Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Development Department, City of Nottingham

The following comprises the response from Nottingham City Council.

  1.  To a large extent, the example of the large philanthropic company outreaching to those at a disadvantage within the labour market has gone.

  The reality for many cities is the growth of small and medium enterprises who have neither the time nor the resource to work in that way.

  An anecdote to illustrate this is:

  The Employment Service locally are organising a Millennium Award event for "New Dealers" who have been nominated for their progress and commitment.

  A small hairdressing company employing one such trainee rang to ask if their trainee would be successful. Their reasoning being that to attend the event would mean closing the business for half a day.

  Their dilemma was a choice between supporting the new deal trainee and losing business.

  2.  With regard to the question of displacement created by increased employer activity. We agree that "churning" of the labour market is beneficial and this might also create movement for those who are under employed as well as those unemployed.

  3.  An interesting phenomenon exists around the large numbers of unfilled vacancies advertised by the Employment Service locally. Evidence suggests that very few employers complain or chase their unfilled vacancies. Greater flexibility around the use of hard to fill vacancies (due to low rate of pay or temporary nature of the contract) to provide work placements/work trials may prove beneficial to engaging unemployed people. They would however require payment at the rate for the job and this would impact upon their benefit payments.

  The opportunity for enhanced flexibility around benefits, eg by use of suspension rather than severance would be extremely beneficial.

  4.  The concept of the wage subsidy has not really proven successful, it is therefore important to identify an alternative trigger for employment involvement eg

    —  halve the business rate; or

    —  have a sliding scale of rates with benefits for companies who demonstrate they are good employers;

    —  local good practice of long standing is of two services (QTI Nottingham City Council and NTO Notts County Council) which work with small and medium businesses to aid their recruitment in areas of skill shortage. The key to their success lies in taking the hassle out of recruitment, induction and ongoing support through the early months of employment. In addition they pay off the job training fees, monitor progress against an agreed training plan, and give financial recognition to the on the job training needed. The achievement of sustainable employment outputs through these services is approximately 80 per cent.

  The development of the new intermediary fund is welcomed in principle, but it cannot be a quick fix approach. The concept of an honest broker working between company and unemployed person is sound and is what I believe that QTI and NTO already provide.

  One concern is, however, that competitive funding can create negative competition rather than collaborative working and building on what already exists.

  5.  Support for those taking entry level jobs, to aid their career progression should build on the aftercare/post placement support already described. This can be enhanced by using good mentoring programmes.

  It is also important to have good methods of tracking the progress of clients as they move from one employment to another.

Development Department

City of Nottingham

March 2000

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