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Jobcentres are not fit for work. Two thirds of those on job seekers allowance have been previous claimants, hinting at temporary solutions being applied to permanent issues.
Even those working in Jobcentres are frustrated as they rarely have more than 10 minutes to spend on each job seeker per meeting; hardly enough time to discuss complex situations, wishes, and strategies. Meanwhile, less than 20% of small businesses, which make up 84% of employers in the UK, recruit via Jobcentres. We need to step away from tick-box solutions to find something that works for job seekers and employees alike. Otherwise, what is the Jobcentre for?
The government needs to work with employers
Clever schemes which offer government subsidised work for unemployed young people resulting in 60% of employees retaining their recruit after the subsidy ended. The schemes represent low risk for employers who can otherwise be reluctant to hire those with a history of unemployment. Wage supplements for low-income workers also keep people in work, although whether this should be in the form of government welfare or a legal living wage is debatable.
Large organisations like Tesco have also worked closely with the Jobcentre to offer work to those who have been long-term unemployed. This work has been coupled with training courses in literacy, numeracy and basic life skills. In reward for taking their social corporate responsibility they have found a loyal workforce from within the local community.
Training is crucial for gaining and sustaining employment
While the provision of job opportunities is crucial, training to ensure people are ready for those jobs is just as important. Resilience is increasingly being recognised as a key feature for success, including success in employment. Similarly, dealing with rejection, boosting confidence and learning skills relating to gaining and keeping employment should be provided as standard for those not in work. This could be undertaken by a reworked Jobcentre, or by funding charities already providing these essential services. One such charity is Street League, a national charity which engages young people through sport. The organisation develops key life and work skills, with an aim of supporting young people into employment with continued support when on the job.
If we don’t equip people with key skills to sustain their employment we risk setting people up to fail. It is in the interest of government and employers to have a competent and stable workforce, so sufficient training must be available for candidates to realise their potential.