Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Black Country Colleges Consortium

  1.  Your paper indicates that employers are discriminating against those who are unemployed because of their lack of qualification and experience.

  2.  In our experience employers do not discriminate against the unemployed, because of qualifications and experience. They only discriminate against those who are not job ready. In many cases qualifications are irrelevant to employers, as employees will be trained in-house. Experience, in whatever form, is likely to be the evidence employers seek to confirm job readiness.

  3.  The Government could focus training for unemployed people more towards job ready skills rather than focusing on NVQ Level 2, as per New Deal. There needs to be a move away from NVQ Level 2 qualifications and a move towards short, employment related courses that includes work ethics, attitudes, etc, which are appropriately accredited. This would lead to sustainable employment and reduce unemployment.

  4.  Employment Service could do more in the recruitment of unemployed people by understanding the needs of business and industry. Employment Service are currently far too bureaucratic and indoctrinated in their own culture. Staff have little or no knowledge, in many cases, of the industrial and business environment. Many have never worked outside of the civil service.

  5.  Some of the proposed Intermediaries Fund could be used to second Employment Service personnel into other sectors and vice versa, to increase their knowledge and understanding of another culture. Similarly, there needs to be encouragement to bring the two cultures closer together.

  6.  Some of the funding could be allocated towards employability programmes. An example of good practice in this area is a partnership between a hotel chain (building a new hotel and leisure complex in the area), Employment Service and a local further education college. Every unemployed person on the local register has been sent a letter inviting them to join an employment related short course at the college (developed between the college staff and the hotel personnel), and everyone who completes the course is guaranteed an interview at the new hotel.

  7.  Other funding could be used to offer an incentive to companies to take trainees on a "taster" for a short period of time to test their suitability.

  8.  Many employers use employment agencies for recruitment. There is a perception that Employment Service staff do not send the right person for the job and that employment agencies are better at matching clients to jobs.

  9.  Local partnership could be established between Employment Service and employment agencies to share best practice and learn from each other's employment related issues.

  10.  Whilst given the opportunity to respond to your enquiry we would also like to offer some further thoughts for the Committee:

  Current New Deal training providers are reluctant to move clients into subsidised employment from the options, as there is no financial incentive to do so. We lose out on further on-programme payments but more importantly we lose both the qualification output payment and the employment output payment, as well as the output relating to performance data.

  If a client moves into employment shortly after leaving the FTET option the provider is not entitled to claim the job outcome fee and can only claim this payment if the job is offered whilst still on the option. We would argue that the client has been able to gain sustainable employment because of the training, support, job search experience and work experience given to the client whilst on the option. Employment Service cannot dismiss the fact that the clients, who have been unemployed for many months, have been supported by a provider for a period of up to 52 weeks, in many cases, and that any employment gained by the client is as a result of all their hard work.

Black Country Colleges Consortium

March 2000

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