Minister under fire after jobless claims

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A GOVERNMENT Minister has urged firms to work closer with the authorities to recruit the right people.

But his comments immediately came under fire from town officials.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling addressed nearly 300 delegates at the first ever Tees Valley Business Summit, backed by the Hartlepool Mail which was an event partner.

He told delegates the Government had an employment strategy to help companies to recruit the right jobseekers and also to help the long-term unemployed back into work.

But his comments were described as “too simplistic” by campaigners who said desperate jobseekers were going for every vacancy they could as they had mouths to feed and mortgages to pay.

Mr Grayling told the Stockton summit: “We are trying to make it easier for employers to recruit the right people and take the hassle out of recruitment.”

He referred to situations where companies often found lots of people putting their names forward, even when only a limited number of jobs were on offer.

He said the process of recruiting staff was “a challenge” and added: “If you put an ad in the paper, you have to sift through them, do all the interviews and hope you have picked the right peoples.

“We want to provide more opportunity to short circuit that process.”

He urged firms to get the right candidates by working closely with the energetic teams at JobCentre Plus and through the Work Programme which helps people to prepare for, find and stay in work.

Mr Grayling also urged firms to consider taking on apprentices as a way of giving young adults a rung on to the career ladder.

After his speech, the Minister was specifically asked by the Mail what he was doing to help Hartlepool’s horrendous unemployment situation, which had gone on for years.

He said: “It is a question of two issues, of helping business and of helping the unemployed.”

He said the Government was trying to reduce the amount of regulations that firms faced, and was encouraging regeneration through campaigns such as the Enterprise Zone which could bring thousands of jobs to town.

“We need to get more private sector in to the region and in to Hartlepool.”

He added: “For the unemployed, we have got tailored support to get the longer term unemployment into the workplace.

“We have recognised unemployment and made available youth contracts in areas such as Hartlepool that have got particular challenges.”

But he added: “There are still, in every part of the country, vacancies coming in every week. Our job is helping them to take advantage of it.”