Funding for the instrument has ceased, after a full and comprehensive evaluation.
Links policies towards the people furthest from the labour market to areas with skills shortages.
Improving employability of the long-term unemployed. Momentum consists of a number of projects aimed at improving the employability of individuals who are long-term unemployed. Participants receive training in areas with recognised skill shortages, where existing vacancies have been identified. The projects include an element of on-the job training in the form of work experience modules, as well as development of the skills required to obtain and retain employment. Momentum will also include projects specifically aimed at individuals aged under 25 who are long-term unemployed.
The training offered is designed by providers to meet the established labour market needs of the time, and places a premium on helping participants who are furthest from the labour market. The support offered to address skills mismatch is: expert career guidance for participants, job preparation skills training, work placements where participants are in close contact with their employer (SMEs are targeted), and support on sustainable employment.
Aim of policy instrument
Main responsible body
SOLAS, the agency responsible for Further Education and Training, which is the responsibility of the Department for Education and Skills.
Momentum was administered by SOLAS on behalf of the Department of Education & Skills, who funded it through the Labour Market Education & Training Fund (LMETF). Access to Momentum courses was through the Department of Social Protection Intreo Centres, Employment Services offices or Local Employment Services offices only.
The total investment for the Momentum project is €20,000,000, of which the EU’s European Social Fund contributed €10,000,000 from the Operational Programme “Human Capital Investment” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.
The programme funds the provision of free education and training projects to allow 6,500 long-term unemployed (who are unemployed for 12 months or more) to gain skills and to access work opportunities in identified growing sectors.
Use of labour market intelligence
Occupational theme clusters were identified in response to LMSI trends at the time. These clusters were: 1. ICT, Digital Media, Gaming, and Telecommunications; 2. Transport, Distribution and Logistics, Sales and Marketing; 3. Health Care, Social Services, Manufacturing, Natural Resource Energy Conservation, Food Production and Processing; and 4. Under 25’s Individual Needs, Placement, Progression and Employment. In targeting these specific areas, the policy goal was achieved through clear, explicit focus on its target goals and cohort.
The training offers outcome-based payments to employers. Only when verified by data, would the following be paid for under the programme: recruitment, training, placements, support and outcomes. This promotes success, and ties expenditure to successful outcomes in order to provide 'value for money' through investment. For Participants on Momentum projects, they will continue to receive: their weekly Social Welfare payment from the Department of Social Protection, this incudes payment for any Qualified Adults and Child Dependants (subject to meeting all existing relevant qualification criteria), any payment of Rent Supplement or Mortgage Interest Supplement they were entitled to before starting on the Momentum initiative. However, participants will not receive any additional payment while participating on the Momentum project.
Frequency of updates
Due to the flexible design of the approach, it was the providers who adapted rather than the instrument itself. For example, the model underestimated the level of in-programme support and post-programme support required by participants, but it was the providers who demonstrated resourcefulness in adapting to this challenge, rather than the instrument. However, the robust data generated at each stage of implementation allowed for any issues to be flagged, which could then inform the providers' actions.
One barrier is the high drop-out rate of participants. From the 6,574 starters, 5,894 were present in the 3rd week of the programme, and only 3,500 completed the programme. However, this was accounted for in part through recruiting more people in the initial stages of the instrument.
The verified premium placed on results promoted success and tied expenditure to outcomes. Similarly, the positive engagement between employers and training providers during the training allowed for greater success, and resulted in the participants gaining skills, experience and confidence.
In the Final Evaluation report, the instrument's success was measured by the number of participants who had signed off the Live Register at the end of the programme (50%). The progress during the programme was measured by comparing the number of starters, against the number of finishers, then within the finishers the number who had entered full-time employment, part-time employment, or further education. Full-time employment was achieved by 24% of finishers and a further 6% achieved part-time employment. Progression to further education was achieved by 8% of the finishers. These indicators were also broken down between the four theme clusters. Indicators are measured 2 months beyond each programme, to ensure validity of success.
Combines various approaches to reach those furthest from the labour market. Additionally, it deployed a ’delivery-outcome‘ based system to fund training based on meeting key performance indicators. It was the first time such a system had been tried in Ireland and it proved successful, as this approach motivated training providers to ensure they offered relevant course content and delivered quality placements to participants.
Evidence of effectiveness
A total of 3,532 long-term unemployed people had completed a Momentum training course by December 2014. Almost 40% of this group went on to secure a full or part-time jobs, or go on to further education. The end result meant that 52% of participants that started the programme (6,500) were ‘signed off’ the unemployment register by the end of the project period. The final evaluation report suggests that the outcomes from the initiative compare well with comparable programmes in other countries. As expected, final cohort wages were above the Eurostat low-wage calculation, and 40% of the 3,500 participants achieved positive outcomes. The Momentum programme successfully met its objectives, which were to distribute training and employment opportunities across the country. The programme’s interventions reached all age groups, including young people, while catering for individuals with different levels of education and experiences of unemployment. The Programme had a total sanctioned capacity for a target of 6,500 participants, but only 3,500 completed training. So only half of the cohort would benefit, with the drop out rate costing Momentum.
Engagement of stakeholders
The instrument was designed on the assumption that the positive engagement between employers, training providers and stakeholders was crucial for success. Stakeholders were involved in different stages of the instrument's implementation, for example: SOLAS (Ireland's Further Education and Training Authority) partook in the pre-qualification process with various other contractors, and criteria provided by DSP were used as a guidelines for participant eligibility.
The outcome-based approach to funding training providers is similar to the Work Programme in the UK and Job Services Australia. So there is potential for this type of approach to be transferred elsewhere.
The instrument is no longer operational.