The UK’s Job Centre may be forced to undergo a complete system overhaul as it comes under pressure from more affluent private organisations and services.
Private companies and charities that seek to help the jobless find work are being recognised as more capable, more organised and more effective than the UK’s own government agencies, suggesting the current system may be in need of a rethink.
According to a report from a think tank close to the conservative party, the Job Centre could benefit from a complete overhaul, ensuring job seekers are given the “personalised and specialist support” they need. This involves a more thorough assessment of an individuals particular circumstances and needs, and a more dedicated focus on securing them long term work.
Being referred to the right providers and external services is also a current problem, with many job seekers being referred to up to six different agencies in some cases in order to get the support they need. Each one is responsible for dealing with a different difficulty that may impede the person’s ability to find work, such as a long term illness or a lack of specific skills.
Guy Miscampbell, author of the think tank report, said that the current structure of job seeker services is unco-ordinated and simply sees many people being “passed from pillar to post”. He said that not only is this confusing for the individual; it also creates barriers to their success and costs the taxpayer money.
The report suggested several changes that would help the Job Centre better compete with private unemployment agencies as well as collaborating with them and making use of their services.
These include allocating each unemployed person an adviser, who could identify their needs and suggest a single provider who is best able to help them with their situation. Data on success rates of each provider would also be provided so that job seekers could make a more informed decision.
That provider would then be allocated a budget for each unemployed person, ensuring that the money is spent only on what brings about the best outcome for the individual.
The Jobcentre Plus would overall be expanded and renamed Citizen Support, to reflect the wide-ranging variety of services it would be equipped to offer.
Chris Goulden, head of poverty research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:[quote]It’s important for people to be attuned to these needs to give people their best chance of getting into sustainable, well-paid jobs that help them and their families out of poverty.”[/quote]