Select Committee on Education and Employment Third Report



62. Significant barriers to the recruitment of unemployed people still persist. The most significant of these are:

      (a)  indirectly discriminatory recruitment practices on the part of employers; and

      (b)  inadequate skills levels and sometimes more persistent problems on the part of employed.

63. The Employment Service and other labour market intermediaries have a significant role to play in helping both employers and unemployed people surmount these barriers. Much progress has been made by the Employment Service in shifting its culture towards becoming a demand-led organisation but more needs to be done, especially with regard to the development of a consistently, high-quality complete service to employers. Intermediaries vary greater in the methods, objectives and effectiveness but the best provide models for the rest. The Government needs to become more active in the dissemination of best practice around the UK to complement the importation of best practice from abroad.

64. The future nature of the Employment Service has been a consistent theme throughout the Sub-committee's work. We reject the arguments of those who called for the Service to become exclusively employer-orientated. Indeed, it is essential that the Employment Service continues to accord high priority to helping into work those who are most disadvantaged. This is entirely consistent with its position as a public service agency and with giving the needs of employers equal treatment. The more the Employment Service can come to understand the needs of employers the more it can place suitably qualified clients in the right jobs. It follows therefore that nothing should be allowed to deflect the Employment Service as it strives to become more demand-led.

65. Employers too have a role in equipping their employees and potential employees with the right skills at the right time. Clearly many employers are motivated by altruism; but the fact remains that there is also a hard-headed business case for employers to recruit from the ranks of unemployed people, particularly when there is a tight labour market, and to intervene at an earlier stage to ensure the provision of an adequately skilled workforce.

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