According to the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the latest official labour market data shows that “in September to November of 2020 unemployment hit 5 per cent, with redundancies at a record high of 395,000”. While the government’s Job Retention Scheme has no doubt helped many businesses and other organisations that may otherwise have made even more jobs redundant, there is significant uncertainty over what the future may hold.
As creators of the Outcomes Star, Triangle works with many of the organisations that provide front-line employability services, particularly those whose services focus on more vulnerable individuals and groups. People who are unemployed and struggling with issues such as mental illness, addiction or homelessness face significant challenges with finding employment at the best of times; now their prospects of finding meaningful work may seem more remote. Others may have recently found themselves facing family difficulties, trauma or other complex issues as a result of the pandemic that create barriers to finding employment.
It is widely reported that already disadvantaged groups have generally fared worse than others over the last year, exacerbating already existing inequalities. For example, ERSA reports that “disabled jobseekers are now more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people” and that “the UK jobless rate for young black people has also risen by more than a third, to 35 per cent” over the past year.
In 2021 there is a significant need for traditional forms of employment support to help those people who have recently become unemployed or who face the risk of redundancy. However, we must also ensure that the longer term unemployed are not overlooked in the process. There is a need for holistic, person-centred services that engage with the range of complex, and often related, issues that are the underlying reason why an individual may be unemployed. These innovative programmes offer bespoke one-to-one help for people with complex needs, focusing on helping individuals to overcome the specific challenges they face. This is where the popular Outcomes Star can be most useful.
Employment support services have been using the Work Star for many years to support people to return to work or to find a job for the first time. The original Work Star was developed with service providers and commissioners from Camden, Islington and Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council. Now in its 3rd edition, the Work Star covers the traditional areas of employment support – skills and experience, aspiration and motivation, job search skills and the like, but also has two areas for drilling down into the person’s context – their health and well-being and the level of stability they have in their life. The current version was published in 2017 with input from the Department of Work and Pensions, Prospects, Hounslow Council and The LightBulb.
Launched in late 2019, the Pathway Star was developed by Triangle with service providers and commissioners from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as part of its Households Into Work (HIW) programme; a unique and innovative programme of support for people who, because of their circumstances, have difficulty finding and sustaining employment.
The Pathway Star is designed for use with people who need considerable support if they are to move towards work. It is an outcomes tool that helps guide keywork and conversations, with the focus on helping people move towards work rather than necessarily finding a job. It’s structured around the individual and the barriers they face to employment – things like stability at home, household finances, family and relationships and emotional well-being.
For service users, working with either the Work Star or the Pathway Star, seeing their situation and their progress in a simple visual form can be powerful. “I got a surprise regarding my progress over the last few months,” said one person on the HIW pilot. “I’m pleased I’ve got some change in my life where I wanted help.”
For managers and commissioners of employability services, there are additional benefits in the form of the management information that these tools provide. Using the Outcomes Star can provide organisations with a unique and valuable data set around meaningful outcomes for service users and the progress they have made. Analysing and evaluating the holistic dataset collected by the Outcomes Star can be useful in a number of ways:
- Demonstrating and evidencing the impact of services to a range of stakeholders
- Learning about what is working well and what can be improved for the future
- Providing motivation for service users and for staff by highlighting the change that has been achieved
Ultimately, though, the most significant benefit of implementing the Outcomes Star may be the change that this encourages towards more of an enabling approach to service delivery. Employability services that focus on a strengths-based, holistic and person-centred way of working enable individual service users to focus on the outcomes that they to wish to achieve.
If you have any questions or queries about the Work Star or Pathway Star, or you would just like find out more about how the Stars can support your service users, keyworkers and organisation, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.