Welfare-to-work experts fear Tory ‘boot camps’ would harm business

Welfare-to-work specialist A4e has warned against the ’employment boot camps’ planned by the Conservative Party.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling told delegates at a Centre for Policy Studies event last week that the Tories would get tough on benefit claimants.

“We plan to introduce much tougher rules for young people under the age of 21 claiming JobSeekers’ Allowance,” he said.

“For this group, the welfare-to-work process will start much earlier. There’ll be employment boot camps and community work programmes for those who don’t find a job. Staying at home doing nothing will be a thing of the past.”

However, A4e – which secured jobs for 11,000 people in the UK last year – has its reservations about the plan.

Group commercial director Sara McKee told Personnel Today: “It is essential that the methods used to achieve employment are ones of encouragement and not forced, generic procedures.

“To get people back into employment, A4e firmly believes that the key is focusing on the individual.

“Individuals need to have a positive outlook to fully embrace employment, hence the method used to reach employment needs to be rounded, encouraging, upbeat, helpful and clear.”

McKee has previously pledged that the firm could find work for up to 100,000 people annually once the UK benefits system is right. The Labour government is committed to opening up the welfare-to-work market to private companies and innovative ideas.

Earlier this year, work and pensions secretary James Purnell announced plans to make anyone unemployed for two years or more do permanent work-experience or face a payouts cut.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) welcomed the Tory proposals.

“Anything that engages young people in long-term unemployment with the labour market is to be encouraged. There is a lot of wasted talent there,” said CIPD learning and development adviser John McGurk.

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