Minister for Employment and Learning Dr Stephen Farry, today announced the launch and procurement arrangements for a new employment programme developed by his Department.
The new programme, entitled Steps 2 Success (NI), is due to commence in June 2014. Steps 2 Success will replace the Steps to Work programme which will end next year when the contracts to deliver the current programme expire.
Dr Farry said: “The current programme, Steps to Work, has been in operation since 2008 and has served Northern Ireland well, as demonstrated through its independently assessed and verified performance results. While a strong programme, there are many new challenges and a next generation programme is essential.
“I am confident that in developing a replacement programme we are building on the strengths of Steps to Work. With the ongoing economic uncertainty it is important that we have in place a new employment programme which addresses the needs of those struggling to gain, or indeed regain, a foot on the employment ladder.”
The key aims of the Step 2 Success programme will be to:
• increase the number of participants finding and sustaining employment;
• support those most in need, regardless of employment barriers;
• maximise the flexibility in the programme approach; and
• build a programme that can adapt to changes in the economy and the needs of clients.
The Minister continued: “Steps 2 Success is also part of a wider package of help and assistance being developed across my Department’s Employment Service. Alongside the new programme, a more work-focused tailored service has been developed for all customers. This service improvement is being rolled out across the Jobs and Benefits office/JobCentre network to enhance and strengthen the help available to all customers who are seeking work.
“Jobseekers will continue to receive initial help and support from an Employment Service Adviser. These Advisers will deliver an enhanced front line service using diagnostic tools and support to help customers to find and sustain work at the earliest opportunity. There is a wide portfolio of provision which front line staff can avail of to support clients at the earliest stage to get back to work.”
Procurement of the contracts to deliver Steps 2 Success (NI) will be tendered in a two stage process commencing with a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire which will issue in early July 2013 with the second stage ‘Invitation to Tender’ planned for October 2013.
Information sessions to provide an overview of the final design of Steps 2 Success and the detail required for those who may wish to tender for the contracts will take place on Thursday 20 June and Monday 24 June 2013 at the Ramada Encore, St Anne’s Square, Belfast, between 9:30am and 1pm.
The Minister’s statement is available on www.delni.gov.uk/steps2success-ni-consultation
For further information on Steps 2 Success, please visit: www.delni.gov.uk/steps2success