Welfare-to-work partnership scheme threatened by economic uncertainty

Stagnating job growth is threatening the success of a government-backed welfare-to-work programme – and high-profile names have called on employers to help.

Both Chris Humphries, chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, and employment minister Stephen Timms, urged employers to sign up to a Local Employment Partnership (LEP), a pledge to give job opportunities to the long-term unemployed.

About 12,000 long-term unemployed people have returned to work through the programme since it launched in April 2007 – but the government set a target of 250,000 by the end of 2010.

This means almost 8,000 people per month need to find jobs through the partnerships – and the looming recession will not make it any easier, Humphries told Personnel Today.

“Employers may be under pressure, and finding it hard to even keep their current staff levels,” said Humphries. “If there’s an economic downturn, and recruitment slows down, then that’s going to be the biggest challenge and threat to this programme.

But he added: “Every company in the world today is fighting to retain commitment and motivation in their people, and many companies find a greater loyalty, energy and commitment from their LEP clients from they do from ordinary recruits.”

Timms also insisted that LEPs would benefit employers.

“We want more employers to sign up,” Timms told Personnel Today. “Our target is 250,000 by the end of 2010, so there’s a long way to go. But [LEP applicants] are just the sort of people employers need.”

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