Broader recruitment issues
22. Recruitment practices are not the only factor
determining the employment and retention of long-term unemployed
people; the attitudes of employers to training are also influential
and can exacerbate the recruitment difficulties faced by long-term
unemployed people. Evidence from the Skills Task Force shows that
nearly 50 per cent employers attributed some of their internal
skill shortages to a failure to train and develop staff. The study
also found that over 30 per cent of employers attributed skills
shortages to recruitment difficulties, which included job applicants'
lack of desired personal attributes.
The first result suggests that employers are not providing adequate
training for their own employees and the second that employers
are seeking to compensate for in-house skill shortages by recruiting
individuals who already have the right mix of skills. Taken together,
these two findings indicate that employers are not going to be
attracted to unemployed people, especially young unemployed people
with little work experience and few marketable skills.
23. This outcome is supported by the evidence from
employers presented during our earlier inquiries which have looked
at the operation of the New Deal. One of the biggest criticisms
that employers have had of the New Deal for Young People (NDYP)
is that the people who have emerged from the programme have not
been sufficiently employable.
Similarly, employers who gave evidence as part of this inquiry
stressed the importance of candidates for employment being 'job
ready'. (If a person is job ready, they are able to take a position
immediately and perform effectively, without the need for additional
skills, training or assistance.) Ms Monk, Group Personnel Director
of Granada Group plc, said that one of her company's real disappointments
with New Deal was a continuing inability to find people who were
Mr Chris Banks, Managing Director of Coca-Cola Great Britain and
chair of the London Employers' Coalition, said that employers'
desires to find job ready individuals, with both basic and specific
skills, was a consistent theme. He also added that there was a
"real need to match the expectations of the young people
particularly with the opportunities and jobs that are available".
24. Unless those employers who do seek to recruit
from the ranks of the unemployed can find candidates with the
right mix of skills and who are job ready, improving the links
between employers and the long-term unemployed will not on its
own lead to greater employment opportunities. Nor is it simply
a case of managing down expectations. As the skills survey confirms,
employers are often not immersed in a training culture and are
simply not equipped or not prepared to provide the level of on-the-job
training, in either hard or soft skills, that many unemployed
job seekers require. (Soft skills is a term used to cover attributes
such as punctuality, presentation and reliability.)
Labour Market Intermediaries
25. There is some confusion over the use of the term
'intermediaries'. As Mr Jonathan Baldrey, Chief Executive of Talent
Resourcing Ltd, said, many organisations which work with the unemployed
have started to label themselves intermediaries when they may
not strictly be so. Labour market intermediaries are those organisations
which seek to change the nature of the relationship between employers
and job seekers, through improving the supply of labour, for example,
by providing training, through matching job seekers to employers'
vacancies or by seeking to change employers' demands for labour.
The Employment Service is the largest and most commonly recognised
intermediary in the UK. PEAs are also intermediaries and there
are many voluntary and charitable intermediaries working with
specific groups of job seekers, specific business sectors or in
particular geographical areas, often in partnership with each
other or the Employment Service. Nor should labour market intermediaries
be confused with those who manage intermediate labour markets.
Intermediate labour markets are initiatives which provide temporary
employment opportunities with training for unemployed people.
They may be managed by labour market intermediaries, but the two
are not synonymous.
26. As Chris Banks and Ms Amelia Fawcett, Chief Administration
Officer of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (Europe), said, labour market
intermediaries can play an essential role in bridging the gap
between employers and unemployed job seekers, particularly those
who are long-term unemployed, by increasing the links between
recruiters and job seekers. Ms Fawcett added that in many cases
employers would be unable to develop routes for recruiting unemployed
people without the assistance of intermediaries, especially those
who had contracted-out personnel function and therefore had little
in-house knowledge in the required fields.
The quality of intermediation, both in terms of the services offered
and the manner in which they are delivered, can be a major factor
in determining the level and quality of the employment opportunities.
7 Meager and Atkinson, Ev. p. 1; See also Meager
N and Evans C, The evaluation of active labour markets for
the long-term unemployed, Employment and Training Papers No.
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J, Giles L, and Meager N, Employers, Recruitment and the Unemployed,
IRS Report No. 325, Institute for Employment Studies, 1996. Back
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82, 101. Back
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HC 60-I, paras 18-20 and Fifth Special Report, Session 1999-2000,
The Government Response to the Fourth Report from the Committee,
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HC 603. Back
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