What happened to the BIG society?

The Government need new initiatives by way of putting extra funding into creating jobs and stimulating growth, specifically aimed at helping people into work; not compounding the issue by offering loans to businesses that are already struggling, this will just compound issues, potentially delay the inevitable and increase overall debt levels in the UK.

We should be working to resolve these issues.  City and County Councils should be working with local businesses particularly Start-Up’s and SME’s (a sector that needs stimulation) to provide information on people and the skills available, please don’t tell me the job centres do this well, frankly; they don’t.

The delays, uncertainty and lack of initiatives from Central Government is nothing short of astounding therefore we need to drive this forward ourselves.  We should all be finding routes of working collaboratively; specifically, targeted at those unemployed and businesses wanting to grow in the SME sector.  Individuals could be offered work for a period of 12 months, individuals wanting to work and create the chance of a job should get extra subsidies from the Government as an incentive to enter this type of internship programme.

This approach will give people that are seeking employment opportunity to keep their skills, contacts and experience current until they find paid employment.

Like-minded groups of experienced business people should be lobbying Government (LEP’s?) now proposing initiatives to help stimulate this sector.  Finding a job is crucial for families today.  In fact, work can be transformative.  However, many people now are often feel that the situation is hopeless and don’t know where to start.  Motivation can be an issue, even though they agree that getting into employment is their best way forward many people are resigned to government support and feel alienated.  Clearly, it would be better for all concerned if Government money was better and more effectively targeted.

Conversely, I read and hear that there are companies that find it difficult to attract people to do the more basic jobs.  People with qualifications want work starting above the basic level, with expected prospects for advancement. Work internships could be for any time period but with a minimum of 12 weeks. Under the scheme the intern would be paid out of pocket expenses and a gratuity or incentive.

To Summarise:

  1. We should be targeting people who want to work at the SME sector to stimulate both employment and drive sector growth.
  2. Businesses sign up thus providing an opportunity for unemployed people, possibly lacking in qualifications, to gain work experience
  3. Opportunity to receive a reference for future employment.
  4. LEP’s in conjunction with Job centres potentially provide the essential link, assessments and support for  people seeking work, and for businesses willing to
  5. Provide placements through internships.  By match-making the right people to the right companies.
  6. Through this central management of the placements it would help to mitigate the risk and cost to the companies offering work placements

The advantages:

  • The unemployed person gets an opportunity to gain some work experience, a possible job or at least reference for further employment.
  • The participating SME companies gain by having access, at low cost, to independently screened, supported and monitored trainees, who may become employees, but without any long term obligation for 12 weeks.
  • The local Council benefits by having a public/private collaboration and dedicated service effectively ‘match-making’ the unemployed to appropriate potential long term employment opportunities.
  • The Local Authority and society benefits as there should be a reduction in crime rates and a greater likelihood that they will enter full time employment.
  • The service provides the government with a low cost solution to the cycle of despair, crime, joblessness and homelessness that can result from unemployment
  • The Start-Up and SME sector is stimulated, can become more competitive with the overall benefit of not loading the cost base prior to landing associated revenues.

To discuss this topic further or for further information on how Conduit Partners can help your business call us on 01235 831777 or email info@conduitpartners.co.uk



Make CSR work harder for your business and your community

How many organisations do corporate social responsibility (CSR) meaningfully? Hand on heart, are your CSR activities carried out merely to tick a box in your year-end results, or are you actively making a commitment to having a positive and profound impact in your local community?

With the new impetus for CSR in the UK, thanks in part to the Government’s Big Society initiative – of which I’m a huge supporter – now is the time to engage in community initiatives and get involved as though you mean it, rather than regard it as empty rhetoric.

If you’re a business wondering where the hell to start, then I’ll point you in the direction of the Industrial and Provident Societies (IPS) model. Bear with me here.

IPS enterprises are run as a co-operative – think of housing associations or working men’s clubs, for example. To qualify for registration under the Industrial & Provident Societies Acts, a body must be a ‘bona-fide co-operative’ or a ‘society for the benefit of the community’. It has limited liability and a mutual structure: investors become shareholders (one-member, one vote) and this funding goes to help the local community.

What a golden opportunity this represents. OK, so the caveats are that return on capital must be limited, and profits have to be shared equitably among members, but IPS enterprises already have a combined turnover or £27.4bn – and I think it’s a cracking way for social enterprise to put its money where its mouth is. I also believe we will see more IPS set-ups as the Big Society evolves.

My soon-to-be announced new CSR initiative in Oxfordshire will run along IPS lines, and will invite local businesses to help disadvantaged young people in the county.

Getting involved through the IPS model means that not only are you ticking a mighty huge CSR box, but you’re engaging explicitly and purposefully with your community. Surely social enterprise could well be worth exploring.