Work Programme suffering from low employer awareness

Work Programme suffering from low employer awareness

More than a year after the launch of the government’s Work Programme, a CIPD survey of more than 1,000 employers has identified a clear need to increase both understanding and awareness of the scheme.

Of those employers that have used the Work Programme, the majority (79%) reckon recruits have either met or exceeded their expectations, while a further high proportion (58%) think candidates are better prepared for interviews and demonstrate improved presentation skills as a consequence of it.

However the report also revealed relatively low awareness of the programme amongst employers, with roughly half (49%) claiming to be unaware of it, and almost half (48%) of those that don’t plan to use it regarding it as “not relevant” for their organisations.

A further issue is that only half of employers that have recruited via the scheme intend to retain the resulting hires for more than six months, while almost half (48%) felt that participants were lacking in job-specific or technical skills.

According to CIPD labour market adviser Gerwyn Davies, there are two key areas of concern that are likely to determine whether the programme’s early success is likely to be sustained.

“Firstly, the Government needs to put as much clout behind improving awareness and understanding of the Work Programme amongst employers in all sectors as it has with pensions auto-enrolment,” he says.  “Our survey results suggest that the scheme could be targeted at those sectors – such as retail and hotels, catering & leisure – which are more likely to hire unemployed people and/or employ unskilled or low-skilled workers.

“Secondly, the high rate of churn after the six-month mark suggests that there may be a mismatch between participants and the employment opportunities that are being given to them, and that some employers may have unrealistically high expectations regarding the technical skills of individuals who have been out of work for a long time.  Instead of expecting the system to churn out work-ready individuals, employers need to play their part too by focusing more effort on training and developing new hires, in order to build their future workforces and have a lasting impact on helping the long-term unemployed back into work.

“Previous CIPD research has found a clear business case for this investment, supported by numerous high-profile employers who have a long track record of bringing the long-term unemployed into their workforces.”

Sunday, 4 November 2012

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