Co‐production as a route to employability : lessons from services with lone parents

Lindsay, Colin and Pearson, Sarah and Batty, Elaine and Cullen, Anne Marie and Eadson, Will (2018) Co‐production as a route to employability : lessons from services with lone parents. Public Administration, 96 (2). pp. 318-332. ISSN 0033-3298 (

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Policy‐makers claim to support personalized approaches to improving the employability of disadvantaged groups. Yet, in liberal welfare states, mainstream activation programmes targeting these groups often deliver standardized, low‐quality services. Such failures may be related to a governance and management regime that uses tightly defined contracting and performance targets to incentivize (mainly for‐profit) service providers to move people into any job as quickly as possible. This article draws on evidence from third sector/public sector‐led services in Scotland to discuss an alternative approach. These services co‐produced personalized support in partnership with disadvantaged service users (in this case vulnerable lone parents). We suggest that, in this case, street‐level co‐production and personalization were facilitated by co‐governance and co‐management in the design and organization of provision. We conclude by identifying lessons for future employability services.