2. We received written evidence from a wide variety
of witnesses and took oral evidence on four occasions, including
groups representing employers, organisations active in the jobs
and training field, Trades Union Congress (TUC), Transport and
General Workers Union (TGWU) and experts in the employment policy
area. The Government's
employment strategy is not solely the responsibility of the Department
for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Committee therefore took oral
evidence from officials of three other Departments having policies
which affect employment: the Department for Education and Skills
(DfES); the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the (then)
Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR).
3. We considered it was important to see for ourselves
how some of the Government's initiatives were actually working
and to compare the experience here with similar initiatives overseas.
The Committee first visited Birmingham to see a particularly successful
Employment Zone and talked to clients, the contractor, the local
Jobcentre Plus officials, Birmingham City Council, and to others
who were involved. The
Committee then visited three particularly relevant cities in the
United States of America: Philadelphia, Portland and Seattle,
where the employment problems being tackled were of a broadly
similar size and scale.
4. Our final oral evidence session was with the Rt
Hon Nick Brown, Minister for Work, Mr Leigh Lewis, the Chief Executive
of Jobcentre Plus and a senior DWP official.
We are extremely grateful to all those individuals and organisations
that assisted our inquiry.
5. Throughout the inquiry the Committee was assisted
by its Specialist Advisers, Mr Paul Convery and Mr Dave Simmonds,
Directors of the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion. We
are enormously grateful to both of them for their valued advice