New Deal shake-up as DfEE acts on feedback

The Government has announced a belated series of measures to tackle
employers’ complaints about the New Deal.

The shake-up of the scheme, announced by employment minister Tessa Jowell
last week, will aim to ensure new dealers have basic life skills.

The move comes a year after the Department for Education and Employment
denied employers had a problem with the suitability of New Deal candidates.

A DfEE spokeswoman said the focus switched after ministers learned that four
in 10 joining do not have basic numeracy and literacy. She denied that it has
been slow to address the issue.

The problem was underlined in a report last week by Incomes Data Services,
which said that being sent "unsuitable candidates" was one of the
most common complaints about the scheme.

Personnel Today reported last year that major employers took on fewer
candidates than hoped because the calibre was so poor (4 March 1999).

Labour’s London Mayor candidate Frank Dobson this month said the training system
for young people "is not delivering".

Other changes announced last week include more consultation with employers,
job coaches in companies to support new dealers and outreach programmes to
target ethnic minorities and areas of high unemployment.

Employers which have made a success of the New Deal have often used such

Supermarket chain Asda, which took on 227 New Deal staff between October
1998 and October 1999, plans to fill 6,000 vacancies and will continue tio use
the New Deal.

Marie Gill, Asda head of colleague relations, said, "We work closely
with job centres so that they understand the sort of candidate we want, and
that is important to make it successful."

Asda has recruited more older people through the scheme than from those aged
under 25, the original target group.

By Dominique Hammond

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