A Midland recruitment firm has welcomed radical proposals by Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell.
Following the success of Aston Together – a multi-sector scheme to help long term unemployed get jobs at a new Tesco in the inner city ward – Pertemps People Development Group hope to roll out more projects in Birmingham.
That came after Mr Purnell, speaking in Birmingham on Wednesday, said industry will be invited to bid to run employment services.
The welfare system is to be opened to offers from the private and voluntary sectors, in a drive to cut unemployment in areas where it has proved most stubborn.
The aim is to find innovative new ways of getting the long term unemployed and people on incapacity benefit into work.
Colin Birchall, chief executive of Aston Together, backed the Government’s proposal to open the welfare system up to private and voluntary sectors to find innovative ways of getting the long-term unemployed back into work.
Last month Tesco recruited 330 staff for its new Aston store – more than 200 of which found work through the Aston Together, an initiative led by Pertemps People Development Group.
Mr Birchall said: “The issue of long term unemployment in Birmingham and other parts of the UK is that there are pockets where it’s not just two, three or four per cent out of work but double-digit unemployment.
“You can’t just take a single path approach, you’ve got to have all sectors working together to address unemployment. When Labour launched New Deal in 1997 unemployment was at about three million, but while that’s now fallen to about one million many of those lack any meaningful work experience, literacy, numeracy or language skills.”
He added that of those on PPDG’s books who have been out of work for five or more years, 12 per cent have been unemployed for a decade or longer.
“They’re the ones farthest away in terms of having the basic experience and skills that employers want, that’s why it’s so important for agencies to work together,” said Mr Birchall.
“Handsworth, Lozells and Sparkhill, are well known for their high levels of unemployment, as is Aston but we’ve shown it’s possible to make a real difference by teaming up with Aston Pride, the city council, Job Centre Plus, the Learning and Skills Council and Tesco.
“We’re currently in talks with Tesco to work with them to fill posts for other sites they’ve identified across the city, but these schemes can’t only be about the end result, cutting unemployment, it has to offer people a chance to fill the gaps in their skillset to make them employable.”