This article examines the role of inter-agency cooperation, which is one form of ‘partnership’, in new approaches to employability in the UK. The article articulates a ‘model for effective partnership working’ on employability. This model is applied first in a general review of employability policy and then to discuss case study research on the recent ‘Pathways to Work’ and ‘Working Neighbourhoods’ pilots. It is argued that successful partnerships need a clear strategic focus based on a necessity for inter-agency cooperation and institutional arrangements that allow for shared ownership, trust and mutualism, and flexibility in resource-sharing. While some of these factors are apparent in UK employability services, an over-reliance on contractualism and centralized organizational structures may undermine partnership-based approaches. Many of the success factors associated with effective partnership working appeared to be in place, even though the role of the Public Employment Service was fundamentally different in each case (as a key actor in implementing the first pilot, but largely withdrawing from the implementation role in the second). The article concludes by outlining the relevance of this model and the case study findings to discussions of the future development of employability policies and related partnership working.
- Pathways to Work