Jobcentre Plus needs to brush up its efforts to encourage employers to use its services and help get the unemployed back to work, business groups have warned.
A survey of more than 3,000 employers by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) found barely one in four (28%) employers use the service to recruit staff. This figure was well below recruitment agencies (42%) and in-house referral schemes (38%) as the current preferred way to source staff.
David Frost, director-general of the BCC, told Personnel Today the figure showed a serious disconnection between employers and the jobs service.
“One in four employers is definitely not a good figure,” he said. “The service needs to be faster-moving, have a stronger understanding of the local labour market, and be seen as more welcoming by employers.”
Neil Carberry, head of employment policy at the CBI, added that the service needed to adapt to properly serve the changing labour market.
“The service definitely needs to be more proactive,” he said. “In the past they’ve served a different clientele than they cater for now – the recent unemployed who have often just come from workplace – so the service’s priorities should be more about finding and matching jobs than updating workplace skills.”
Chancellor Alistair Darling announced £1.3bn in funding for Jobcentre Plus in the Pre-Budget Report last November, followed by a further £1.7bn in this year’s Budget. Some 4,000 extra Jobcentre staff have already been recruited nationally to help with a surge in demand of people clamining Jobseeker’s Allowance.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions, which oversees Jobcentre Plus, said that more than 26,000 employers have signed up to work with Jobcentre Plus in Local Employment Partnerships in the past year and that thousands more employers have worked with our Rapid Response Service to help people facing redundancy in the past six months.
“We are specifically seeking to increase engagement with SMEs both through targeted marketing campaigns and by creating specific posts throughout the country to work with smaller employers and with Chambers of Commerce to ensure our customers get access to the widest range of vacancies,” said the DWP.