There's been a great deal written about the case of the "work experience" jubilee stewards, but I haven't weighed in because it was nothing to do with A4e. Well, not directly, anyway.
Among all the articles about the controversy I recommend two. The first is a New Statesman blog piece, written by Kerry McCarthy. The second is by John Harris in the Guardian, and is emotively titled "Back to the Workhouse".
One thing struck me about the incident, which hasn't been raised in the media; the relationship of Work Programme providers with large companies. In this case the provider was a subcontractor, a charity called Tomorrow's People, and the employer was Close Protection UK. Now, in the past security work was an area for which some providers were willing to pay for training. The SIA (the necessary qualification for the job) could be delivered in a week. The provider might well have an arrangement with one or two local security firms for their clients to have interviews for any vacancies. But now, it seems, the qualification involves unpaid "work experience" and an NVQ2 in something called spectator safety. And the employer is a national company.
This is far from unique. A4e has a relationship with another huge security firm, Securitas, which boasts of employing 300,000 people in 51 countries. Such arrangements are not widely publicised, but probably involve employers in areas like care work and retail, as well as security; jobs which need minimal training and pay minimum wage. The WP provider pays for the training and the employer agrees to offer some jobs to the WP clients. What's wrong with that? Most people would say that anything which helps get people into work must be a good thing. But there are some drawbacks.
For the employers it means a big taxpayer subsidy, because ultimately it's the taxpayer who is paying for the training. Yet it's a private arrangement between two private companies. It leaves smaller companies out of the loop. True, the clients who get work are not bound to the first employer. But they don't know, when put onto the programme, which companies have these arrangements with their provider, and so which areas of work they are going to be steered into. No one is monitoring these relationships - that "black box" again. They only get scrutinised when it goes wrong, as with CPUK. There, it was apparent that the employer was benefiting from free labour called "work experience". How many other employers are getting a similar benefit?
The government is determined to increase dramatically the number of people who are made to do unpaid "work experience". We must demand full disclosure of which employers benefit from this. How many people are they taking onto work experience and how many are they subsequently employing?
Prospects seems to be involved with the brouhaha over at least some of the unpaid Pageant stewards. Prospects seem to be saying, somewhat belatedly, that they plan to investigate what went on.ReplyDelete
I am not shocked to hear about the unpaid stewards. I am just fed up of these cpmpanies teating, and being aloud to treat people in this way. I am due to start the Work Programme in July and I have been told this will be decided by the computer, either Ingeus or A4E, I think it is like a lottery.Delete
I have been reading some interesting stuff, and am preparing myself the best way I can.
I always used to do unpaid stewarding, it's how I got in to music events both in the UK and abroad. I've done this for over half my life, and A4E weren't pleased to hear it when they tried to tell us that you couldn't do anything if you didn't have a job. I've also done minimal wage stewarding where you do things like directing people to parking spots at events like horse shows. None of these require any form of training like the SIA ticket because it's not security. I also don't have an NVQ in Stewarding and no-one has ever asked me for one.Delete
I think personally that there has been a mix up and the company was told they were supplying stewards (meaning what I've mentioned above), but thought they were supplying security people. Not that I have anything to do with the company.
Justine Hi. I follow your blog but cannot reply. Can you add "Name/Url" to comments as. Thank you.ReplyDelete
One thing the stewards not being paid but to be dumped under London Bridge in the early hours and not fed or provided with beds or wash facilities defies belief .....
I'm fairly certain the DWP are now refusing to answer FOI requests asking for the names of companies involved in providing unpaid work experience because of the adverse publicity and protests the companies have been attracting.ReplyDelete
Keep asking. if enough people ask for infomation. the noise will just be too uch for them. they will have to respond.ReplyDelete
Following my earlier comment that the DWP are now refusing to release the names of companies involved in MWA in response to FOI inquires, I have found a 21 page doc online showing an exchange between the Information Commissioners' Office (ICO) and the DWP over the realease of names. It's 21 pages long, but makes for interesting reading, especially pages 11 - 14Delete
I have a question, please.ReplyDelete
Is it possible for the Prime contractors to specify that none of the people who have been referred for unpaid "work experience" by the Prime will be permitted to do any unpaid "work experience" at future major events such as the Olympics?
Funny as a former Publican,at one time I had a retired lady ask to do some bar work as she put it a little pin money,pull a pint and a little cleaning ,at the time money was tight,she offered to work for below the NMW which sounded good but after talking to my accountant I found out this was illegal.Even if two parties have a mutual agreement this can still not contravene the NMW. So no matter how you dress up mandatory work even taking into account HB or any other benefits being received they should at least equal the NMWReplyDelete
Unless it's called training or "work experience".Delete
No - calling it trainning or "work experience" still means NMW has to apply by law.Delete
2 exceptions in law
1) People at school (under 18) can do 2 work work experience as part of their course or those over 18 as part of NVQ - the law is clear this cannot be real work simply shadowing and supervised practice that has to be stipulated as part of the accredited (e.g. assesed by exam board) course.
2) Those claimming unemployment benefits - specific law in the benefits act allows these people to be exempt from NMW if they are claiming benefits.
Interestingly that means that anyone doing Workexperince who then ceases to claim benefits but continues with the unpaid work can then take the employer to tribunal for NMW as the exemption only applies while on beneifts.
I agree but that can be a very grey area,work experience should be a one time shot, if you are offered employment brilliant as for training there should be some recognized certificate at completion.As I have stated before my "Provider" has informed my part of the contract is to find employment(which I fully agree with) there part is to help me,fine how?....Wait for it....."The Dreaded Black Box"ReplyDelete
Excellent comment, i've applied for loads of jobs, through my own steam, i've been told by a4e, i have to find employment myself, all i go to see my advisor for is the banter for work experience crap. Wait for this one, My advisor suggested about one, at the recyling plant! i'm a middle aged woman looking for admin. work, was told, something else to put on your C.V.Delete
If your on the work programme, and your being pushed to take a night job. you dont have to take night work. not if its not in your job seekers agreement. know your rights.ReplyDelete
If on the work programme only apply for what your jobseekers agreement states. the jobs and number per week.ReplyDelete
To both your comments I ask, "Why?" Surely if your aim is to get a job you would go beyond your agreement if there were more jobs you could apply for. And if night work is available and possible for you, why not? By all means know your rights, but you sound as if you want to do only what you have to do and no more.Delete
Hi to both anonymous,Delete
I apply for different criteria jobs, I 100% want to get back in employment. I am not that picky, you can't be in this work climate. My line is admin work, applied for a admin job, some of the tasks, I have never done, In my application, stated I would undertake any required training. I've been invited for INTERVIEW.
Ok,I asked my "Advisor" can I do a work placement or work experience at my local pub NO why? you are already a licencee... But this will enable me to re-enter my profession..you will work in a field that you will be paid for,but this is work experience..NO it is free labour for your mate..suggestion? the council needs help.Delete
I used to work in w2w and once had a lady beg me to help her find work. I wasn't an advisor but thought ok why not. I asked how many jobs she applied for each week her response was for 3 because that's all I have to. I asked if she felt this was enough activity. Yes was the answer. I found the lady 12 jobs matching the criteria she gave me. She applied for 3 then said she had to go and meet her mates so couldn't apply for any more. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Surely if a job was going to pay 7 grand more than your jsa its worth it!Delete