Tuesday 15 November 2011

Emma Harrison on Newsnight - and volunteers

Newsnight is currently running a major piece on youth unemployment. And in the introduction, up pops Emma Harrison, described as chairman of A4e and a government advisor. She says that the problem is entrenched, young people need one on one support, and they need it earlier. It's A4e's latest argument, that they should be put on the Work Programme well before the current 12 months period.

The young people in the studio discussion are not happy with the attitude of the Jobcentres. They talk about the demoralising effect of sending off hundreds of applications with no result. Chris Grayling talks about the government's work experience scheme, but the young people are not impressed. A young man who talks about the problems of expecting people to live on apprenticeship money when they don't have parents to depend on - he is ignored. Paxman talks about the effects of immigration. David Milliband favours the previous government's Future Jobs Fund, and a guarantee of a job. One man says work trials don't lead to jobs, but Grayling says that more than half do get jobs. He says that the WP is the answer to everything. It will match individuals to the vacancies. The discussion goes on, but gets nowhere.

The spat between the voluntary sector and the WP providers goes on. The Third Sector website expands on the story that A4e asked a local volunteer centre to provide people to work with their clients on CVs. It turns out that it was the Oxford A4e which asked for volunteers with good IT skills and a lot of patience. The volunteer centre refused because, without payment, it would be taking advantage of volunteers. The response of A4e's Nigel Lemmon is interesting: "We are investigating these allegations thoroughly. We only work with volunteer agencies where they are happy to work with us to support our customers back into work – improving the lives of those individuals and benefiting their communities." Dan Sumners of Volunteering England said that it was potentially exploitation to expect volunteers to help to deliver a service for a profit-making company. Yet there are voluntary sector organisations contracted to A4e and the others. So it apparently okay, as Lemmon suggests, for volunteers to be used if the organisation is getting paid.


  1. Work Programme offering one to one support? Some joke. I visited a large provider in Birmingham yesterday. They give their clients an initial 40 minutes diagnostic interview. If they are assessed as immediately work ready they get a two week intensive into work course after that they get a maximum 20 minute interview once a month with an advisor. The rest get a 20 minute interview once a month. Their advisors have a workload of 150 to 200 clients and a couple of months ago had a pay cut of up to 25%, they are being paid around £16,000 a year. Talking to them it is pretty obvious that they are looking for places such as colleges and other training providers where they can ‘park’ their customers. This costs them nothing as Colleges provide that training through their SfA funding.
    The centre I visited has 2500 clients they are getting a maximum of 40 into work a month. Come the revolution I have a lamp post outside my house with Graylings name written on it!!

  2. An intensive two week course? my freind went on the work programme and is more than work ready, he as qualfications coming out of his ears! yet all he is does is see a guy once a fortnight,so every month? the work programme is a joke and will fail,

  3. For those of you who missed it here it is again. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b017gqjc/Newsnight_15_11_2011/

    Emma's input is minimal .....

    New unemployment figures released today ..... All the emphasis on the Young and the "Old" left on the scrap heap ..... no help for them really.

  4. What IDS/Grayling keep saying about the WP just isn't stacking up with what is being reported (albeit anecdotally) on the ground.
    Peopel can be referred to the WP anytime the JC feels like.

  5. I think the biggest crime is how disencranchised the human soul has become: all those kids kept saying they felt worthless and empty just because they didn't have jobs. How have we allowed ourselves to be defined by such a meaningless and pointless experience?

  6. Work isn't meaningless and pointless, or shouldn't be. And society does tend to define you by the work you do. But I agree that your work is not who you are.

  7. Perhaps an old saying is apt at this point:

    You work to live, not live to work!

  8. "And society does tend to define you by the work you do." Despite Italy's woes, you will find that there, you are not "defined"/judged by what you by the work you do,.

    As iMatt says "You work to live, not live to work!" That too is the Italian perspective.

    A far healthier attitudes I think.

  9. It shouldn't be, but that won't change unless we have a sea change in how society functions. Right now work is defined by the capitalism of which unemployment is a component.

  10. Always be wary of a politician who can't give a figure but says things like 'over half...'. If they can't say the number then they are lying.


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