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Skills testing essential if Jobcentre Plus is to succeed

Skills testing essential if Jobcentre Plus is to succeed
With the UK unemployment rate reaching a 14-year high at 2.5 million and over 1.5 million people claiming Jobseekers Allowance, more candidates than ever are relying on government initiatives such as the Jobcentre Plus to help them find work.
The economic situation, for recruiters, candidates and employers has never looked so bleak. Queues at Jobcentre Plus offices around the country have never been so long. However, according to its website, the Jobcentre Plus service offers 11,500 new job vacancies each working day. So why is the number of unemployed growing?
The inability of the Jobcentre Plus scheme to accurately skills test the growing number of job applicants could greatly hinder recovery from the recession.
Recent research from the Federation of Small Businesses stated that one in three companies find the Jobcentre Plus system ineffective. However, candidates are also feeling the brunt.
Jobcentre Plus is the biggest and most accessible medium across the country for job seekers. However the placements through this medium are being hindered due to a lack of trust and faith by businesses and organisations. Sustained complaints such as, submitted candidates skills are not aligned to the job specifications and candidates employed are unable to perform the tasks for which they are employed are undermining confidence. In this climate business and organisations will not use ineffective means to employ, and adopt other methods and so the cycle continues. This, when it is the best placed organisation in the country and should be coming into its own, is frustrating for all concerned.
Breaking that cycle can be done and would play a pivotal role in helping many jobseekers back to work. For example, identifying if a candidate has the specific skills required for the role before they apply, gives both the candidate and employer confidence. Additionally, applications are often chosen by the candidate. Many candidates are often limited or limit themselves to certain jobs. This may be down to lack of experience in a particular area or industry, however they could well harbour the key skills needed and find their true vocation. Assessments can be used to uncover hidden skills and open opportunities not previously considered.
HR departments of major corporate organisations and recruitment agencies have been using skills tests to successfully match candidates with vacancies for decades. Applicants using the Jobcentre Plus system are lucky if they get assistance from staff with their requirements, let alone a professional and efficient job matching service.
A large applicant pool does not always deliver the best candidates for the role.  Effective measurement of basic skills and potential to train to fit the ethos of the business is vital.  There are various ways to identify the right person for the role and benchmarking the most effective and successful employees can be used as guidance. With the right assessment of skills, potential can be readily identified to deliver the right individual for the induction process. 
With Yvette Cooper, Work and Pensions Secretary recently announcing the governments commitment to helping younger people, particularly supporting graduate employment and apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds, help is on its way.
However, the rest of the country needs urgent help now. The number of unemployed white collar workers is on the increase, as recently outlined by a BBC documentary investigating the governments 40million scheme to help the estimated 350,000 jobless in the middle-classes. The programme explored the trials and tribulations of five unemployed people, ranging from a business graduate to a HR manager. Within five months, none of them had found work through the Jobcentre Plus. One candidate, a senior marketing director, had even invested in privately-funded coaching sessions to help him find work.
In an economic climate of inevitable tax-rises and service cuts, tax payers money needs to be put to the best possible use. If the Jobcentre Plus wants to truly succeed in its aims, it needs to adopt technologies that will bring confidence back to its customers, can speed up the system and help place applicants in the right job, first time in a cost-effective way. Currently, the system is failing both businesses and candidates by its inability to supply industry with the right skills set.
There is growing frustration amongst the skills assessment industry, over the Jobcentre Plus offering. It is an unfortunate reality that specialist skills testing and training companies do offer the technology to help solve some of the unemployment problems posed by the recession but, from our experience, the Jobcentre Plus is not willing to consider it. Our concern is that without new technologies such as online skills testing, and a new way of approaching the job market as a whole, the Jobcentre Plus scheme will hinder more job applicants than it will help.


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