Friday, 6 January 2012

Andrew Dutton - and those "workshy" figures

Andrew Dutton, A4e's group CEO, has written a piece for Director magazine which deserves careful scrutiny.

He starts by saying that "Businesses have a moral obligation to get the long-term jobless back into work", and continues that it disappoints him "that there is a genuine view that the unemployed are workshy and feckless. They simply are not." Good. I couldn't agree more. How has that perception come about, I wonder. But, according to Dutton, firms which have an online application process automatically filter out unemployed people. That's chilling if you're desperately looking for work and being told that you have to make a minimum number of applications. "Directors tell me," says Dutton, "they have a bottom line to hit and because they need the best people, dipping into the unemployment pool isn't what they want to do." So far, we can applaud his honesty. He is exhorting companies to shed their prejudices and work with A4e to "cut their costs of acquiring new employees and be more certain about getting someone who is more culturally aligned to the business." (I'm not at all sure what that last phrase means.)

But there's a paragraph which is questionable. "While it is true often that the long-term unemployed have barriers that do need to be overcome – confidence, low self-esteem, mental health or childcare issues –companies like ours clear those obstacles long before candidates go in front of an employer." How often is often? It is true that a good advisor can motivate people who have lost confidence; but what can they do about mental health issues? As for childcare - well, Hayley Taylor, who learned her trade with A4e, recently advised someone who was worried about childcare that she should never mention this to an employer and worry about it only when she was offered a job, at which point relatives and friends would step in to help. Perhaps that's how you clear the obstacle.

Dutton is straightforward about the fact that A4e is a business, not a charity, and describes the payment model. He wants employers to demonstrate some corporate responsibility and start employing the unemployed. No one could quarrel with that. But at the coalface, as advisors try to get people into work (are they still on commission for job outcomes?) doesn't it reinforce the suspicion that providers have every reason to focus on those who have been unemployed for the shortest time? And what mention is there of "upskilling"? The longer someone is out of work, the more outdated their skills and experience become. Unless A4e and the others are prepared to fund relevant training Dutton'e exhortations will probably be ignored.

Back to that piece in the Daily Mail and the Express which stated that 50% of claimants had signed off or not turned up for MWA and justified the description of "workshy". The FullFact website has examined this claim. The DWP told them that it hasn't released any figures. The only attribution is the Mail's "a source close to the programme". So it's worthless and malicious propaganda. Surprise, surprise.


  1. What position is Hayley Taylor in to be giving advice? She no longer works for A4E, so does she have her own company? Or is this from another series of her ridiculous show?
    At any rate I can well believe she gave that advice. It's just the sort of thing people like her say. You hear it from the JC all the time. It's just irresponsible and won't get people anywhere. They will tell you not to admit to having health issues, even though there may be consequences. It's all ridiculous.
    I was told yesterday to remove my DOB from my CV (i'm 38!). Of course the minute i get called in for interview any employer that assumed i'm younger is going to be upset. That's going to start things off on completely the wrong foot, plus carry the baggage of making them feel i deceived them.
    Never mind expecting friends and family to bail out someone with child care needs. What if they can't?

  2. So employers are not hiring the unemployed. Because they are unemployed. What hope do we really have then. If we are not given a chance then we will be pushed further and further out of the workplace. Reading all these stories about the workshy and scrounging unemployed that gives a bad impression of the rest.

    its hard to be confident, i apply for lots of jobs i get no replies, i get essentially bullied for not doing everything i can to get a job by these so called places that are supposed to boost confidence. It got to such a point i wanted to be hit by a car or a bus to avoid going in.

  3. Omitting something like Date Of Birth is not deception. It is not relevant to your qualifications for the position. On the whole there is still age discrimination by employers. The first step is securing the interview.

  4. I don't disagree, Simone, but omitting your date of birth on an application form will just suggest that you don't want them to know your age. And when you fill in your work history and your education your age becomes obvious. I got my last job when I was 55. My age and experience were points in my favour. But I agree that's unusual.

  5. I was sent on a CV course with Next Step and they told me to remove the DOB. There was a guy in his 50s there who said he never put his DOB on his CV and not only that, he didn't put down his qualifications because seeing that they were pre-GCSE would prejudice employers, so he just put the subjects and he had to miss off a lot of experience because in some cases while it was relevant it would enable the employer to say that this was an older person who would soon be retiring. He said that once he got the interview it would become obvious that he knew a lot about his particular field.

    I now have to redo the course with Next Step because A4E have decided that the CV as approved by them the first time isn't good enough. A4E admit when I am speaking to them that my unemployment is related to the fact I can only work limited hours because I don't have anyone to take on child care responsibilities and because I'm dependent on rural public transport, but since they can't do anything about this presumably they are just going through their various options again and again.

  6. That guy in his 50s, Polly - did he actually get any interviews? My CV never had my date of birth on it. The dates of my education and job experience told the tale. But on application forms it would be silly to leave it blank.

  7. I put my qualification dates on the right hand side, i put my job dates on the right hand side. I have found if i put the dates on the left, it focuses a persons eyes on the gaps rather than the job itself.

    Leaving out your date of birth can depending on the type of job you are going for can be a good thing or a bad thing. If you put it you can say I have 30 years experience and i can give it to you. I think it depends on which company, which organisation.

    True story about cv's, in a4e a friend was there i was with them at the time, the tutor came up to him and said have you got a cv.. he hadnt so she did one for him. Then 2 weeks later she comes up to him and tells hism that cv is crap who did that cv for you, He said "erm You did" SHE paused and walked away.

  8. Historian - he did get interviews, but I think his problem was that he was an engineer so he was working in a very specialised field and just possibly his knowledge wasn't up to date enough.

    I got a letter from A4E yesterday about an appointment next week, congratulations to the PO for delivering it the day after posting because the envelope has my name on it, and then my house number and street name but nothing else.

  9. If i remove my dob (i'm not old), then i will have to remove the dates from everything else on the CV. What's the point? This is just petulant jobsworthiness.
    What happens when an employer interviews me and asks questions pertaining to that info? Are they going to be impressed when it could have easily been provided on a cv? Do i assume that every employer is agist against people in their late thirties?
    Where does it end? It's a dog chasing it's own tail.

  10. I was only thinking CVs Historian. That/s why I avoided applying for jobs via an application form! They are too inquisitive and formal!

    Actually now that I am not expected to look for work, and did apply for a freelance design job yesterday, my attitude changed in the wording of the accompanying letter. It was far more laid back. We'll see!

    Whilst here, there has just been a programme, first in a series on Radio 4, "David Cameron's Big Idea" ie 1.30 pm. You can catch this on iplayer too.

  11. Further

    I omitted school results. I upgraded my art school diploma to a BA degree so as to appear younger.

    Since I have not had regular employment,on my CV I didn't/doesn't give specific dates but rather periods when I did this, periods when I did that. You could tell from the periods added that I was let us put it, a "mature? person.

    My IT training at the long redundant Apple Centre in Chiswick, London and the packages I trained in also gave/gives the game away

    If only a4e and the like had helped me update my skills .....

  12. the national audit office says schemes such as the work programme are a waste of money, and are not working. how long before the work programme goes the way of the dreadfull "new deal" .

  13. I'm surprised to see the Work Programme mentioned in that piece: "Iain Duncan Smith’s work programme has resulted in fewer people than expected finding jobs and large fees for contractors, it found." The contractors themselves have been banned from talking to the press without prior approval. See

  14. Surprising eh? Still at least the stupidity has come to light fairly quickly. I wonder whether Ian Duncan Smith/Ian Grayling will accept responsibility fairly quickly and "rethink": strategies to deal with the Unemployed. Or will they continue the programme and find other reasons for its failure .....

  15. ... perhaps those figures are leaked from insiders?

    If 1 in 5 people signed off as a form of being "workshy" - it might actually be the technicality some people like myself is advising people. If you are mandated to MWA - all you need to do is sign off where the last day of claiming is the day BEFORE the MWA starts. You then pick up your claim a day or two later. This might be why the people signed off or maybe they signed off longer term - we will wait the official statistics.

    MWA which has a HUGE sanction period for first offence is designed to trick claimants into losing money to make benefit savings. So 30% is probably 5% over target.

  16. So you tell people to lose a few days of benefit rather than go on MWA? Fine if you can afford that. And unless they've changed the rules, that doesn't put you back to the beginning of the process.

    1. I totally agree - its not right at all for people having to do this. The problem is some people are more prone to benefit sanctions than others... as a rule of thumb, if you have ever got a benefit sanction on one scheme, you will likely get another on a new scheme, no fault of your own.

      MWA is full time over 7 days per week. Sanctions for failing to arrive for the first day, being late at any point or not "actively participating" ... its difficult for someone not to get a sanction unless they work themselves into the ground.

      3 months for first offence. Even if you win an appeal it could be anything from 2-8 months or longer for Appeal Tribunal, to get that back.


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".