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National Employment Partnership

Executives from Sainsbury's, Royal Mail, Whitbread, Centrica, National Express and Travelodge attended the first meeting of the National Employment Partnership in Downing Street on Monday. Not much has come out about it yet aside from a couple of hand shaking photographs and it being a “very useful meeting”.   The companies agreed to advertise all non-specialist vacancies through Jobcentres and increase the availability of apprenticeships.  There is an awful lot of good work going on out there - but boy is it hard to find!

This comes on the back of sensational headlines about Jobcentres using private firms to fill vacancies, and DIUS “secretly negotiating” with colleges to provide new 12 week courses aimed at helping professionals to refresh their qualifications.  

The first bit is actually old news, rehashed for a recession related headline. In November 2008 the Recruitment & Employment Confederation signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work more closely with Jobcentre Plus (you can find details on their website). Also early in 2008 a Commissioning Strategy for outsourcing welfare to work services to the private sector and voluntary groups was announced, so again, hardly new.  And even as far back as 2005, Jobcentre Plus were talking about using private recruitment agencies to clear hard to fill vacancies (see their Business Plan for 2005 to 2006).

The secret negotiations by DIUS are pretty secret as we can’t find much about them, but there are so many skills agenda reforms underway that it is possibly connected to a related initiative. When we find out more we’ll let you know.

But on the subject of agencies, Jobcentres are still fighting to get a good reputation with employers in many areas.  So until they become the best in the business for dealing with vacancies, many employers will still prefer to work with private agencies. There are also many training providers struggling to achieve a good level of job outcomes, which obviously gets even harder during a recession.  While some providers have good links with recruitment agencies, these are generally not formal partnerships that are an integrated part of the delivery structure. Maybe providers too could benefit from developing closer working relationships with the agencies, and use their expertise  within Welfare to Work delivery for the longer term. 


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