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Jobless seek 'living wage' employment;FE Focus

THE unemployed think employers hold negative stereotypes of them if they have been jobless for long periods, according to new research.

It says that the vast majority of long-term unemployed over the age of 25 have a strong desire to secure jobs and most are actively looking for work. But they want full-time permanent jobs that would pay a "living wage".

The research by the Unemployment Unit and Youthaid provides detailed advice for the Government in time for its next phase of New Deal programmes aimed at the older and longer-term unemployed.

Jobseekers said that part-time or temporary work was unattractive because it meant disrupting claims and threatening income security.

Many had difficulty finding job search assistance. "Most of the younger participants accepted that they needed to acquire new skills. Unfortunately, access to good quality training or education was either expensive or difficult, or for some constrained by the limitations of the 16-hour rule. There was little enthusiasm for Government training schemes."

Cynicism about Government schemes was widespread. People felt their primary aim was to remove them from the unemployment register.

There was also a feeling that the Employment Service handles the least attractive vacancies, and is inefficient. "The problem of turnover amongst front-line staff and advisers adds to the general impression of a non-caring, faceless bureaucracy. By contrast, the unemployed had a more constructive relationship with external agencies, especially those in the voluntary sector."

The report added: "The threat of benefit sanctions for inactivity results in serial, acquiescent attendance at almost anything that is suggested to them. The whole scenario does little to promote informed choice or reduce dependency."

The report's project director Dr Dan Finn said: "If one word epitomised the feelings of most of the long-term unemployed and key workers we talked to it was that of frustration ... The new Government has a unique chance to draw a line under the failed schemes of the past, and to learn from the success of previous programmes. The approach adopted by the New Deal aims to learn from mistakes and to build on "what works" through a process of dialogue and consultation. We hope this research will help the Government craft a new generation of programmes for the long-term unemployed which is sensitive to the unemployed and to the advisers and agencies who work with them."

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