Published: August 27, 2019

Barriers to welfare to work programs do not just exist on the employee side, they are also present on the employer side and need to be addressed to improve outcomes.

Examining the participation and engagement of employers in welfare to work programs is a focus of the research of Dr Jo Ingold from the Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC) at Leeds University Business School. Dr Ingold recently presented a seminar at The University of Queensland, hosted by the School of Social Science and the Institute of Social Science Research, where she outlined her research on employers and providers of employment services in the UK. She said while there is much focus on the role of the supply side (employees) in welfare to work programs, there is a lack of data and analysis on the demand side (employers). She said her research, incorporating surveys and interviews as well as comparisons with Denmark, seeks to fill this gap by looking at employer engagement in welfare to work programs in terms of recruitment and providing employment opportunities to vulnerable groups.

Overall, Dr Ingold said UK employers lacked trust in the ‘fractured’ UK system and their recruitment and selection processes can be significant barriers to the employment of disadvantaged candidates. With barriers existing on both the supply and demand side, the providers of employment services have an important role to play as an intermediary – especially for harder to help job seekers. Dr Ingold said UK employers generally struggled with the large number and configurations of welfare to work programs and providers, and instead needed a single point of contact to more easily access and engage with the system.