The DWP has launched a “Way To Work” programme which they say will support people into work quicker, fill vacancies, and reduce numbers of people on Universal Credit. The scheme expects universal credit claimants to search more widely for available jobs from the fourth week of claiming, rather than from three months as is currently the case.
Why it won’t work for job seekers
Alarmingly, a percentage of jobseekers’ benefits could be cut if they are deemed to not be making reasonable efforts to get a job, or if they turn down a job offer.
Katie Schmuecker, deputy director of policy and partnerships at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “Good jobs should offer a reliable route out of poverty but today’s announcement won’t help deliver that, and completely misses the point. Whilst there may be many vacancies in the market at the moment, they may not match up with jobseekers’ location, skill level or flexibility requirements, and the threat of sanctions is no way to change that.”
Why it won’t work for recruiters and employers
An influx of reluctant candidates applying for jobs means more likelihood of recruiting disengaged people into the role, which will surely only store up future problems. Not only will there be time wasted in the recruitment process, a reluctant employee is unlikely to be enthusiastic in their role, any negativity is likely to impact on their colleagues, and there could be an increase in staff turnover which only perpetuates the problem. However, these are generalisations and it is possible that transferring into a different sector will work wonders for some job seekers.
Why it won’t work for the current labour market
Since the start of the pandemic there has been a large increase in numbers of people who are “economically inactive”, i.e. people who aren’t looking for jobs and are not available for work. Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said this was understandable: “If you lost your job then, there was little point in looking for one, given the economy was closed,”
Numbers of people aged 50+ leaving the labour market is higher than ever, presumably choosing early retirement, or they may have caring responsibilities. In addition, a lot of young people stayed in education rather than entering the labour market during the pandemic.
Commenting on the government’s plan, Institute of Employment Studies (IES) Director, Tony Wilson said: “Just 7% of all of those out of work are short-term unemployed, and with short-term unemployment already at its lowest ever level trying to drive this down even further could actually risk more harm than good – if it contributes to even higher turnover for employers, or if it pushes people into jobs that will be a worse fit for them, or into precarious work.”
Is there anything good about it?
More positively, the new programme commits to providing more time with career coaches which will certainly be helpful for job seekers.