From education to employment

John Hutton MP Talks of Business’s “Key Role” in Helping People Into Work

John Hutton MP, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has announced a project that sees the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and leading supermarket and retail chain Tesco offering people on incapacity benefit a way into work.

The announcement was made during Mr. Hutton’s visit to a Jobcentre Plus office in Derby, where he told those claiming the benefit that the new initiative would enable them to build their skills and experience in so ““ called “work tasters”. This would not result in an automatic change in their status, with their benefit remaining secure.

The project is part of the Pathways to Work pilot in Derby, which will cover a third of all IB customers by October of 2006. The partnership will, if successful, be expanded to all pilot areas. The trial will offer Tesco work tasters of up to one week to Pathways to Work participants referred by a Jobcentre Plus adviser; help with Tesco application and interview processes; reviews of the work taster with the participant, adviser and Tesco identifying any further assistance applicant may need to become successful at interview if appropriate; a guaranteed interview if agreed at taster review; and further in-work support to help customer with any problems during early stages of work.

Hutton Welcomes Business Cooperation

John Hutton spoke of his delight at the cooperative venture when meeting Lori Jackson, Tesco HR Manager, saying: “Business has a key role in helping us achieve our aspiration of getting one million people off incapacity benefit and into work. Partnerships like this offer individuals the opportunity to make their own way out of hardship and builds on the success of Pathways to Work. Im delighted that Tesco are giving their support to this hugely helpful initiative.”

The Tesco Group Director of Corporate Affairs, Lucy Neville ““ Rolfe, spoke of the issues that Tesco staff consultation had raised: “We know from talking to our staff, including our disabled staff and those who were previously unemployed, that getting back into work can be a problem for many different reasons. We are taking part in this project to help people overcome barriers where they can, and hopefully develop rewarding careers with Tesco.”

This project marks an important step forward in the continuing development of employer involvement in education and training, whilst also meeting the traditional FE role of widening participation and bringing more people into the workplace. It is hoped that this venture will prove successful, and will then be able to spread its positive effects across the country.

Jethro Marsh

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