Youth Unemployment and the Future Jobs Fund - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

5  Benefits for employers and communities

Employers' experiences of the programme

60.  Evidence from employers indicates that they were, for the most part, impressed with the motivation and skills offered by FJF workers, provided that they had been through an appropriate selection process. There is also some strong evidence that employer recruitment processes and selection behaviours have been significantly changed as a result of experiences gained through the FJF. There is now a greater recognition of the contribution that young, formerly unemployed people can make to workforce diversity in many organisations involved in the FJF. There is also an awareness of the barriers posed by onerous application processes to younger, less experienced and more disadvantaged applicants for jobs. Liverpool City Region wrote:

People's perception of the long term unemployed as being lazy and not wanting to work have changed; employers are also reviewing recruitment processes for entry level jobs to have less complex application forms and clearer job descriptions.[65]

The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities shared this view:

Employers are reviewing their recruitment practices as they can see they can exclude the very people they want to attract, and that they are missing out on talent pool in their local communities. This is beginning to be seen as a huge legacy of FJF and one that partners are now very committed to capitalising on for the future. This is being shared as best practice across Greater Manchester.[66]

61.  The opportunity to recruit new staff funded by the FJF programme also brought a benefit for employers in terms of expanding the capacity of the organisation. Employers such as North Tyneside Council found that FJF workers helped employers respond better to customer needs, improve training and market their services to new clients and funders. The new staff also helped existing staff focus on more strategic work, helping the employer organisation become more sustainable.[67] Kirklees Council also highlighted some of the positive experiences an employer gained from the programme:

The Future Jobs Fund has provided KAL [Kirklees Active Leisure] with a group of enthusiastic young staff members, who have taken to the range of tasks asked of them with energy and commitment. Staff across the organisation have been pleasantly surprised at the impact made by these young people and the positive way in which they have completed the work set for them. Indeed, many staff have found it hard to believe that the people appointed have been unemployed for so long, such is their ability and approach.[68]

62.  The FJF enabled employers to train young people to a point where they could apply for permanent posts. For example, Barnardo's indicated that the training and experience young people gained during their six-month FJF post put them in a position to apply for standard positions within Barnardo's and other social care organisations.[69] The National Skills Academy for Sport & Active Leisure told us: "Because the FJF programme allows employers to employ, train and develop new employees to the point where they make a net contribution to the business, new jobs are being created which would not exist without this programme."[70]

63.  Groundwork UK found that employers had "both positive and negative experiences", stating that some employees were highly motivated, but others found themselves in the wrong job.[71] We discuss some of the initial difficulties faced by Jobcentre Plus in allocating individuals to FJF posts in Chapter 7. It is also important to note that the positive experiences for employers were overwhelmingly experienced in major public sector organisations such as local government and the NHS. Chapter 6 examines the issues the programme faced in creating opportunities in the private sector.

64.  Overall, employers were impressed by the young people they recruited through the FJF and believed that they had benefited significantly from the contributions made by these individuals. As a result of the programme, recruitment methods in some organisations have already been altered to make it easier for employers to recruit young people who lack experience. The Government, working through Jobcentre Plus and its Work Programme, should consider how it can encourage more employers to open up their recruitment processes to young people who lack experience but who have the capacity to make a valuable contribution.

Positive outcomes for communities

65.  A strong theme throughout the evidence was that the FJF programme significantly increased the resources available to the voluntary and community sector. Glasgow Works, for example, highlighted these advantages of the programme, particularly to smaller organisations who appreciated the enthusiasm and new ideas of their FJF employees.[72] Warwickshire County Council's evidence described the range of benefits that voluntary and community organisations experienced from the programme, including:

  • fulfilling roles that organisations had found it difficult to attract funding for or were unable to afford;
  • building organisational capacity;
  • extending organisational reach—for example, enabling an organisation to deliver services to a larger client group or to provide a wider range of services; and
  • freeing up other staff to take on more strategic level work.[73]

66.  The Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations told us:

The variety and scope of community benefit that has been generated by FJF [includes] regeneration projects, improved environments, increased access to advice, guidance and leisure services, and local anti-poverty initiatives. [...] The existence of FJF employees has offered some third sector organisations the opportunity to develop and create permanent jobs which would not have been affordable without the supported increase in capacity. [74]

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough echoed these views:

The programme has been hugely beneficial for the host organisations. They have been able to undertake areas of work that may not have been possible otherwise. The programme has also enabled young people to become involved in local community organisations and take an interest in the issues which they aim to address.[75]

67.  It is clear that communities and community organisations benefited significantly through their employment of FJF workers. The programme had a positive impact across the country in terms of enhancing the scale and the quality of services in the voluntary and community sector. We welcome these positive outcomes and regard it as unfortunate that the benefits may be lost with the withdrawal of the FJF. However, the community benefits must be considered in the context of the overall cost of the programme. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that the Future Jobs Fund was designed to be a temporary measure and these benefits were only ever intended to be experienced over a short period.

65   Ev w151 Back

66   Ev w218 Back

67   Ev w165 Back

68   Alasdair Brown, Chief Executive of Kirklees Active Leisure, as quoted by Kirklees Council, Ev w196 Back

69   Ev w186 Back

70   Ev w190 Back

71   Ev 57 Back

72   Ev 55 Back

73   Ev w5 Back

74   Ev w44 Back

75   Ev w59 Back

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Prepared 21 December 2010