Extending work trial scheme would create new jobs

A leading business group has urged the Government to extend a scheme that allows employers and employees to try a role before offering or accepting a permanent position.

Under the Work Trial system, those on the Jobseekers' allowance for more than six months can receive their normal benefits and can claim travel expenses while "trying out" a position.

In return, the employer must promise to consider the person for a permanent job if they turn out to be suitable.

However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) believes that the scheme, which is voluntary, should include Jobseekers' Allowance claimants from the day they sign on rather than just those who have been claiming for six months.

The FSB maintained this would help to create almost 50,000 new jobs.

The FSB's latest 'Voice of Small Business' survey panel showed that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of small firms think Work Trials would act as an incentive to taking on staff. 

Research has revealed that nearly half of all jobs beginning with a Work Trial have led to a permanent job in that business.

John Walker, the FSB's national chairman, commented: "Small businesses are more likely to hire people that have been in long-term unemployment, and Work Trials are a good way to get people back into work and learning skills, and for small businesses to move forward with taking on staff and growing. Small firms are willing to play their part in tackling unemployment but lack confidence in their business prospects, the economy and don't have the resources to do so. 

"Extending Work Trials could help to create an extra 46,000 much-needed jobs and help people get back into work at such a difficult time, so the FSB is urging the Government to extend this very straightforward scheme from the first day someone signs on. The Government simply must do more if it wants the private sector to pick up the slack from public sector cuts. This would be a good start in helping to tackle unemployment."