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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Low employer awareness hampering Work Programme, warns CIPD


The government must boost awareness and understanding of its Work Programme among employers if the scheme is to succeed in its aims of getting the long-term unemployed back into work, the CIPD has warned.

But rather than expect the system to churn out work-ready individuals, employers also need to play their part by putting more effort into training and developing new hires, the HR membership body continued.
Just over a year after the government’s flagship employment initiative was introduced, the CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook Focus report has revealed that just under half of employers don’t know anything about it. About the same number also feel that it is not relevant to their organisation and do not plan to use it to help them hire staff.
To make matters worse, among those employers that have already recruited via the Work Programme, only half planned to keep hold of their new hires for more than six months, while 48% were concerned that participants lacked certain job-specific or technical skills.
Gerwyn Davies, the CIPD’s labour market adviser, said that, if the early success of the initiative were to be sustained, the government had 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”.
The results of a survey of more than 1,000 employers from all three main sectors of the economy suggested that particular attention should be paid to areas such as retail, hotels, catering and leisure, however, as firms here were most likely to hire unemployed, unskilled or low-skilled workers.
But the high rate of churn among participants of the scheme after six months also implied that there could be a mismatch between the individuals concerned and the employment opportunities being offered to them.
Another issue was that “some employers may have unrealistically high expectations regarding the technical skills of individuals who have been out of work for a long time”, Davies said.
But “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 to work”, he added.
Author Profile Picture
Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett