The government has approved six local authorities to run schemes worth £35m to help disadvantaged and long-term jobseekers into work.
The pilot schemes, which are aimed particularly at tackling unemployment among disabled and older job hunters, are expected to help around 18,000 people. The programmes include a ‘Health and Care Sector Progression Academy’ to train social workers in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and an ‘early intervention’ scheme in Sheffield to stop people slipping into long-term unemployment.
“We have record numbers of people in work, which is great news, but there are still people missing out on the available opportunities because of barriers to employment,” said work and pensions secretary David Gauke. “These pilots are yet another step forward in our efforts to help people of all backgrounds enjoy the benefits of work.”
Communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid added: “These pilots will trial new approaches to help the most disadvantaged people in our society to get the security of a good job and a regular pay packet, helping to build a country that works for everyone.”
The announcement follows a government consultation into improving employment rates among disabled people, which ran from October last year to February this year. At the time the consultation was launched, just 48 per cent of disabled people were in employment, compared with 80 per cent of the non-disabled UK population. The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Health are currently reviewing the feedback they received.
A survey of more than 1,000 over-55s by Capita Resourcing, published in July, found almost three-quarters (74 per cent) felt employers were not doing enough to recruit them, while a third (32 per cent) felt they had been sidelined at work. Nearly a fifth (17 per cent) said they had been passed over for promotion because of their age.
Meanwhile, almost all (94 per cent) of the 100 senior HR professionals Capita surveyed felt older workers would be key to bridging the skills gap, but less than a quarter (23 per cent) were actively aiming to hire people aged over 50.
“The UK’s older working population is set to increase rapidly in the coming years, while at the same time the number of skilled school-leavers will continue to struggle to fill employment gaps,” said Chris Merrick, director at Capita Resourcing. “Yet with eyes focused on technology and innovation, few businesses have older workers on their agenda, leading to a huge missed opportunity.”
A poll published in January by totaljobs revealed that half of workers aged over 45 believed their organisation catered more for younger workers’ needs than they did older workers’, and the same proportion (50 per cent) were concerned about their future at work.