Policy for jobless 'not working'

06-06-2005

Targets set by ministers for bodies working with the long-term unemployed are making the problem worse, not better, researchers have warned. Concern has been voiced in a critical report by the Training and Employment Research Unit at Glasgow University.

Experts said targets ensure large numbers join job schemes, but do not ensure they reach the labour market.

The Scottish Executive said it intended to help 30,000 unemployed people in Glasgow find work by 2010.

Up to 109,000 Glaswegians - 28% of the working age population - are jobless.

But the total, which includes people who are incapacitated or unable to work because of mental health or addiction problems, does not feature in the dole figures.

The study suggested nobody knew for certain whether the training programmes were effective.

Experts have called on training bodies to work more effectively together.

Former heroin user Laney Sharp does the washing up in a church tearoom which boosts her confidence after kicking a 15-year addiction.

Laney, who sees it as a stepping stone to regular employment, said: "It's difficult because coming off drugs means you lose your confidence. You have to get your confidence back.

"I was used to being on drugs and being straight was difficult."

She was given her job by the vice-chairman of Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, the Reverend John Matthews, a minister who is worried about the level of red tape.

"There are outputs and outcomes and targets and people just follow those targets. When you target like that, it turns people round to meet the target," he said.

"You almost forget what the object of the exercise is, which is to get people into sustainable employment."

Mr Matthews told BBC Scotland: "We must be able to track people who have gone through detoxification and who are learning the soft skills in a voluntary organisation like the church and its tearoom.

"What happens to them after we've finished with them? What happens to the person that goes on the training programme or the New Deal, or the modern apprenticeship and so on?

"Do they actually get into jobs? We need to track that."

Head of the university research team, Professor Alan McGregor, added: "There are issues about giving incentives to organisations to move jobless people forward towards the labour market.

"Too much funding goes to organisations just on the basis of the number of people they have inside the organisation.

"Not enough funding goes to organisations moving people forward, not necessarily into work in the first instance, but towards the labour market."

The report was published as Health Minister Andy Kerr prepared to visit a successful scheme, where up to 350 unemployed people - out of work for at least two years - have been trained to take up jobs in the NHS.

Young unemployed

The executive said: "The original pilot in 2004 helped 95 trainees out of 149 find work with NHS Glasgow.

"Now the launch which the health minister will attend will train other skills to offer employment opportunities for 350 long-term unemployed people."

A report last year found that people in Scotland who were young unemployed in the 1990s are still struggling to find work.

The social policy research charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said many are "trapped in a series of casual short-term jobs".

Its report pinpointed the worst affected as those who were out of work for more than a year after leaving school.

The report said government could tackle the problem by reversing the trend towards more casual employment.

Researchers at Glasgow University interviewed young men they first contacted in 1996 as part of the study of unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds.

The executive said it was determined to close the opportunity gap and give everyone the chance to contribute to Scotland's economic growth.

A spokesperson added: "Our economic strategy, A Smart Successful Scotland, directs the enterprise networks to work with other agencies to ensure that everything that can be done is done to help people into employment."

BBC News

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