Long-term professionals ‘real victims of downturn’

By Ian Dunt

The long-term employed are the biggest group finding themselves out of work in the economic downturn, according to MPs.

The news is prompting serious questions among politicians, not least about what to do with the unemployed when they are already at the top of their profession.

“The largest group going onto the unemployment register now have been in work for a long time,” said Phil Willis, chairman of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee (IUSS).

“They are already highly skilled. What they need now is to be re-skilled to make them suitable for the current jobs market.”

There is considerable confusion in government as to how to deal with the specific effects of the economic crisis.

Since the 2004 Leitch Review, government policy relied on up-skilling the unemployed by vocational training in the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

Now, MPs are increasingly calling for a concentration on re-skilling, with a swift effort to prepare people for entirely different industries.

“Leitch talked about upskilling,” Mr Willis said.

“When he did so in 2004, during a period of economic optimism, it was appropriate. But the need now is for re-skilling.”

The push for a radical change in unemployment policy reached a crescendo today with the publication of an IUSS report calling for policy makers to concentrate on those in long-term employment.

The committee said it was important “the new Adult Advancement and Careers Service caters for diverse markets, particularly skilled people with professional or managerial experience requiring a career change”.

The credit crunch continues to rewrite previous rules of economic downturns, with fresh job losses now being announced on a daily basis.

Over 3,500 jobs were lost on Wednesday alone, this week, 2,100 of them at Barclays Bank.