Major employers commit to helping long-term unemployed back into work

Tesco, Royal Mail and Centrica are among the employers helping Gordon Brown to set up the National Employment Partnership (NEP) scheme, announced in the government’s Pre-Budget Report.

Chief executives from private and public sector organisations will help the government to tackle rising unemployment caused by the economic slowdown.

They have committed to advertise vacancies through Jobcentre Plus, speed up recruitment and provide greater access to work-related training through Train to Gain.

Already 1.82m people are out of work, with fears this number could rise to three million by the end of 2009.

The NEPs will support the Local Employment Partnership schemes that have helped 70,000 people rejoin the workforce since April 2007. NEP members will also work as ambassadors within their sectors, and with their supply chains, to encourage other businesses to hire the unemployed.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said 20 of the largest employers had already agreed to take part in the Partnership, which will be chaired by the prime minister from early next year.

Train to Gain funding will be made available to staff earmarked for redundancy so they can get advice and re-train before they leave.

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said it was providing £79m it had not spent from previous budgets, while the remainder was coming from the European Social Fund.

More than £225m will be made available over the next three years through Train to Gain and the Next Steps youth advice service.

The CBI and the British Chambers of Commerce welcomed the move.

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