Thursday, 23 June 2011

Among the Best Companies

There's a curious website called the Best Companies Guide which purports to analyse various factors which make A4e a good place to work (although it seems to come out at only 623 in the Best Companies Index). Nowhere on the site can I find just how many of the 3,388 staff were polled on this, but there's some interesting stuff here. "A4e Superstars [which] is an internal recognition programme", for instance. It's an incentive scheme which enables employees to rack up points which they can use to buy things from "a bespoke A4e rewards catalogue". It's an oddly old-fashioned attitude to management which treats employees in this way. The stuff under "My Team" and "Personal Growth" is equally interesting. One would have no clue from it that people are made redundant every time the contracts change.

There's a new contract in Northern Ireland. "A4e (Action for Employment) has been appointed in the Antrim contract area for the Department’s main adult return to work programme, which aims to assist unemployed and economically inactive people into sustained employment." It's not clear whether the Work Programme extends to Northern Ireland.

The Socialist magazine has a piece about A4e's "partnership with Finsbury Park Business Forum to provide wardens for the local tube and overground train and bus stations. These wardens are supplied by A4e from jobseekers who work in exchange for their benefits. They are doing work that had previously been done by Transport for London (TfL) staff." The writer, Neil Cafferky, says that 800 underground staff have been sacked and the unions are very unhappy about the unemployed being used to replace these jobs.


  1. Y'know, it's high time someone askes the END USERS, (sorry customers) of A4e, Serco, BEST, Reed, et al what THEY really think.

    I was in my local Morrisons a couple of months ago and was asked my opinions of the levels of customer service, product availabilty, and so on by a woman carrying out a survey. No doubt Morrisons will take this info and use it to see what they're doing well and where they can improve. As a cutomer, at least Morrisons will take my opinions on board.

    It seems to me that A4e really need to find out what people think of them. Okay, they probably already know the answer to that one. In that case, thay really need to find out WHY people hold such views.

    Being a good company to work for is important. However, delivering a real worthwhile service is too! The best people to ask about the quality of said service of course are the people who end up using it.

  2. I didn't enjoy a4e, as a 'service user' or 'student' as i found out near the end they had been told to call us unemployed people!! I thought a year of that even if it was just once a week to do job search was excessive. But now i think two years on the work programme is over excessive. I don't know what has become of this nation it is not like to good old days when schemes were much shorter! I think the Job Centre are irresponsible by letting other companies deal with us rather than themselves. They may as well call it a day.

  3. "I think the Job Centre are irresponsible by letting other companies deal with us rather than themselves."
    Don't blame the Jobcentres! How can you have missed what the government has been doing over the past several years? JCP staff have been sacked to give more of the work to private companies, and there are plenty who want the Jobcentres privatised too.

  4. I dont think The Work Programme is running in Northern Ireland. Read this article. They run Steps To Work schemes instead.

  5. The Teflon Don24 June 2011 at 13:23

    Simone: I've suddenly been overcome with a desire to relocate to Northern Ireland!!!

  6. Me too Teflon!!! Name the date!!! lol

  7. Work Placements Central Italy

    I have just read this on a Forum. Not a word to Emma about this! The Leonardo Project seems a wonderful opportunity for young unemployed (18 to 39) to have four months work experience in central Italy from August 2011 Someone here might be interested.

    Be careful, Do check out all the pages however and question. If you do go it would be great if you could report back.

    PS I have no vested interest in this whatsoever.

  8. "The Socialist magazine has a piece about A4e's "partnership with Finsbury Park Business Forum to provide wardens for the local tube and overground train and bus stations."

    This piece from The Socialist Magazine is highly disturbing. Putting people out of work and replacing them with others doing the same job for their benefits is not just morally wrong, but it's simply the economics of the nuthouse.

    Cameron and Grayling say they wish to tackle unemployment. So the best solution is to make a group of experienced workers redundant and replace them with people receiving benefits. Who knows, those sacked Tube workers could apply to do the same jobs they did for just their benefits! Bravo!!!

    No doubt the idea is to save money, at least on paper. Paying benefits as wages is of course less expensive that paying £XX,XXX per year. And of course, those on the WP will be classed as employed or on a “training program”. In reality it is simply an exercise in undercutting the wages of experienced workers who in turn will look uncompetitive in comparison and of course be made redundant. Some of these workers made redundant will no doubt end up claiming benefits such as JSA and housing! Madness!!!

    Those who support the WP and workfare in general will say it gets the unemployed out of the house and doing something in receipt of their benefits. At what cost though? Do workfare advocates really wish to see a merry-go-round of workers losing their jobs only to be replaced by benefit claimants who in turn are unlikely to be taken on themselves?

    I and others predicted this would happen. Indeed, anyone with half a brain could have predicted this. In the U.S., workfare has been controversial and some claim it has actually done the opposite of its intended aims and has put people out of work.


    We often hear the term “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”. This is often used as a justification for the top pay of CEO’s, Chairmen / women and top bankers. Of course, this is never used for those at the opposite end of the pay scale. Surely, if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. If it’s worth doing well, then it’s worth paying someone to do it well. A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay!

    It rather reminds me of a scene in the excellent Shawshank Redemption starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The highly corrupt prison governor uses his prisoners to dig trenches and massively undercut local contrition firms. He even accepted kickbacks / bribes to NOT use his prisoners. Not that I am accusing A4e or similar of offering bribes or Transport for London or anyone else of accepting them. However, the undercutting of wages IS a reality it would seem.

    I am not surprised this is happening. I am amazed that people are not up in arms about it all!!!!

  9. Further to my last post the Italian project seems to be one of many under Leonardo.

    Oh how I wish I could turn back the clock!

  10. This is the Forum thread where I found this information and certainly a few people questioned the authenticity. The Ppster below is the guy involved in running it the project.

    One hour ago

    Posts: 2
    Thanks to Marlene to have posted this, and Sancho for posting the official Leonardo web site and Yorkshirewitch and Levissima for your support, to the others well done for finding out who we are, we have never tried to hide it! There is more info about all projects on

    The reason we have been awarded it, the project is about managing people, accommodation and training, that Showscape have a good training and management Division (in UK) and we have been in training for ten years through our training company, and we have been promoting Abruzzo for years, infact we run a non profit site called, and we have been in the real estate business for seven years via hence our turn key soloution for applicants for theis Leonardo project.

    The Leonardo Mobility projects are great opportunities and if you have a good idea and put it forward they will fund it. Talk to us about what you think.

    I personally participated 20yrs ago to a forrunner of the Leonardo project and would reccommend it to anybody which has a chance to do it.

    We appreciate the feedback and will be altering the application form on the web site today. Will appreciate if you can let us know if there are problems from tomorrow Thanks for all your help.

  11. While this looks great, I doubt whether it would be available for anyone on the Work Programme. But worth trying!

  12. Well I googled Leonardo and a4e together and nothing came up, thank God! They seem not to have twigged this organisations funding potential.

    Any unemployed person can apply. If I was on The Work Programme ..... I would both apply and if successful say nothing to the Provider. Why should they reap the rewards ..... ?

    One thing that bothers me about the advert is they mention an age bracket 18 to 39. That surely is illegal?

  13. This organisation seems to exist on EU funding, and if someone on the Work Programme applied there could well be an issue of dual funding.

  14. Having worked (and made redundant in May) at A4e I feel now I can comment on the company without any real emotion - other than pity for the staff having to work for them still!

    The incentive scheme really was rubbish/confusing/penalised smaller staffed offices etc/offices with large groups of clients and no jobs! Laughably, I won runner up for one of the strands of the incentive programme, this bumped the office points up to an amount worth roughly £500 to be shared between 12 of us (office was awarded points for people back into work every month) - they even held an awards ceremony down in London for the winners..prize rewards were high street vouchers and 'red letter day' style prizes (which would have taken about two years to save your points for!)

    When we were given the model for WP (prior to losing the bid for it) many staff members firmly had their minds made up about moving the welfare of clients for target driven sustainable number "forget about Mr X's electric being cut off/kids are's get a job or his money gets stopped" This didnt sit well with me - and not all A4e employees are target/bonus/EVT driven for subsidising their paltry wages (a recruiter could earn serious amounts of money on the old ESF scheme)so the redundancy was a very good excuse to leave!


Keep it clean, please. No abusive comments will be approved, so don't indulge in insults. If you wish to contact me, post a comment beginning with "not for publication".