General Election 2015

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Employment is a hot topic of the election debate and any incoming government makes a big play about how it will create thousands of new jobs.

In the new budget George Osborne was very ambitious saying he is aiming for full employment within the next parliament.

This may turn out to be a pipedream but Tony Wilmot, founder of staffbay, offers his advice on what the next government, whatever the colour, should be doing, starting with raising the National Minimum Wage. He says:

“Raise the National Minimum Wage. The government recently announced in the budget that the minimum wage is set to increase to £6.70 an hour in October, but why not introduce it straight away? With more and more firms now committed to the Living Wage, an immediate 20p an hour increase would incentivise more people to come off benefits and get back into work. Although the rise is the biggest in seven years, jobseekers need security in work – and they don’t want to be made to wait for it. Stick that in your manifesto, and you’re onto a winner.”

Wilmot also believes that workers shouldn’t have to wait a year before seeing an increase in the personal allowance threshold as this could also incentivise people back into work sooner. He comments:

“Another Budget giveaway that made the headlines, but behind the bravado, what it actually means is that those in work have to wait until April 2016 before the amount of money we’re allowed to earn tax-free rises £800 to £10,800. Again – why rush this through in the first 100 days of the new government? At Staffbay we see every day the amount of people for who work is often the expensive option. An extra year of the raised personal allowance would surely accelerate the number of people coming off benefits and back into work.”

700,000 UK employees currently on zero-hour contracts and these can cause a lot of stress and insecurity to workers, meaning people can often feel trapped. Wilmott suggests bridging the gap between zero hour contracts and full-time employment by offering cash incentives. He says:

“Zero hour contracts … provide confusion and financial stress on the 700,000 on them who are often trapped between a life on benefits and zero hours roles. So, how about the government provides some cash for those who actively want to find a full-time job and leave zero hours behind? A kind of bridging loan, if you will – and, for heaven’s sake, make it a simple process. The often labyrinthine process applying for tax credits also needs simplifying. We know there are plenty of people out there who would give anything to get off benefits and start a new life in a full-time job – but simply can’t afford it.”

How potential workers market themselves in the job market can often be very confusing and overbearing. A government that provides better advice and tips about how to market themselves as individuals could potentially help more people secure full-time work. Wilmot comments:

“Some of the advice given to jobseekers through official government channels is hopelessly out of date. People don’t just need to know how to write a compelling cover letter. Some of us are old enough to remember Harold Wilson’s ‘White heat of technology’ speech to the Labour Party conference in 1963 – that’s the sort of attitude the government should be pushing. People looking for a job these days look online – gone are the days of picking up the local paper. However, a recent report showed that less than 40 percent of graduates are marketing themselves to recruiters online.

“This clearly needs to change – shouldn’t employees be changing the way they promote themselves to employers? Since launching four years ago, we’ve seen a wholesale change in the way the candidates on our portal promote themselves. The use of video has become more and more popular and many use it as a way of breaking down barriers between themselves and any prospective employer even before they’ve applied for a job. The rise in online recruitment on social media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook cannot be ignored – but do jobseekers know where to look – and, more importantly, how to create a truly unique online brand with which to has been seen to increase the rise in sites such as Facebook and Twitter.”

Apprenticeships have been improving and are often key in finding and producing top talent for businesses. However, Wilmot does think enough is being done to push to apprenticeship route and advises the next government focus on this area more. He says:

“There has been much lip-service paid to apprenticeships by the Coalition government, and with some success. But there needs to be an immediate nationwide push to increase the momentum already gained and offer young people an easy, enjoyable way into work. Apprenticeships are vitally important in two ways; firstly they help growing businesses show that they are serious about supporting the workforce of the future; and secondly, from an employees’ point of view, they can offer a way into industries that are sometimes sealed off from younger people. How can any new government help swathes of young people into a sustainable, rewarding apprenticeship? Simple: they should be offering significant tax breaks for those companies which take them on.”


Title image credit: Flazingo Photos





Amie Filcher is an editorial assistant at HRreview.