Training programmes fail to boost earnings

April 12, 1996

Government training programmes have proved successful in helping the unemployed back to work but have done little to improve their earning power, according to a new study for the Department for Education and Employment.

An evaluation of the Employment Training and Employment Action schemes, by the Policy Studies Institute and Nuffield College, Oxford, shows that programme participants significantly improved their chances of securing full-time work compared to the study's non-participant control group.

In the case of Employment Training - a programme of training and work experience for adult long-term unemployed - the probability of getting a job, a year after initially becoming unemployed, increased by 3 per cent. This increased to 15 per cent after two years and 22 per cent after three for those on the programme.

Employment Action, a smaller scheme offering work placements in the voluntary sector, actually reduced the chances of gaining a job a year after becoming unemployed. But by three years after the start of a spell of unemployment the probability of getting a job had increased by 4 per cent again.

The greater effect of ET on job chances was attributed largely to the fact that the programme offered much greater opportunities than EA for placements with commercial employers and for gaining formal qualifications.

The study reveals, however, that the programmes had little or no effect upon levels of pay except for those who had been through some form of off-job, directed training who earned 6 per cent more, on average, in the first year after the programmes ended. This advantage disappeared within a year.

The evaluation was carried out by Joan Payne, Stephen Lissenburgh and Michael White all of the Policy Studies Institute and Clive Payne of Nuffield College, Oxford. The control group was matched to the participating groups by geographical location, gender, age and period of employment.

The ET and EA groups had poorer employment records on average than the control group though they did tend to have better educational qualifications. Both the ET and EA programmes were replaced in 1993 by Training for Work.

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