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Blunkett’s vision for the Employment Service

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With its 30,000 staff in more than 1,000 jobcentres, the Employment Service is one of the largest operations of its kind. Now David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education and Employment argues that it "needs to be at the cutting edge of the information revolution to give both employers and jobseekers the backing they deserve".

Writing in The Times on Tuesday 2 November, he urges the service to draw inspiration from wherever possible, including the private sector; to look at innovations that will enable jobseekers to tap into opportunities not just in the jobcentres but in, for instance, supermarkets, medical centres and Internet cafes. It needs, he says, to provide a faster and more widespread service to employers - who want to maximise their business performance by filling vacancies quickly.

A survey released on the same day showed 84 percent of employers "satisfied" and half "very satisfied" with the service. But Blunkett says that to have even 15 per cent dissatisfied is unacceptable.

So, he says, the Employment Service must adapt to the high-tech age. At present, frustrated employers cannot e-mail their local jobcentre. As a result, jobs remain unfilled – there are some 232,000 vacancies currently advertised, and many more are available – and seekers are kept back from moving into earning and off benefits.

Jobcentres must be able to access the data on the information banks held at the central office, communicate with each other, and draw on information from outside agencies and organisations. Public/private partnerships must be developed to bring together the best in the Service and the innovative approach of the private sector. Collaboration of this kind has already made it possible for all jobcentres to be linked to the Internet by the end of January next year.

In addition, there will be an entirely new website – a national Learning and Work Bank. It will for the first time bring together information on learning opportunities and on vacancies.

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