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Personalisation at the front line: looking within the work-focused interview

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Publication details

Title of host publicationNow It's Personal: Learning from welfare-to-work approaches around the world
DatePublished - 2010
Pagespp.11-12
Number of pages2
PublisherInstitute for Public Policy Research
Place of PublicationLondon
EditorsD Ben-Galim, A Sachrajda
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Greater personalisation in the delivery of welfare-to-work services has been a familiar policy goal of the UK's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a number of years and looks certain to continue under the new coalition government. The coalition's flagship welfare-to-work policy, the unified Work Programme, will replace the numerous welfare-to-work schemes introduced by Labour. In a pre-election policy paper the Conservative Party promised that, 'through the Work Programme, we will offer people targeted, personalised help...' (Conservative Party 2009). So, personalisation is here to stay as a high-level policy aim.

At ground level, though, the site in which personalisation is played out for most claimants and clients is the work-focused interview with a member of staff of Jobcentre Plus (JCP) or an external employment provider. A recent study carried out by the University of York has afforded a rare opportunity of exploring personalisation from a wholly new perspective, that is from within the interview itself. In 2009 a research team was able to video-record over 180 work-focused interviews in JCP and Employment Zone offices to produce a unique dataset for analysis. The study covered lone parents, claimants of Incapacity Benefit and claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance.

The overall aims of this study were to contribute to the evidence base on what actually takes place in work-focused interviews. By applying the analytic techniques of conversation analysis the research team sought to identify techniques and styles used by advisers during work-focused interviews that seemed to be most effective in moving people closer to work. Moving closer to work does not necessarily mean actually getting a job, but refers to any step that results, for example, in a more positive attitude towards work, or provides useful and relevant information to a claimant, or refers a claimant to an outside agency providing help such as training or work experience.

The focus of this short essay is on two findings that have a bearing on how the personalisation of adviser-client interactions might be enhanced in the UK.

    Research areas

  • employment/benefits, social exclusion, income, poverty, research methodologies

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