Press, THE GRAPEVINE! news, comment & a bit of gossip, Welfare to Work

Careers Development Groups (CDG) launches new welfare to work model!!!!!


Press release

Dated: EMBARGO’D until 00.00 hours Tuesday 6th July 2010


Tapping into the time and commitment of people across the UK could be a major tool in solving the increasing problem – and growing taxpayer burden – of long-term unemployment, according to Welfare To Work charity, Careers Development Group’s chief executive Roy O’Shaughnessy.

With senior civil servants gathering for the annual Civil Service Live Conference at Olympia this week (July 6-8), CDG is making a call to action, proposing that the sector looks at a professional/volunteer hybrid model, with businesses and the Welfare To Work sector collaborating to identify and utilise expert volunteers. Highlighting the huge challenge – in terms of finance, policy and sheer scale – faced in reducing the numbers of unemployed, O’Shaughnessy states that a collective approach is needed.

“With the public sector facing big cost cuttings, we need new ways of tackling unemployment and the huge taxpayer burden it creates. But we are all responsible for tackling unemployment – employers, the not-for-profit sector, government and everyone involved in Welfare To Work programmes. Relying on piecemeal policy or chucking money at the problem isn’t going to work. However, there is a huge and free resource out there and we’ve got to find a way of tapping into it.”

“There are tens of thousands of people across the UK, especially among the over-50s, with the skills and experience to help people achieve or return to employment who, if properly approached and trained, could provide their time and expertise voluntarily” stated the leading Welfare To Work charity’s chief executive.  “We have not even touched on the potential of this resource, as the Welfare To Work sector as a whole has never sat down to review how we might approach such a strategy”.

With rising numbers of long term unemployed, the sector faces unprecedented challenges due to limits in government funding, the huge investment needed to ensure that the aspiration of 50% or more sustainable jobs set by the Coalition is achieved and because there is currently no single model for delivery excellence among the many providers of Welfare To Work services. “Because of the vast scale of the challenge, government contracts are huge and require strong and cohesive strategies to attract suitable funds and to make sure that policies are effective” notes O’Shaughnessy. “The sector is currently only reaching around 30%, even with significant investment, so we need new, cost-effective approaches to give us the tools and impetus to achieve the 50% or more level set”.

A call to action

CDG proposes to quickly set up an October summit of all key players in the sector – charities, Welfare To Work organisations, employer representatives and the government – to agree a policy of tapping into expert volunteers across the UK and establish a means of doing so, to garner not just unexploited expertise but also exceptional cost savings and public benefit.

The professional/volunteer hybrid model being mooted by CDG is fully achievable, according to O’Shaughnessy. “The Government has just announced an expectation of at least 25% public sector cost savings. We believe this is completely achievable in the Welfare To Work sector if we attract around 50,000 volunteers across the UK giving 2-10 hours a month. We’ve not yet had a chance to work on exact figures but this will be one of the key outcomes of the proposed summit. Not only will costs be cut but this idea will bring an additional boost to helping people off benefits and into sustainable work. “

To achieve this O’Shaughnessy notes that commitment to the model is needed from all key Welfare To Work organisations; that commercial businesses will need to adjust their CSR policies to participate and to offer staff as volunteers. Secondments from business and the retired are likely to be the first approached. In return, the Government should consider tax credits and businesses will gain from a substantial means of achieving significant CSR objectives.

“In the current economic climate everyone is looking for maximum value for money. It’s no use applying a cash sticking plaster – what’s needed is a long-term, sustainable approach and our proposed hybrid model could be just that. That’s why we are calling on business, the government and Welfare To Work organisations to sit down together and debate how we could make this work.”

CDG’s own strategy reflects this approach. As a registered charity it already ploughs all its surplus or “profits” back into the organisation’s work. This year that amounted to just under £2m and in the same year saw its achievements rise, with the number of  customers supported going from 27,000 to 33,000.


For further information:


Notes to Editors

CDG is attending the Civil Service Live conference (stand G68) at London Olympia on 6-8 July, the major talking point for key civil servants, attended by senior civil service members, politicians and business figures.

CDG is a dynamic charity that seeks to help those who are unemployed find and sustain meaningful employment. Many of the people we support have multiple barriers to employment, including lack of recent work experience, disabilities, health problems and lack of relevant employability skills, to name a few.


  1. And what happens when these volunteers fail to materialise?

    You cant build a future on wishful thinking…

  2. In a small scale CDG’s idea is a good idea and would work -It is not a new idea. DWP’s New Deal Mentoring programme of a few years ago did just that – recruited able trained volunteers to support others back to work. Many Volunteer Centres and individual projects do just this – recruiting Mentors, buddies, tutors etc from an unpaid volunteer workforce.

    (This is different from the equally valuable role of volunteering as a route back to paid work described by Chris Ball)

    The difficulty is in scaling this up to a national programme. The volunteer motivation is generally to help people – and to give time and support on a personal basis. The current target culture of many welfare to work programmes would need to change considerably if the huge and valuable resource of volunteers was to be utilised.

  3. This sounds interesting but one might ask, “If they are experts, how come no-one is prepared to employ them?”

    However, I don’t dismiss this by any means – indeed I really do understand that volunteering can be a good way back for someone who has had a spell unemployed and is seeking work.

    But I think that we should first question how far the customary approaches of welfare to work providers has been helpful to the older job seeker, and then we should seek to improve them.

    We need to focus more effort on showing front line staff the best and most succeassful ways to support older job seekers. Many of them don’t think older job seekers are up to it. Many don’t know how to advise them or have a clue as to what approaches work best. A spell in volunteering may be an answer but it is not THE answer.

    Cue for commercial on TAEN’s new web based guide commissioned by the DWP and Eurpean Social Fund to support welfare to work providers in working better with fifty plus job seekers

    I say, “By all means use volunteering as a way to support getting back to work, but don’t be a one club golfer.” 50 Plus Works will give you some more ideas.

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