CHAPTER 5 Full-time education & training option

The New Deal will allow certain unemployed young people to study or train full-time. This removes the restrictions of the "16-hour rule" which limits JSA claimants to studying only part-time. There are, however, different restrictions which will exclude from this option some people who are eligible for the New Deal.

Plans for the New Deal assume that the Full-time education & training (FTET) option should account for up to a quarter of New Deal participants. The Government also assumes that people entering this option will generally leave the Gateway after a month. This assumption means that if you take this option, you will probably leave the Gateway at least a month before people entering the Employment option.

Choosing the FTET option

When you enter the New Deal Gateway, your ES personal adviser will start by trying to find you unsubsidised work. If you do not manage to find a job, the next step will be exploring which of the New Deal options would be most appropriate for you.

Jobcentre staff are told that the FTET option is in the main suitable for people who want to (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 98):

You will not usually be able to start the FTET option before you have spent a month in the Gateway, but ES staff are told that "in exceptional circumstances it may become obvious at an early stage that this option is appropriate" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 95). This could be if you have "basic skills needs" (see page *), or a health condition or disability or if you are an ex-offender. You may also be able to argue for earlier entry to the option if you are already taking a part-time course on JSA and you would like to continue under the New Deal (see page * for more information about part-time study and the New Deal). These are just examples listed in the guidance. If you feel you should be allowed to join the option earlier, you should ask your personal adviser.

When you have agreed with your ES personal adviser that you can take the FTET option you will go on to choose a course. If you know what type of course you would like to take and your ES personal adviser agrees that this is "realistic within the context of the labour market" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 96), you should simply be referred to an appropriate course provider.

If you are less clear about which course to take, your ES personal adviser should give you more guidance. S/he can arrange for "information and (where appropriate) familiarisation visits" to colleges and training providers and, if you are still unsure, can refer you to a specialist careers adviser for further guidance (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 96).

If you have a disability or health condition, you should be referred to the disability employment adviser within the Jobcentre. S/he should be able to give you information about specific provision which may be available to meet your additional needs (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 86).

What type of course can you take?

Course providers

Your New Deal course will be funded by the Government, so you will need to attend a programme with an organisation or college which has agreed to contract with the Government to provide this option.

You may find that your New Deal course is an existing course and that the other participants are not on the New Deal. Your course can be provided by TECs/LECs, FE colleges or other training providers. They are expected to give you a place on provision which meets the New Deal requirements.

Your course could also be delivered on an employer’s premises. This may have to be the case in rural areas where there is no access to colleges or training organisations. For in-house training to be acceptable it must be "mapped" against national industry standards which form the framework for NVQs/SVQs and show at least a 50% match with these standards (NDPG (18-24), Ch 5, para 11).

Timing, duration and attendance

Colleges and course providers must be able to start New Deal participants on the course on a "roll-on roll-off" basis throughout the year. This means that you should usually be able to start your course within 2 weeks of having agreed your course choice with your New Deal personal adviser, regardless of the usual start dates for academic terms and years (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 150). In exceptional circumstances you can wait longer, but not more than 6 weeks (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 151).

Colleges and training organisations often close for fairly long holidays. A New Deal provider, however, must be able to deliver your course for 52 weeks a year.

The average length of stay on the FTET option is expected to be 9 months (with a maximum of 12 months) (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, Appen 5, para 2). Courses lasting less than 6 months will be "examined critically by advisers and, if necessary, be rejected". However in some circumstances short (less than 6 months) training courses will be allowed if they are of "particularly high quality and value, and hence beneficial to the individual (and appropriate for support under FTET)" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, Appen 5, para 5).

Attendance will be on at least 5 days and for at least 30 hours each week (NDPG 18-24, Ch 4, para 197). See "Attendance requirements", page *.

Course level

A course leading to an NVQ/SVQ assists you in gaining work-related skills. The FTET option is designed "primarily" to "help those who do not have N/SVQ level 2 or an appropriate equivalent, or to offer support to those who have basic skills needs". The aim of this option is to "equip those without N/SVQ 2 or equivalent, with the employability and occupational skills for work, which are likely to lead to sustained employment" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 3). This means that if you already have an NVQ/SVQ level 2 qualification or equivalent, you may have to take a different New Deal option, although there are exceptions (see below).

If you do not have a level 1 qualification

If you do not have a qualification at NVQ/SVQ level 1 or equivalent, you may be able to take a short basic skills course on the FTET option before entering another option. The basic skills course can last up to 20 weeks after which you can then "transfer to ANY other option". In these circumstances you will have "the full balance of time on the new option" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 114).

If you are already qualified to level 2 or above

You may not have actually taken a course leading to an NVQ/SVQ level 2, but you may still be qualified to that level because you have equivalent academic qualifications. If you have passed 4 GCSEs at Grade C or above, or 2 A Levels or 2 AS Levels, then you have the equivalent of an NVQ/SVQ level 2 (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, Appen 2 para 14).

If you have already reached level 2 (at school for example) your ES personal adviser may still agree that you can take another level 2 course or even a higher level qualification on the FTET option. ES guidance says that "if the qualification(s) [you have] is/are inappropriate to the local labour market [you] will be able to train towards a more relevant qualification" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 4). In addition, the guidance states that although "this option is not primarily intended to tackle higher level skill shortages … support for jobseekers who are aiming for S/NVQ levels 3 and 4 may be considered where achievement is likely to result in immediate employment" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 88). A Government minister has said that the New Deal allows "flexibility to study to NVQ level 3 if there is a clear local labour market need" (Letter 6/10/97). In addition, staff guidance says that "if an individual on entering New Deal was near to achieving S/NVQ level 3, we might set a goal of achieving level 3" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, Appen 5, para 6).

If your ES personal adviser does not agree that you can take a qualification at a higher level, you may be able to do so through a Modern Apprenticeship or National Traineeship (for more information see Guide to Training and Benefits for Young People – details on page *).

Course content

When you enter the FTET option, your course provider or college will be paid by the Government to teach or train you with money which has been set aside for the New Deal. Your ES personal adviser will have to agree that your choice of course is suitable to receive New Deal funding. S/he will also want to ensure that it furthers your employment objectives and the aims of the option.

Qualifications listed in Schedule 2 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 and section 6 of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 1992 are permissible, where they meet your employment needs. The vast majority of courses leading to a qualification are listed in these pieces of legislation. If there is some doubt about whether your chosen course is included in Schedule 2 (section 6 in Scotland), your course provider should be able to advise you. Your local Jobcentre should also have a list. Otherwise you may be able to find copies in a library.

ES guidance identifies some courses which are not included in Schedule 2 or section 6:

The fact that your course appears on the list in Schedule 2 or section 6 will not automatically mean that you can take it under the New Deal. Your ES personal adviser will also want to know that it is at the right level (generally NVQ/SVQ level 2 or equivalent or a basic skills qualification) and that it will help you to find work in the local labour market.

ES advisers are told that "New Deal is about enhancing employability and moving young people into jobs so the education and training on offer should lead young people towards employment". The guidance goes on to say that, "clearly S/NVQs and GNVQs have a strong employment focus and can offer participants a significant advantage in the labour market".

This does not mean, however, that you will be prevented from taking an academic qualification under the New Deal. ES staff are also told that "for some jobseekers the way back into the labour market will be through academic qualifications" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 84). ES advisers should "use [their] discretion and knowledge [about you] to determine whether academic qualifications may be appropriate". The guidance states that "research has shown that younger jobseekers (18/19 year olds) may benefit from academic qualifications, whereas it is likely that these are less suitable for older jobseekers" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 84). This should not prevent you from taking an academic qualification if you are over 19, but you may need to demonstrate how this particular course will improve your employability. ES staff are told that "it may be helpful to build in some vocational elements, perhaps through work experience and the accreditation of key skills".

Special dispensations

Certain courses not listed in Schedule 2 can be undertaken through the New Deal. You may be able to complete "the Knowledge" (to obtain a London black cab licence) through the FTET if you can do so within 12 months (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, paras 89-93). The personal adviser must be satisfied that you:

You may be able to take a driving instructor’s license if you can achieve it in 6-12 months and "obtaining this license may instantly provide a route to permanent employment" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 94). The personal adviser will need to be satisfied of your commitment to becoming a driving instructor and your likelihood of achieving employment taking into account the needs of the local labour market.

The New Deal for Musicians

There is a New Deal for Musicians, intended to help young people into a sustainable career in the music industry. This can be taken under either the FTET option or the self-employment route of the Employment option. For more details see page *.

People who are already taking a part-time course

People who are on part-time "16-hour rule" courses at colleges or with training providers can receive JSA if they can demonstrate that they are available for and actively seeking work while they take their course. If you are referred to the New Deal and you are taking a part-time course on JSA, it is important to check whether the referral is compulsory or not – in other words whether you can be sanctioned for refusing to attend (for details of compulsory referrals see page *). If the referral is compulsory, you will have to attend the New Deal.

If you are already taking a part-time course while you claim JSA at the time when you are compulsorily referred to the New Deal Gateway, you will not be able to stay on your course and continue to receive JSA. You may, however, be able to continue your course under one of the New Deal options.

ES staff are told that "the overriding priority is to meet the needs of the individual". The guidance goes on to emphasise that you "should not be arbitrarily forced to completely abandon existing study areas, unless there is clearly no benefit for long-term employability" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 105).

There are three ways in which a person who is referred compulsorily to the New Deal can or continue a part-time course (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 106):

  1. If you are nearing the end of your part-time course, you may be able to complete it during the Gateway, which can last for up to 4 months, after which you would choose your New Deal option. The funding for your course will continue to come from the Further Education Funding Council.
  2. You could convert your part-time course into a full-time course and take it under the FTET option of the New Deal. ES staff are told that "where appropriate, [you] can move on to the Full-time education & training option as soon as possible". Before allowing you to convert your course into the FTET option, your ES personal adviser is told to ensure that the course meets your career needs. When you transfer onto the New Deal option, the funding for your course paid to your course provider or college will change to New Deal funding.
  3. You could take one of the other three options and continue your course during the day per week when you are required to undertake "off-the-job training". ES staff are told that "the 26 days training can be taken flexibly and training times should be arranged to meet the individual’s needs". If you were to continue your course in this way, the fees would be paid from the £750 which the placement provider receives from the New Deal.

The New Deal procedural guidance also says that if you wish "to undertake additional study during [your] own time, [you can] apply independently to the college and pay the appropriate fee" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 108).

Transferring course

If you find that you have chosen the wrong course, either because the content is not what you expected or because it is too easy or too difficult, you may be able to transfer to a different course. ES staff are told that you can transfer to an alternative course in "exceptional circumstances", within the first month of the FTET option providing you are clearly on the wrong course and not likely to benefit from continuing on that course (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 101). Wherever possible the study should continue with the same provider. If a new provider is used you should be issued with a completely new Individual Training Plan (see below).

Minimum content of the option

There are certain aspects of your experience on the FTET option which are guaranteed (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 5):

You should be supported by your New Deal personal adviser during your time on the option and after completing the option if you haven’t got a job.

Individual Training Plan

You should be given a copy of a document called an Individual Training Plan within 4 weeks of starting your New Deal option. Your Plan should come out of the induction process and it should be agreed by the organisation providing your training, e.g. your college, and by you (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 13).

Your Training Plan should (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, Appen 4, para 3):

Attendance requirements

You are required to attend on the days and hours as agreed with your provider. Attendance will be on a minimum of 5 days each week, and for at least 30 hours (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, paras 197-199).

Attendance and caring responsibilities

If you have caring responsibilities you can limit your attendance in line with any restrictions set out in your Jobseeker’s Agreement (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 204).

Attendance requirements for people with disabilities

If you have a disability you can restrict your attendance to the days and hours set out in your Jobseeker’s Agreement (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 206).

Attendance and voluntary work

If you do any voluntary work then you must fit it round your course. The guidance states that "providers will however, where possible, accommodate established patterns of voluntary work" (NDPG 18-24, Ch 4, para 205).

Attendance and Community Service Orders

If you have a Community Service Order you may not restrict your hours of attendance on an option to allow yourself time to complete the hours required by the Order (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 201). Ask your New Deal personal adviser for advice if necessary.

Authorised absence

Sickness

The guidance states that the "provision for sickness absence is not to be regarded as an ‘entitlement’". You will be allowed up to 2 weeks certificated or 6 days self-certificated sickness at any time and still remain on the option (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, paras 220-232). Absences in excess of this may affect your continued participation. Your provider will discuss the reasons for your absence with the ES personal adviser. ES personal advisers are told to "consider whether another benefit is more appropriate". The guidance states "if there are genuine and unavoidable reasons for absence then the participant should be allowed to continue. However repeated absence/non-attendance are not acceptable".

If you take more than a total of 10 working days of sickness during the period of the option your provider can dismiss you (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 220).

If you are sick you must telephone on your first day of absence. If you are sick due to a disability you should be "allowed additional appropriate time". If you have been off sick and do not have a certificate from your doctor, you should be asked for a satisfactory explanation of your illness when you return to the option. Your provider is responsible for monitoring sickness and should keep in touch with you through your sickness and help you back to the option as soon as possible.

Holidays

You are allowed to take up to 2 weeks holiday while on a FTET option. The guidance states that the "provider will need to consider what is reasonable in the light of the length of the programme". You will be encouraged to take any public holidays. You should also be allowed additional time for religious/cultural holidays (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, paras 236-239).

Hospital/doctor/dentist appointments

You should normally attend these appointments outside the time you go to your option. However, if this is not possible, or in emergencies, such appointments can be considered authorised absences. If you have regular appointments because of a disability you should be allowed to attend your appointments (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 218).

Territorial Army

If you are a Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve then you may be allowed authorised absence to attend training camps (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 219).

Public duties

If you have a public duty, such as jury service or as a part-time fire fighter, you should be given some authorised time off. Check with your provider. However if the duty exceeds more than 5 successive working days your "provider will terminate the option" (NDPG (18-24, Ch 4, para 233).

Unauthorised absence

You are allowed a total of 5 days unauthorised absence from an option. On the fifth day your provider can dismiss you and will inform the Jobcentre.

What happens to your benefits?

While you are participating on the FTET option, you will receive an allowance equivalent to any JSA you received immediately before the start of your option. You will also retain entitlement to any passported benefits, such as Housing Benefit or Mortgage Interest Payments. This differs from the other options, in which you are paid either a wage or benefit plus about £15 per week.

Your course provider will be expected to cover the costs of any "tools and equipment and necessary for the course" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 71). Your provider should also cover all "necessary and reasonable daily travel costs" (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 50). If you have additional costs which are not met by the provider, you may be able to claim them from the "Discretionary Fund".

The Discretionary Fund

The Discretionary Fund is money which has been made available in "exceptional circumstances" to "enable individual access to training where additional barriers to participation exist". The Discretionary Fund is intended to cover (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 39):

Your ES personal adviser may identify the need for discretionary funding when you are being referred to your option, or your college or course provider may recognise your additional needs once you have started on the option.

Any tools and equipment necessary for the course should be supplied by your provider. The Discretionary Fund cannot be used to pay for these items.

Training away from home

If you have to stay away from home overnight because part of your course is provided in a place which is too far to travel to each day, you can be paid an allowance from the Discretionary Fund. You will be paid £35 per day as a lodging allowance. This allowance can also be paid to cover the weekend if necessary (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 52).

Exceptionally high costs of travel

Your college or course provider will reimburse you for your usual daily travel costs, but there will be an upper limit to the amount they can pay. If your costs are higher than the limit, you or your course provider will be able to apply to the Discretionary Fund. ES staff will want to check that you are travelling in a cost-effective way, for example using a weekly ticket instead of daily returns (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, paras 50-51).

Childcare costs

If you are responsible for the care of a child you may be able to get help with your childcare costs while you attend the FTET option. Childcare costs can be paid up to, but not including, the first Tuesday in September following the child’s 15th birthday (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 56). For children receiving Disability Living Allowance or registered blind, childcare costs can be paid up to, but not including, the first Tuesday in September following their 16th birthday (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 57).

You can claim childcare expenses from the Discretionary Fund, as a last resort, while you attend the FTET option if (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 60):

There is a legal requirement for minders and childcarers looking after children under the age of 8 to be registered with social services. Even if your child is 8 or over, your carer will need to be registered if you want to claim expenses from the Discretionary Fund. The minder or carer must be fully registered – claims will not be accepted where childminders/nurseries state that they are in the process of being registered with the local authority.

If your child attends a scheme run on Crown or Government property, for example a holiday club run at a school, the scheme will not need to be registered since Crown property is exempt from the Children Act (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 68).

You will receive £20 per day up to a maximum of £100 per week for your oldest or only child and £30 per day up to a maximum of £150 per week if you have two or more children (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 55). Your course provider or college will give you the childcare money so you can make payment to the childcare provider as long as you can give them the paid invoice. The course provider or college then claims the money they have given you back from the Discretionary Fund (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, paras 58-59).

Refusal of help

If you are refused help from the Discretionary Fund you will be sent a letter detailing the reasons. If you want to challenge the decision you must do so by writing to the ES staff member who has made the decision. You must write within 14 days of the decision being made (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 77-78).

Advice and support

You can continue to receive support from the ES personal adviser whilst you are on the FTET option. The ES personal adviser will discuss any concerns you may have and if necessary can accompany you on your first day or if you have a mentor arrange for the mentor to go with you (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 188).

Part-time workers

Full-time education or training is defined as 30 or more guided hours, usually on the premises of the education/trainer provider or work experience provider. There can be some flexibility about the place of provision for those on distance learning, but the level of support for each participant should be clearly set out (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 109).

If you work part-time you can attend the FTET option if work does not affect the required level of attendance. If you have evening work, you can attend FTET for 30 hours during normal hours.

If the ES New Deal personal adviser considers the FTET option suitable for you, but thinks that you may be unable to attend for 30 hours a week because of your part-time work, s/he should contact the provider to find out if they are able to accommodate your working pattern and still meet the required objectives of the option. This may be permitted, but will depend on the provider’s agreement (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 112).

You are required to declare your part-time earnings (NDPG (18-24), Ch 4, para 202).