The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed it hit its target of hiring 13,500 extra work coaches to help job-seekers back into work after the shock dealt to the nation’s economy by the coronavirus pandemic.
Back in July chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the government’s Plan for Jobs, which included nearly £900m in funding for DWP to recruit the additional work coaches and “double the number of work coaches to 27,000” by the end of March.
Earlier this week DWP said the additional coaches were now in post after what it described as “one of the fastest-ever government recruitment rounds”. But the department said it would not be able to confirm that its complement of work coaches had actually doubled to 27,000 until full headcount figures for March were available.
Dubbed the department’s “jobs army” by work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey, coaches provide tailored support to help people looking for new opportunities to build their skills, develop CVs and find jobs in expanding sectors.
“Every jobseeker in the country will have the help they need, whatever their circumstances,” she said.
Sunak said DWP’s work coaches were “incredible” and that he had met many of them this year and witnessed the “integral role” they play delivering the government’s Plan for Jobs.
Last week DWP confirmed the location of 80 new temporary jobcentres, where some of the recently-recruited work coaches will be based. More temporary jobcentres are expected to be opened in future waves.
Data from the Office for National Statistics published last week found that 693,000 fewer people were in “payrolled employment” in February 2021 compared with the same month last year.
The UK unemployment rate in the three months to January 2021 was 5.0%, 1.5 percentage points lower than the year before and 0.3 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.
The ONS said an estimated 1.70 million people were unemployed in the three months from November 2020 to January 2021, up by 360,000 on the previous year and up 11,000 on the previous quarter.