Employers and the New Deal for Disabled People
Qualitative Research, First Wave
Aston J, Atkinson J, Evans C, Davis S, O’Regan S
Report WAE145, Department for Work and Pensions, March 2003
a report for the Department for Work and Pensions
This report sets out the first results from research on employer involvement with NDDP. It draws on qualitative interviews with 80 employers, of whom 90 per cent had recruited NDDP customers.
Most had previous experience of recruiting/employing disabled people, but on the whole they were not well informed about disability issues. Overall, these employers reported that their experiences of disabled employees had been mixed, but on the whole positive. They generally held fairly benign views on disabled jobseekers, although only a few actively encouraged applications from them.
For the most part, their previous experience of accommodating disabled recruits at work had rarely extended beyond making fairly simple adjustments in how work was organised and undertaken. Experience with physical adaptations (to furniture, equipment, and the working environment) had been less common, and also fairly modest, although smaller or less experienced employers generally viewed them as a bit more of a challenge. Large-scale physical adaptations were quite rare.
Awareness of the New Deal ‘brand’ was high, but of NDDP itself was much lower. Few respondents unprompted knew about it, though rather more had vaguer ideas that something like it existed. In fact, although 90 per cent of these employers had recruited under NDDP, only about half of them were aware that they had taken part in any kind of labour market initiative, and few knew for certain that they had hired under NDDP.
The approach from Job Brokers most widely recalled by employers was of Job Brokers responding to an advertised vacancy on behalf of NDDP customers, with either a covering letter to the application, or a phone call. However, apparently unmediated approaches directly from the jobseeker were also widespread, with no Job Broker involvement evident (to the employer), and this may in part account for the low recognition/recall of the programme among employers.
However, employers generally liked this relatively non-intrusive and unbureaucratic approach, because it left them in control, and did not compromise their recruitment and selection procedures/criteria.
While we cannot say how extensively individuals may have been coached or supported in their jobsearch by the Job Brokers, those who were hired achieved this largely on their own merits, without the need for extensive Job Broker inputs to seal the deal.
Perhaps as a result, their impairments tended to be relatively mild (ie susceptible to fairly simple adjustments or adaptations), or in some cases, undisclosed.
Job Broker involvement after the recruitment of their customers was not always evident to (or at least recalled by) employers. Where it was, the two key inputs reported by them involved (1) assessment, advice, and guidance at the hiring stage about any necessary adjustments and adaptations which individual recruits might need, plus (2) a subsequent monitoring/liaison role in case any unforeseen problems developed which had not been evident on recruitment. In view of the predominance of relatively mild impairments among the recruits, neither had led to extensive or extended post recruitment involvement between employers and Job Brokers.
Most of these employers did not know enough about their Job Brokers to have formed a view about them. Those who did were mostly pragmatic, ie their views on the Job Broker derived mainly from their assessment of the calibre and suitability of the jobseekers they referred, and these were mainly positive.
Reported problems of any sort were fairly uncommon; serious ones were quite rare. The main difficulties were:
- the occasional unsuitability of the candidates/recruits put forward by the Job Broker, usually on grounds of skill or experience rather than disability
- an occasional unfavourable contrast between the attitudes/ helpfulness/availability of Job Brokers before and after the recruitment
- a feeling among a few employers that the onus fell too much on them to raise any developing problems with the Job Broker and, in some cases, to sort out any medium or longer-term problems themselves.
We found few cases where Job Brokers had struck up longer-term relationships with employers, and this is perhaps not very surprising in view of the short time they had been operating, the predominantly indirect means through which they had engaged with employers, and the modest requirement for post-recruitment contact.
However, in those (relatively few) cases where a more long term relationship existed between employer and Job Broker, this appeared to draw on:
- the cumulative experience of several successful job placements made through that job broker
- development on the part of the Job Broker of a good understanding of the type of business, the nature of the positions, and the sorts of recruits who would be suitable
- the capacity of the Job Broker to appreciate the employer’s circumstances (procedures, capacity, constraints, etc.) as well as the client’s, and thus to act as an intermediary rather than simply an agent of the client
- the readiness of the employer to engage more actively with disabled jobseekers either in search of greater equality of opportunity for job entrants, or because of tight labour market conditions and an associated need to broaden their recruitment sources.
Employers and the New Deal for Disabled People: Qualitative Research, First Wave, Aston J, Atkinson J, Evans C, Davis S, O’Regan S. Report WAE145, Department for Work and Pensions, 2003.
ISBN: 978-1-84388-124-7. Bound copy: £free