Nationwide campaign to build the British workforce of the future

"My message is clear: our teams stand by ready to support you and to grow your business" - Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

The biggest ever drive to help employers unlock the talent across Britain will be at the heart of a new Government campaign to create the workforce of the future, the Work and Pensions Secretary unveiled today.

In a major speech to business leaders, Mel Stride hailed the “huge opportunity” to fill vacancies with unemployed Brits, as tighter visa rules restrict businesses’ reliance on overseas labour and are starting to bring down legal migration.

Speaking at a Jobcentre in central London, Stride announced a major new advertising campaign encouraging employers struggling with staffing shortages to tap into the specialist services and solutions their local Jobcentre can offer.

Industry-leading employers and bodies have already thrown their support behind the nationwide effort, highlighting the power of engaging with the Jobcentre Network to connect the right candidate with the right business.

Alongside the campaign, the DWP is leading a new cross-Government ministerial group set up to develop new recruitment schemes in industries facing staffing shortages.

The taskforce, which has already met, will seek to emulate “HGV driver shortage style” initiatives, which helped to fill vacancies in the sector through solutions developed with employers including targeted skills ‘bootcamps’, Jobcentre training schemes and cutting red tape holding back domestic recruitment.

The expert group, including Home Office and Treasury ministers, will work directly with employers to implement changes that will unlock the domestic labour supply and boost skills among UK jobseekers, targeting extra help to key sectors including hospitality, care, construction and manufacturing.

In his speech, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride, said:

It’s great that many employers are already using our services. And I want more to join them.   

So from next week, we’ll be running a significant national marketing campaign that will put Jobcentres centre stage.  Reaching over 90% of business and recruitment decision makers, our campaign will focus squarely on those sectors where recruitment is a challenge, especially from significant reductions in migration. 

It will bring home all the ways Jobcentres can support employers – whether that’s help with running a recruitment campaign or attending one of the thousands of job fairs we hold across the country.  

My message is clear: our teams stand by ready to support you and to grow your business.

After his speech, Mel Stride heard from industry leaders Confederation for British Industry and the British Chamber of Commerce as well as company bosses from Greene King to BAE Systems in a roundtable, who are central to this major drive to boost employment.

Rain Newton-Smith, the Chief Executive of the Confederation for British Industry, added:

Labour shortages are ultimately a long-term issue for the UK economy driven by demographic changes. In formulating a playbook for how to respond to this challenge, the Government is right to look at how it can reduce barriers to work.

A cross-Ministerial group to identify solutions to sector specific recruitment challenges is exactly the kind of governmental-grip that industry needs. Whilst better matching domestic workers to local vacancies by bolstering the role of Jobcentres is a smart play that can help ease some of the blockages within the labour market.

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, commented:  

Our research shows that while firms continue to face skills shortages, many are not engaging with their local Jobcentre to find new staff. Improving awareness among employers of the role Jobcentres can play is crucial.

We look forward to working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions and across Government to build a cross-sector labour market plan. The priority must be to connect people with opportunities and link up employers with the staff they need.

Andrew Bush, Chief People & Transformation Officer at Greene King, also added:

We welcome this significant investment in promoting local Jobcentres, which play a vital role in linking up people looking for work with employers who can offer them a rewarding career in hospitality.

Through our work with the Department for Work & Pensions over the years, including the Kickstart scheme and Sector-Based Work Academy Programmes, we’ve seen first-hand the benefits of Jobcentres joining up talented people from communities across the UK with the right job for them.

Jamie Cater, Employment and Skills Lead at Make UK said:

As the number of live vacancies across UK manufacturing remains at more than 60,000, the importance of the relationships between employers in the sector and Jobcentre Plus is only growing. With the support of local JCPs, manufacturers are already taking opportunities like National Manufacturing Day to engage with their communities and fill vacant job roles.

Enabling local connections to be made between manufacturers with rewarding job opportunities to offer and workers with different skills and experiences to bring is vital, and the Jobcentre Plus offer is an important part of achieving this.”

Tom Ball, People Director at JD Wetherspoon, remarked:

Jobcentres throughout the land have helped Wetherspoon, as well as the people they refer, through their work.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of employees, many of whom have taken advantage of our training schemes and progressed in their career, have started via Jobcentres.

Wetherspoon encourages pub managers to provide the Jobcentre with the job description and benefits for each job, so that they can, in turn, help Wetherspoon to find suitable local candidates.

The campaign will see adverts launched across TV, radio and online next Monday 27 May, alongside a new digital site for businesses to find information about the support Jobcentres can offer.

It comes after a DWP survey showed most employers are not aware of the range of Jobcentre Plus solutions that could help them recruit workers.

For example, 93% weren’t aware of Sector Based Work Academy Programmes and 82% unaware of work trials. 

This is despite nearly 300,000 SWAP training schemes taking place in the last three years across sectors including hospitality, construction, and education, backed by businesses whilst they are actively hiring.

From advertising on the Find a Job site, to job fairs and financial support like Access to Work, Jobcentre Plus is a great way for businesses to recruit talented staff with access to 1.4 million unemployed people.

In another boost to Jobcentres, Mel Stride announced that Artificial Intelligence is set to be rolled out nationwide across the network from autumn, to help modernise the benefits system and improve outcomes for claimants.

The AI tool, called a-cubed, can trawl thousands of pieces of guidance to instantly arm a work coach with information on the best support to help their claimant into work quicker, a task that otherwise can take hours. This is part of ambitious plans to develop AI across the Department for Works and Pensions.

Today’s move comes as the Prime Minister announced the most radical package of welfare reforms in a generation, building on the Government’s £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan which is expected to help over a million people to find and stay in work.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here