Disadvantaged workers still struggling to get a break

The Government's plan to get disadvantaged groups into jobs is being hampered. But it's not just the recruiters' fault.

by David Waller
Last Updated: 22 Dec 2010
A CIPD/KPMG survey has found that less than one in four employers have hired from disadvantaged groups in the last three years. That includes young people with few or no qualifications, the long-term unemployed, ex-offenders or older workers. Doesn’t bode well for the Government’s welfare to work plans...

The survey even found that 32% of employers actively exclude some of these people from the recruitment process. Sounds a lot, but it's actually a vast improvement on 2005 when, says the CIPD, 62% of employers did so. But that's still a pretty poor effort if you’re supposed to be putting everyone on a fairer footing.
So who’s on the blacklist? 16% of those surveyed exclude people aged 18 and under with few or no qualifications, whil 9% ignore those aged over 65. But the door is slammed hardest to anyone who’s crossed the law: 19% of employers won’t look at a CV from an ex-convict.
So what, some may ask? Employers can take whoever they choose, and in such a slow labour market they are of course in a stronger position, picking from a wider pool of talent. Yet disregarding such people may actually be counter-productive: employers said the performance of these groups was as good as the rest of their workforce and, in the case of ex-convicts especially, that they’re often far more loyal.

It could be that respondents are lying to make themselves sound more understanding. Or it could be that they’re practising some sort of hypocrisy – which may be hitting their bottom-line as much as their moral standing. Either way, these stats spell bad news for large sectors of society. With work tough to come by and cuts coming in everywhere, the scrap for jobs is going to be even tougher than usual for everyone, even for those being considered on their own merits.

The CIPD says the solution is two-fold: improve employers’ attitudes towards such groups, and work on their employability. The most popular policy among employers is to develop a six-month internship paid at the national minimum wage rate, co-funded by the employer and the Government. We look forward to Whitehall finding surplus funds for that.

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