The Governments Work Programme has been in existence for over a year now, however a new survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests that the Government needs to build on the scheme’s early progress by increasing awareness and understanding of the scheme amongst employers.

The survey of more than 1,000 employers from all three main sectors of the economy revealed that 79% of employers that have used the Work Programme feel the recruits met or exceeded their expectations. It also found that 58% said candidates were better prepared for interviews and demonstrated better presentation skills as a result of the programme.

However, despite these positive figures, the Labour Market Outlook Focus report also revealed fairly low awareness among employers, with 49% saying they are unaware of the Work Programme. Furthermore, 48% of employers do not plan to recruit through the programme.

The report also discovered that of the employers that have recruited via the Work Programme, only half plan to keep the new hires for longer than six months and 48% felt that participants lack certain job-specific or technical skills.

Commenting on the results, Gerwyn Davies, CIPD Labour Market Adviser at the CIPD, said:

“The results suggest that there are two key areas of concern that will determine whether the early success of the programme will be sustained. Firstly, the Government needs to put as much clout behind improving awareness and understanding of the Work Programme amongst employers in all sectors as it has with pensions auto-enrolment.

“Our survey results suggest that the scheme could be targeted at those sectors, such as retail and the hotels, catering and leisure sectors, which are more likely to hire unemployed people and/or employ unskilled or low-skilled workers.”

Davies added:

“Secondly, the high rate of churn after the six month mark suggests that there may be a mismatch between participants and the employment opportunities that are being given to them, and that some employers may have unrealistically high expectations regarding the technical skills of individuals who have been out of work for a long time.

“Instead of expecting the system to churn out work-ready individuals, employers need to play their part too by focusing more effort on training and developing new hires, in order to build their future workforces and have a lasting impact on helping the long term unemployed back into work.”