John Lewis backs welfare-to-work schemes by private sector

The increased use of private sector firms to get unemployed people back into work has been backed by a senior HR professional after a successful trial.

Mark James, recruitment and development manager at retailer John Lewis’s Sheffield store, said private company A4e provided a useful service for the retailer.

Welfare-to-work specialist A4e was paid by the government to find long-term unemployed job candidates for John Lewis Sheffield to help at Christmas.

After A4e selected a number of candidates and provided role-specific training, John Lewis took on eight for two weeks’ work experience before offering four of them paid employment.

A4e is rewarded by the government for getting people off unemployment and incapacity benefits, on an incentive-based contract, receiving the full payment for finding people jobs once they have been in employment for three months.

James told Personnel Today: “I have been pleased with the programme and we will enlarge it for next year.

“If anybody has the opportunity to be involved with these firms then they should seize it, as they offer significant benefits for companies in terms of seeing skilled, qualified workers,” he added.

An expansion in the use of specialist welfare-to-work firms has been called for by the CBI, and the government is expected to give the idea the green light soon.

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