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CIPD Conference: We need your help, Employment Minister tells HR sector

The success of the coalition's welfare reform is dependent on the help of HR professionals, the Minister for Employment said yesterday.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development Conference in Manchester on Thursday, Chris Grayling said that the HR sector is perhaps more important as any other group in defining the reforms’ successfulness.

"We can only do it in partnership with employers," Grayling said. "It’s a big challenge, it can make a big social difference, but you, perhaps more than any group in the country, if we get it right, your addition really can make a difference."

Grayling’s made his comments at a panel discussion chaired by Channel 4’s Christian Guru-Murthy.

The minister said he recognised the scale of the task at hand, but said that the Government was committed to ensuring that the unemployed were ready for a return to work.

"We cannot say to employers ‘we want to get lots of people off benefits and into work, please take them.’’ Graylin said. "We’ve got to put the investment and support for these people so that we genuinely have a work-ready group in the future.

"That is the goal of the work programme. It’s about helping people overcome the barriers in their life, getting them ready for employment, identifying the right places for their individual skills, but it also needs the support and participation and partnership of employers.

"My message to all of you is that as we build the work programme, as the new providers in and around the country establish their businesses, establish their support centres, begin to put out tentacles into the local community, as HR professionals please work with them, please be open minded about helping them do what they do, be willing to offer work placements to people to try out their skills, and be willing to give a chance to some of those who have been out of work for a long period of time.

"If it works hopefully then you will feel free to open your doors to many more people."

Grayling’s fellow panelists were the BBC’s director of people, Lucy Adams, Unite’s assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmell and the CIPD’s chief economist, John Philpott.