Memorandum from Tomorrow's People
1. What can the government do to encourage
employers to recruit unemployed people?
The government can play a key role in encouraging
companies to take on their responsibilities as corporate citizens
within the community. By raising awareness of the wider benefits
of recruiting long-term unemployed people such as the reduction
in poverty-related crime, ill-health, low skills and low achievement
and the increased well-being and prosperity of the local community,
the government would be providing sound commercial incentives
for businesses to engage in these issues.
Whilst a number of the larger employers have
embraced the corporate citizen philosophy, work still needs to
be done to raise awareness of the wider consequences of long-term
unemployment amongst the smaller to medium size companies. This
could form part of the drive to recruit employers onto the New
Deal programme alongside incentives such as the financial subsidies
already on offer.
It is crucial that this message is given equal
if not greater emphasis than financial incentives when recruiting
employers onto government initiatives such as New Deal. Whilst
financial incentives are useful in helping some employers take
on unemployed people and providing training, they must be managed
with a view to a permanent solution and sustainable employment
and not as short-term quick fixes. The long-term benefits to business
of strengthening communities could become the main incentive to
engage with the issue.
Equally important is the need to forge new partnerships
and strengthen existing ones between the Employment Service and
like-minded organisations (be it training providers and/or recruitment
agencies). The large recruitment drive for the Tate gallery where
the Employment Service is helping to provide the bodies and Tomorrow's
People is providing the pre-screening service through putting
prospective applicants through workshops on things such as interview
techniques, customer service and application forms shows how vital
this partnership activity is. The agencies involved in these partnerships
contribute a wide range of expertise to the process of getting
people into sustainable employment.
2. Would such measures help to reduce unemployment
or simply lead to the displacement of other people who would have
got jobs anyway?
Experience shows that the main area of concern
is when dealing with the mid to long term unemployed client group
(six months and upwards) therefore any measures would need to
be directed at this sector of the unemployed group.
Those people who would have got jobs anyway
would most certainly continue to do so without government assistance
aside from the standard monetary benefits. In a strong economy
with growing employment there is a sufficient turnover of vacancies
to accommodate the easier-to-place client. In the event of a downturn
in the economy and a slackening of the labour market, the job-ready
candidates will be creamed off by employers.
3. Even if this is the case, is it a good
thing nonetheless because of its beneficial churning of the labour
The churning of the labour market is vital as
it reduces the percentage of long-term unemployed to the overall
unemployment figure. If churn was not encouraged some long-term
unemployed people who have already demonstrated their inability
to secure jobs unaided would ultimately be excluded from the labour
market, becoming more and more unemployable.
Alongside this, however, it is crucial that
any measures to help long-term unemployed people into work are
carefully designed to ensure that scenarios such as the revolving
door syndrome are avoided. Churning within the labour market is
necessary but must not be used as a short-term fix creating movement
amongst the harder to place clients as this runs the risk of alienating
both employers and the client group.
Alternatives to subsidy-only schemes which provide
more focused career counselling and on-going support to employers
and clients such as intermediary brokering, intermediate labour
markets, mentoring and buddying are all options that help keep
people in sustainable employment.
4. What are employers doing to reach out to
prospective employees who have been unemployed for some time?
We have found that employers are willing to
consider an adjustment to their normal recruitment criteria or
processes to facilitate the recruitment of long-term unemployed
people although they are not prepared to lower the standard to
such a degree that they open the floodgates to inappropriate applicants.
In order to reach the right conclusion employers
prefer to be helped by someone who understands the commercial
imperative and, at the same time, has an understanding of the
needs, fears and abilities of unemployed people. Additionally,
many employers appreciate the support of an expert intermediary
on hand to help with any problems once the candidate is placed
into employment. This aftercare support has proved extremely effective
ensuring sustainability of employment and ensures the continued
support of employers.
5. Is there anything more that the Employment
Service could do to promote the recruitment of unemployed people?
One particular area where Employment Service
could focus is a more active marketing campaign to promote the
recruitment of unemployed people. This needs to be done in a dual
level, firstly a more active marketing of the services available
at the Employment Service Jobcentres to the clients that they
serve. Secondly a campaign needs to be directed toward potential
employers. Whilst a sterling job is already being done by the
Employment Service, the type of employers they market their services
to tend to be large well-known organisations (Tesco, M&S,
the Tate Gallery, etc) which may solve a problem in the short-term
but it is not a long-term solution in part due to the nature of
the jobs on offer.
Consequently the net needs to be cast even further,
for example a further increase in the job sectors covered by the
likes of Employment Service Direct. In addition closer links should
be established with what is happening at local level, via the
Chambers of Commerce for example.
6. What kind of projects should the fund be
used to support? Are there existing examples of good practice
in this area?
Projects which should be funded are those which
perhaps fall out of the mainstream or instances where a small
amount of financial assistance will allow an individual to regain
employment. For example there are any number of IT courses which
fall out of mainstream and are not funded under TEC provision
(eg any MSCE course where a job is virtually guaranteed once you
have the qualifications). Similarly it could be that an individual
cannot gain employment because of simple issues like they do not
have protective clothing, the right tools etc.
Additionally, the intermediaries fund could
be used to support employer-focused projects. An intermediary
working closely with an employer, or group of employers in an
area could positively encourage them to become involved.
A successful example of this can be found in
the Corporate Workroute scheme run by Tomorrow's People enabling
organisations such as Unipart and AstraZeneca to recruit-long-term
unemployed people on the New Deal scheme. The intensive support
offered to employers and clients has meant a high proportion of
participants have gained successful and sustainable employment.
7. What can private employment agencies contribute
to the recruitment of unemployed people?
In the last few years there has been a growth
in the number of private agencies (eg Reed) who have begun to
deliver schemes such as the New Deal Programme. A major issue
for these agencies will be the understanding of the needs of longer-term
unemployed people who often face attitudinal as well as social
and educational barriers.
In order to tackle these barriers private agencies
would benefit from forging close links with organisations that
deal only with unemployed people such as Kennedy Scott, Training
Network, Tomorrow's People, TBG, Rathbone CI, etc).
8. What can be done to support career progression
for people taking entry-level jobs after a period of unemployment?
We question in part the statement that a lot
of entry-level jobs (eg work in call centres) offer little scope
for career progression within the employers organisation but can
equip people with skills which other employers will value.
This level and type of employment does equip
people with transferable skills but additionally, the management
structure of most organisations is strongly driven by internal
appointment of people who have demonstrated the skills needed.
Organisations trading on Internet (or at least some of them) will
be hugely successful. Skills gained in a customer-focused job
(ie call centres) transfer readily to Internet operations.
That said, many entry-level workers would benefit
from ongoing support which could be provided from the employer
through accreditation of prior learning or Investors in People
which provides the employer with a structure to move forward.
The vital issue is not to abandon a person to
an entry-level job, simply to gain a statistical outcome. The
use of entry-level employment must be seen by the individual as
part of a strategic plan to gain a career post. In that way they
will be more committed to putting their efforts into the entry-level
job in order to gain experience and secure good references for
future employment. Throughout their sojourn in entry-level employment,
the unemployed person should be given close mentoring support
and career counselling.