The Salvation Army offered one month placements under the government’s Mandatory Work Activity programme. The primary purpose of the placements was to offer work experience and therefore an employer reference to people who were having difficulty securing a job. The programme was one of a number of government responses to the growth in unemployment following the Global Economic Crisis of 2008. The programme ended in March 2016.
Our experience was that most job seekers found this brief period of work experience helpful in securing job interviews, gaining self-confidence and feeling part of the community. It helped people who found themselves in the ‘no interview because you have no experience’ trap.
We declined to take part in the Community Work Placement Programme because we felt that an unpaid six month period of work experience could displace paid work or volunteer placements. This programme was offered to people who had been out of work for two years and in our experience that length of unemployment usually means that job seekers need specialist support rather than work experience.
The Salvation Army never sought to hide the fact that it was providing work experience despite the adverse publicity we received. We judged the programme on whether or not it was helping job seekers back into work.