Headlines: April 27th, 2001

The launch of 50 Jobcentre Plus pathfinders will bring together under one roof the services of job finding and benefits claiming. The reason for the merger is that in many cases it is the same person who needs both services. The remaining 1000 offices will be merged next year when it is expected to be clear which merger strategies work best.The new merged service, under its Chief Executive Leigh Lewis, plans to improve services to its job seeker and employer customers. The old job vacancy boards – one of the most enduring images of Jobcentres – are being replaced by easy-to-use, touch-screen kiosks known as Jobpoints. As a result jobseekers will be able to access up-to-date vacancy information, not just for their local area, but for any part of Britain.

For the employers, a new service, Employer Direct, will provide a single national telephone number to receive vacancy details. Calls will go to 11 call centres around the country. Jobs will then be advertised on the Internet and on every Jobpoint at Jobcenters throughout Britain. Currently, employers have to contact their local Jobcentres to place vacancies.

Improvements are also planned for management of the service. ORC International has been awarded an extension to its existing contract to supply employment data analysis services. The analysis output is currently provided on paper and CDs, but the new contract provides for access to a website where an expanded range of data will be available. It is expected that the Employment Service will make this data available to its external advisers and other employment researchers.