By Marcus Leach

Even in the current tough economic climate, against a backdrop of rising unemployment, employers have much to gain from actively engaging with the Government’s flagship Work Programme and recent youth employment initiatives.

This is the key message from speakers at an event attended by the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith today (Thursday), organised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and supported by the CBI.

The event, which is also supported by welfare-to-work provider A4e, will hear an employer’s view of hiring from the ranks of the long-term unemployed from Tanith Dodge, HR Director at Marks and Spencer, and will be attended by HR Directors and Chief Executives from a number of large private sector employers.

“Despite the challenging economic climate and rising unemployment, many parts of the private sector continue to hire," Stephanie Bird, Director of Public Policy at the CIPD, said.

"Employers tell us that they’re still struggling to find the right people, with the right skills, to fill their vacancies. Engaging in the welfare-to-work agenda can provide access to an untapped stream of willing and able employees, who can repay the faith shown in them with real energy and commitment in the workplace.

“There are moral arguments and obligations to the wider community that can motivate employers to engage with welfare-to-work. But ultimately there is a compelling business case for finding ways to unlock the enthusiasm and potential of young people who’ve been deprived of an opportunity to shine. HR professionals have a crucial role to play in determining the success of efforts to get people off welfare and back into work. The CIPD will continue to work with employers and government to ensure that the profession we represent is best able to fulfil this role”.

The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, urged businesses to get involved in the programme.

“I would urge those businesses that haven’t done so already to consider getting involved in the Work Programme or to offer work experience places or apprenticeships," he said.

"There is a lot of new support available for business through the Youth Contract so get involved now and we have a real opportunity to make a difference to young people’s lives.”

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