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Wildcat scheme a hit in the US, but what about the UK?


The Guardian reports on a scheme brought over from the US which takes a group of unemployed people and provides them with training to prepare them for specific jobs. The scheme, which consists of a series of programmes run by US service provider Wildcat, has proved a big success in training people for anything from street cleaning to financial services. The Guardian notes that one scheme to train bank tellers for Citibank by preparing them to pass the tellers exam in three months has resulted in a 100% pass rate. US employers have apparently found a key advantage to the programme is the ablility to provide trained staff who are fully capable of doing the jobs on offer and who are willing to stay with the job.

Wildcat was brought over to the UK in February this year and trialled in a pilot project with the New Deal Task Force and accountancy firm KPMG, by working with Lewisham College in London to develop a programme of training which included Microsoft Office programmes, electronic diary management, communication skills and team working. £9.5 million has been put aside by the DfEE for the scheme over the next three years, but there are some concerns over how well the scheme will translate to the UK.

In New Start Magazine, which reports on community regeneration programmes Paul Convery, director of the Unemployment Unit and Youth Aid points out that the government has 'quite rightly been impressed at how Wildcat has operated in a tight labour market to place people in good jobs', but that
'we’ve said to the government very strongly: You can’t just transplant it into the UK. Whether we can replicate it here is debatable, but there are aspects of the approach we can try'.

In the same publication Ivan Turok, professor of urban economic development at Glasgow University’s centre for urban studies argues that the new scheme is unlikely to help those in areas where the economy is suffering: "Only if the labour market is tight will employers bend over backwards to be accommodating to employees. The scheme does not address the problem of lack of vacancies, so it will not be a solution for everyone".


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