Research and Statistics

A comparative review of workfare programmes in the United States, Canada and Australia

by Richard Crisp and Del Roy Fletcher

Hallam University were commissioned to undertake a literature review of international evidence of workfare programmes. Three countries were chosen as offering interesting and relevant examples of workfare type programmes: the US, Canada and Australia. It was clear from the outset that it would not be possible to import wholesale programmes from other countries into the UK, but that there would be key lessons.

The report refers to key features that help participants on workfare programmes into employment. Insisting on some job search for participants during the programme is vital to ensure that they do not become dependent on this form of employment and actually move into the open labour market. The second key feature is treating participants' barriers to work and not just their lack of work experience. Additional support for those with drink and drug problems and basic employability skills helps improve participants' chances of finding work.

The report points to evidence that full-time activity in such programmes leads to improved job outcomes: between a half and two-thirds of leavers found unsubsidised work at some point in the three years after leaving the Wisconsin programme. Australia's 'Work for the Dole' had a 7 per cent net increase in participants going into jobs compared to nonparticipants.

August 2008 24 pages 297x210mm

ISBN 978 1 84712 445 6