Headlines: March 10th, 2000

The 5 prototype Employment Zones set up in job black spots in February 1998 have shown that concerted effort and funding can reduce long term unemployment. An evaluation of the prototypes revealed that an unemployed person is twice as likely to find and keep a job in a zone than in other comparable areas. Each person placed in work saves the taxpayer 4500 pound a year. The scheme will be extended next month with the creation of a further 15 Zones to benefit some 50,000 people.The zones are run in partnership with private sector firms with experience in the jobs field. Different approaches are used by the partnerships to help people find jobs and they include websites, Internet cafes and providing pagers so that job seekers can get messages about job opportunities as soon as they are available.

Lack of money is often a barrier to employment and to overcome this problem job seekers in the zones are given a Personal Job Account with up to 5000 pounds. The money can be used to pay for training, transport, tools, new clothes, child care or for acquiring a professional registration.