APM labs to innovate employment services

Published on 24 Oct 2016

APM is today launching 'APM Labs' to run trials of high-potential ideas in service design.

Its mission will be to increase the social and economic impact of employment services, accelerating the pace of innovation by commissioners and providers in the design and delivery of services to help people back to work.

Tackling some of the key delivery issues for organisations who want to deliver higher performance and greater impact, APM Labs will generate the evidence base for trial interventions, publishing results openly in the UK and internationally.

The new non-profit organisation will be chaired by Dave Simmonds OBE, formerly CEO of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion.

"A new open approach is needed for 'what works' in helping people back to work, stay in work and progress in work," he said.

"APM Labs will be firmly focused on trying new ideas and sharing the results. We think this new approach will help all providers, big and small, to share, learn and deliver better results. It will also help commissioners to design better programmes and not repeat past mistakes."

Robust trials - generating evidence for service designers and managers

APM Labs will be developing its network of academic partners in the coming months. Trials will be designed by APM Labs' stakeholders and delivered within existing programmes, as well as seeking funding to support new trials. Independence, quality, and transparency will be ensured by our academic partners.

Published results will likely cover:

The impact on performance and outcomes for disadvantaged people, covering employment, improvements in health and other social and economic benefits ?

Description of the mechanisms by which the interventions achieve their effects ?

Costs of the interventions and identifying reductions in health system costs ?

Other moderating factors for successful implementation, such as how provision will align with other services and the impact of wider labour market conditions.

Why APM Labs?

Alan Cave, APM's UK CEO, said: "We are establishing APM Labs because we don't want to hoard the knowledge generated by new innovation and trials. We have made a decision not to, and we hope we will be joined by others who feel the same. With academic partners the Lab will bring rigour and openness, this is why it will be an independent non-profit organisation.

"We believe we are part of a public service for the most disadvantaged people. We have an important social mission which is funded by public money; and we think that should mean sharing evidence of what works."

"We are Australia's leading provider of disability employment services and one of the fastest growing providers of welfare to work provision in the UK. In APM we are building a culture where staff see constant test and change as normal, and we want to work with other organisations with great ideas. Launching and hosting APM Labs is part of building that culture of innovation".

The first Year

APM Labs will be issuing a detailed prospectus setting out how organisations can be involved. In 2017 it will be hosting an open Lab meeting for providers, commissioners, the research community and funding bodies. This will help to establish priorities for future trials.

APM Labs will aim to add value to existing activity and increase collective knowledge. It will work actively with DWP nationally and locally as well as other relevant networks including the NESTA-hosted Alliance for Useful Evidence and the Cabinet Office What Works Network.

Notes to editors

Founded by four female occupational therapists in 1994, APM is an international employment and training business with more than 1,200 staff at 500 sites in UK, Australia & New Zealand.

A private company still wholly owned by its founders, APM UK delivers a diverse portfolio of employability, skills, youth and justice contracts, most notably Work Programme, Working Capital, National Citizen Service and National Offender Management Service.

Australia's leading provider of government vocational rehabilitation services, the business has a mission to improve the lives of one million people by 2020.