In an exclusive interview with ePolitix.com, the employment minister has described the Work Programme as 'central' to the government's social policy.
Speaking at the Association of Employment and Learning Providers' annual conference, Chris Grayling outlined the coalition's plans for implementing its recently launched welfare-to-work scheme, and the broader value of the programme to society.
He said: "We see the Work Programme as a central part of the strategy for dealing with benefit dependency, with deprivation in many of our communities, and for addressing many of our biggest social challenges."
"The driver, above all else, in getting someone out of a very challenging socio-economic background, is to get them into secure, long-term employment. If you succeed in doing that then you stabilise the individual's life, get them re-engaged in the community and help to transform the environment in which they live.
The minister added: "Ultimately we are trying to channel people into the Work Programme and into employment."
The Work Programme is the government's flagship welfare-to-work initiative, aiming to provide support for up to two-and-a-half million people over the next five years.
It is to be funded by payments primarily based on results, with providers paid from monies saved in unemployment benefits by increasing the number of people in work.
Grayling went on to emphasise the importance of an integrated approach to employment and skills policy.
He noted that integration was needed not just in Westminster, where he works closely with his counterpart; skills minister John Hayes, but also at local level.
Describing the development of a partnership between the two areas as "fundamental", Grayling, MP for Epsom and Ewell, elaborated on how the employment and skills sectors could fashion more collaborative working patterns.
"At a national level John Hayes and I work very closely, as do our two teams," he said.
"But it is also important that on the ground a wide range of organisations, such as local learning providers, local skills organisations and local employment groups are working extremely closely to ensure that the mix of skills being delivered is applicable to the local economy."
"It is absolutely crucial to get this right."
Grayling's comments came as the newly rebranded Association of Employment and Learning Providers hosted the second day of its annual conference at the Hilton Metropole in London's Paddington.
Other speakers at Wednesday's morning session, on welfare, skills and employability, included Geoff Russell of the Skills Funding Agency.
Russell, chief executive of the agency, tasked with funding and regulating adult further education and skills training in England, praised the work of learning providers, whose efforts he claimed went "unheralded, but never unnoticed".
He went on to discuss the move towards greater flexibility in the delivery of learning provision. Noting that the "doors have been flung open", Russell outlined how, as of August 1st, colleges and training organisations would have equal access to the Agency's adult skills budget.
Addressing delegates representing learning providers from across the country, Russell said:
"Colleges will need to behave more like you – and you will need to behave more like them. It makes sense – it's all public money, meant to be used for what communities need."
And continuing the employment minister's focus on a closer integration between employment and skills, Dave Simmonds of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion said:
"Integration of employment and skills, long talked about, now becomes critically important. The drivers pushing integration are now absolutely critical for the industry as a whole."
The Association of Employment and Learning Providers' (formerly the Association of Learning Providers) annual conference took place on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd of June.