Lack of skills is keeping people jobless

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ONE in two Wiganers attending a flagship back-to-work programme have insufficient literacy and numeracy skills to gain a job, and 21 per cent have three or more major barriers to employment.

These shocking figures were revealed in a report compiled by the Work Programme, a government-backed scheme designed to help the long-term unemployed find sustainable work.

Of those attending the scheme in Wigan, one in five are suffering mental health issues, while 19 per cent have debt issues.

Another 15 per cent of those on the programme are unable to find work due to unsuitable housing or childcare arrangements.

Only 23 per cent of those attending the work programme do not have any barriers to finding sustained employment. More than 44 per cent have two or more barriers in their way to finding a job.

In a report to Wigan Council, head of service Carol Halford said: “It is evident that being unemployed can be a symptom of many other deep-rooted issues that face individuals and families in these very trying times.

“A high percentage of our clients have mental health issues, but the biggest problem by far is a lack of literacy and numeracy skills.

“We are running Skills for Life courses to give people confidence in these areas.”

The Work Programme has adopted a ‘traffic light’ system to ensure people receive appropriate support, with unemployed clients being graded red, amber or green on a scale of readiness for work.

The programme is also working with outside partnerships, including health trainers and the Credit Union, to tackle problems preventing people finding work.

Employability courses are also in place to help people get to grips with skills such as CV writing and job searching techniques.

A self-management programme, prepared in partnership with the Primary Care Trust, will be launched later this year, in a bid to help more people to get into work.