Employment & Skills in Focus - Responsible Business in Action

There are more people in work in the UK than ever before, but falling wages and rising job insecurity has led to a sharp decline in the quality of work. At the same time, many groups – ex-offenders, homeless, refugees, ex-military – continue to be excluded from the jobs market by barriers in recruitment process or a lack of engagement from business. 

1 in 8 workers in the UK are living in poverty (Joseph Rowntree, 2018). It’s vital that employers take action to improve the quality of jobs to reap the benefits of a more engaged and productive workforce.  Good work has a transformative effect on society, lifting people out of disadvantage, raising aspirations and creating opportunities for future generations.

Through our Employment & Skills campaigns we work with businesses to break down barriers to work for excluded groups and ensure Good Work for All.  Through our business-led programmes, we provide the support that people need to move into and thrive in work. Read about Dermott’s journey from sleeping rough to working at KPMG following the Ready for Work programme. 

We are also shaping a responsible business approach to digital transformation, ensuring it drives inclusion. We are developing this approach with our members, looking at improving job mobility and skills development in a digital age. 
Finalists in our Unipart Outstanding Employment Award have some amazing stories to tell from employing refugees and ex-offenders to challenging the status quo to create greater socio-economic diversity.

Ban the Box calls on UK employers to give ex-offenders a fair chance to compete for jobs - and to widen talent pools - by removing the tick box from application forms that asks about criminal convictions. More than 11 million people in the UK have a criminal record, yet three-quarters of employers admit to discriminating against applications with a conviction. 

It’s in every business’s interest to offer Good Work for All. Falling wages and rising job insecurity have led to a decline in the quality of work. Our definition of a ‘good job’ is one that offers security, rights and a fair income.  Find out more about the learnings from our Good Work for All pilots over the last 18 months, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  

Our toolkit Tapping Potential - Guidelines to Help UK Businesses Employ Refugees has been launched in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency, the Department for Work and Pensions, Home Office and the International Organization for Migration. It provides a framework to help members take action to increase the employment of refugees.
Headlines from the Finalists for Business in the Community's Responsible Business Awards 2019 - Unipart Outstanding Employment Award
1. Breaking down the barriers for those seeking jobs
Helping disadvantaged people find work is at the heart of many employment strategies. Companies are using BITC’s Ready for Work (RfW) scheme to help disadvantaged people gain jobs. Gowling WLG has provided 34 placements in the last three years. And since it started providing placements, 40% of participants have gained employment as a result, including more than six at Gowling WLG itself.
2. Creating a pipeline of great people can spur growth
Manchester Airport Group (MAG) has a strategy for creating a long-term employment pipeline to support growth. MAG Connect offers young adults a chance to meet senior managers to find out about different opportunities at MAG.
3. Partnerships can extend reach and scale
Joining forces with other organisations can support long-term employment strategies. Manchester Airport Group (MAG) has teamed up with the Department for Work and Pensions, for example, placing its staff directly into DWP centres to encourage the uptake of work at its airports.
4. Supporting the UK’s most vulnerable brings multiple benefits
More than 70% of refugees arriving in the UK find it hard to secure work due to a lack of local experience or language abilities. The London-based NEMI Teas employs refugees to run tea stalls across London food markets and festivals. It has tripled sales in the last 12 months, securing contracts with large corporates looking to support businesses with a social conscience.
5. Supporting disadvantaged young people demands investment
Reaching out to those that cannot access jobs equitably has seen companies make more of an effort to support them. Penguin Random House offers two-week work experience placements – these are fully paid, allocated at random and offered with subsidised accommodation.
6. Re-offending rates can be improved through employment
It is something that costs UK taxpayers around £11 billion a year. But helping ex-offenders into the world of work can turn things around. Tier 1 Asset Management’s training and workshops in IT recycling have seen reoffending rates reduced to 23%, compared to a national average of 70%.
7. Ex-offenders are great employees
Currently, the retention rate for staff who have joined Timpson from prison or who have a criminal conviction is approximately 75%. It is a corporate strategy that has garnered much positive feedback from customers and it is one of the things that make staff proud to work for the business