Job centres failing to deliver reliable talent, says think tank

22 July 2014 -


The town-centre locations for getting jobs are not actually doing their job, according to Policy Exchange – suggesting that they could be opened up to competition from businesses and charities

Jermaine Haughton

Job centres could soon face competition from voluntary-sector and corporate recruiters to find sustainable work for jobseekers and reliable talent for employers, according to centre-right think tank Policy Exchange. In new report Joined Up Welfare, the organisation argues that the current system is failing to put people into long-term jobs, and that many benefit claimants yo-yo in and out of jobs in short intervals. In fact, its findings suggest that only 36% of those who claim jobseekers’ allowance fill a vacancy within six months of signing on, and remain employed for at least seven months after being hired.

The lobby group believes that the current framework would be more effective if job centres were reformed to provide more specialised care, with charities and companies stepping in as competitors to help the jobless find work.

A significant part of the problem with the current welfare system, said the report, is that its fragmented nature has made it particularly hard to source suitable opportunities for many of the 11.5 million people who have long-term health conditions, because these issues are not dealt with early enough in the application process.

With up to 18% of the working-age population suffering from mental-health problems, and around 10,000 16 to 18-year-olds leaving care per year, job centres are faced with tough challenges to help people with significant barriers to work back into jobs.

“The way public services are currently structured means that often a jobseeker ends up being passed from pillar to post,” said repord co-author Guy Miscampbell. “This is confusing for the individual, creates barriers to help them into work and is expensive.”

The think tank suggests that the changes would see Jobcentre Plus premises rebranded “Citizen Support”, and would function as a central hub for the unemployed to access government services. They could also speak to an advisor who would identify an individual's specific barriers to work, and assess how they could be overcome.

In particular, Policy Exchange says, opening the market to private-sector recruiters would enable jobseekers to choose which service is most useful for finding them work, as they will be given access to data showing the previous success rates of all the available providers. Additionally, the group concludes, each individual jobseeker would be allocated central-government funds, and that person would pay the provider of their choice out of that cash: a marked change from the existing process, in which the budget is funnelled from Whitehall directly to different providers.

Read the full Policy Exchange report.

Find out more about CMI’s work on talent management.

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