Anton Roe, Operations Director of Alderwood Education gives his top tips for getting involved in the Work Programme.
As you will probably know, The Work Programme is aimed at supporting the most vulnerable people and helping them break the cycle of benefit dependency. It represents a big change for Welfare to Work in this country and tries to create a structure that treats people as individuals and gives providers greater freedom to tailor the right support to each individuals needs.
The Work Programme will not succeed without buy in and assistance from organisations across the UK economy. Of course, training, careers guidance and support is crucial, but identifying sustainable employment opportunities is the key to the programme’s success. As such, the HR community will and can play a crucial role in making the programme work and ultimately, assisting in lowering unemployment levels. Whilst the role of blue chip employers is critical, SMEs can also play a vital part in improving the situation within their local labour markets.
Here are five tips for HR professionals on how to play their part in the successful running of the Work Programme:
- Give the unemployed a chance. It is inevitably difficult to assess those who are furthest removed from the workplace through their CV or interview performance. In many cases they will compare unfavorably against those already in the workplace, however this is not necessarily an indication of their suitability. The selection process needs to be designed to identify future potential to fulfill the role;
- Take on Apprentices. Research has proven the link between skills and employability is high for those studying Apprenticeships. Apprentices often demonstrate great loyalty towards the companies in which they train and in many cases, progress up the career ladder. Apprentices receive the benefit of ongoing post-employment support from the training provider or college through which they are engaged. This support will ultimately benefit the employer, as well as the employee. Many employers consider taking on Apprentices cost effective; generating a good return on investment. It also demonstrates corporate social responsibility and allows your company to display the Apprenticeship mark.
- Support the expert volunteering initiative. Consider the skills, experience and advice that some of your staff could offer to the unemployed. Leading employment charity, Careers Development Group, are pioneering the ‘Expert Volunteer Initiative’ with the ultimate aim of attracting 50,000 people to offer their help to the unemployed on a voluntary basis, complimenting the work of welfare to work providers. Volunteers can contribute as little or as much as they wish and can take part on behalf of their employers under the corporate social responsibility agenda.
- Offer work experience placements. Much of the difficulty in getting the long-term unemployed back into work derives from the fact they haven’t had recent employment experiences. Such experience can help give them an idea of what career they want to pursue and also give them valuable experience to talk about at interview.
- Understand the Work Programme. Finally, it is crucial that the HR community take the time to understand the Work Programme, including its aims, values and how they can contribute. As the programme progresses, there are likely to be an increasing number of opportunities for employers across the UK to engage with those training providers who are responsible for its delivery. Listen to what they have to say. You might be surprised at the benefits working with them can offer your business.
Anton Roe is Operations Director of Alderwood Education