important role in promoting skill development to support entry into quality work, rather than just job placement. These include charities that work with young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) or at risk of becoming NEET by helping to tackle risk factors (eg, offending, truancy, drug and alcohol use) and promote strong foundations for work (eg, educational attainment, self-esteem, team work). For unemployed adults, charities provide range of services from promoting basic skills, to tackling specific barriers such as homelessness, drug abuse and mental health problems.

Where did this come from?

This is one of 13 outcomes maps produced by NPC in partnership with the SROI Network, investing for Good and Big Society Capital. Each map examines a particular issue area or domain, and aims to document the relevant outcomes and indicators that are currently being measured by charities, government, academics and practitioners working in this field. This map is not intended to be prescriptive about what you should measure; instead it aims to be a starting point for social investors, funders, charities and social enterprises thinking about measuring outcomes in this domain. Neither is it intended to be definitive or comprehensive: we plan to develop the maps further in future as we learn more about measurement practice in this area. If you have any feedback or suggestions for how we could do this, please get in touch with Tris Lumley at NPC by emailing tris.lumley@thinkNPC.org.


Outcomes maps in this series

Housing and essential needs
Education and learning
Employment and training
Physical health
Substance use and addiction
Mental health
Personal and social well-being
Politics, influence and participation
Finance and legal matters
Arts and culture
Crime and public safety
Local area and getting around
Conservation of the natural environment and climate change

 Key sources

  • Hillage, J. and Pollard, E. (1998) Employability: developing a framework for policy analysis. Department for Education and Employment Research Report 85.
    International Labour Organisation
  • Klein, C., DeRouin, R. E., & Salas, E. (2006). ‘Uncovering workplace interpersonal skills: A review, framework, and research agenda.’ In G. P. Hodgkinson & J. K. Ford (Eds.), International review of industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 21, pp. 80-126). New York: Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  • McQuaid, R.W. & Lindsay, C. (2005) ‘The Concept of Employability,’ Urban Studies, vol. 42 (2), pp. 197-219.
  • ONS Labour market statistics- employment rate
  • Labour Force Survey
  • UKCES (2009) The Employability Challenge.
  • UK National Statistics: Labour Market

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