We need a workforce with the right experience and skills to respond
In the final analysis, Grayling knew that what mattered was retaining a work experience scheme. This was put into sharp focus by new research from Alderwood Education suggesting that, when it comes to recruiting, relevant work experience (47.5%) and readiness for work, (39.1%) are the aspects which will get candidates the job. The research reinforces what has been known for sometime: it is easier to get a job if you are already in a job – the CV matters.
The majority (70%) also suggested that employers aren’t adequately involved in developing training programmes, and a further 30% stated that candidates are less prepared for work than before the coalition came to power.
The government’s problem last week was clear. Big employers were perceived to be profiteering from free labour, with individuals forced to work or risk losing benefits.
Not unsurprisingly, the employers proved agile in judging public mood and started to step away from the scheme. Tesco was seemingly cute enough this time to realise that by offering the choice of pay or benefits, they would be creating a positive scheme for both the individual and for their PR. Ministers, it appeared, were not so quick to learn from past experience, only agreeing to change the rules of the scheme at the eleventh hour.
The other interesting aspect is that when it comes to recruiting, only 4% believed employers rated education highly and only a fifth thought employers were concerned about literacy and numeracy. The research also reveals dissatisfaction with the way vocational careers are dealt with at school, with 88% of those questioned saying more should be done to promote vocational routes into employment.
This plays into a major problem for government – namely disinterest from the Department of Education in skills and the needs of a labour market. The requirement for work-related learning in schools is being abolished, careers advice is in disarray and the apprenticeship guarantee has gone. Therefore, it is possible to see that currently, incentives for schools are towards academic learning and the needs of universities, not those of employers.
There is a need to use this time of stagnant growth and rising unemployment to invest in skills. This will lead to a better match between employer needs and employee abilities when jobs return.
We also need a clear set of incentives for schools to improve vocational as well as academic skills. Ken Baker’s University Technical Colleges should be expanded, FE Colleges integrated with 14-19 education and the all age careers service finally delivered in schools.
For adults we should see proper integration of skills and employment schemes. As the Work Programme struggles under the burden of a lack of jobs, serious consideration should be given to how to inject skills funding into the scheme.Tagged in: Chris Grayling, Employment Minister, government, tesco, unemployment, work, work experience
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