Work and pensions minister Rosie Winterton said the Government would help professionals get back into work as a new online job club was launched.
Ms Winterton, who was visiting JobCentre Plus in Chelmsley Wood, Solihull, said the recession had seen two kinds of new customers walking through the doors of job centres: professional jobseekers and those who had not been unemployed for a long time.
The Executive Job Club will allow such people to search for positions online, communicate with like-minded jobseekers and access a range of training opportunities, she said.
The club forms part of a £1.3?billion investment package announced by the Government which also includes incentives for employers who train and interview the long-term unemployed.
“We’re not going to stand by and say the answer is for everyone to go on incapacity benefit,” said Ms Winterton, who revealed that 250,000 people came off Jobseekers Allowance last month.
“There’s a concentrated effort to help people find new work. At the same time, we’re thinking long-term and we’re looking to train people and keep training them, so that they have the skills that are so vital to employers.”
During her tour of the job centre, the minister praised staff she said were working hard to meet the needs of the new demographic. As well as seeing new customers, regional manager Zanny Lomas said her staff were dealing with new industries. “I have been in the business a long time. I won’t say how long but this is my third recession,” she said.
“This is a different animal to the recessions of the ‘80s and 90s. We’re getting people coming out of industries that we wouldn’t normally experience. There’s still the redundancies in manufacturing but the credit crunch is also having an effect. As well as redundancies in the banking and finance industry, we’re also seeing redundancies from companies which rely on finance to keep afloat.”
The Government has already invested £2bn nationally into Jobcentre Plus, part of which will fund 6,000 staff. Despite the huge investment, Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said more still needed to be done.
“Whilst we support the idea of executive job clubs, the Government has been slow off the mark,” she said. “If they were really serious, they wouldn’t have closed a job centre every week in 2008.”