Skip to main content Accessibility help

Employer Participation in Active Labour Market Policy: from Reactive Gatekeepers to Proactive Strategic Partners



Active labour market policy (ALMP) is a well-established strategy but one aspect is greatly neglected – employer participation – about which there is a lack of systematic evidence. The question of why and how employers participate in ALMP, and whether there may be some shift from employers solely being passive recipients of job-ready candidates to having a more proactive and strategic role, is addressed by drawing on new research into Talent Match, a contemporary UK employability programme which places particular emphasis on employer involvement. The research findings point to a conceptual distinction between employers’ roles as being reactive gatekeepers to jobs and/or being proactive strategic partners, with both evident. It is argued that the Talent Match programme demonstrates potential to benefit employers, jobseekers and programme providers, with devolution of policy to the local level a possible way forward. The conclusion, however, is that the barrier to wider replication is not necessarily a problem of practice but of centralised control of policy and, in particular, commitment to a supply-side approach. Empirical, conceptual and policy contributions are made to this under-researched topic.



Hide All
Adam, D., Atfield, G. and Green, A. E. (2017), ‘What works? Policies for employability in cities’, Urban Studies, 54, 5, 11621177.
Bredgaard, T. (2018), ‘Employers and Active Labour Market Policies: Typologies and Evidence’, Social Policy and Society, 17, 3, 365377.
Carter, E. and Whitworth, A. (2017), ‘Work Activation Regimes and Well-being of Unemployed People: Rhetoric, Risk and Reality of Quasi-Marketization in the UK Work Programme’, Social Policy & Administration, 51, 796816.
Devins, D. and Hogarth, T. (2005), ‘Employing the Unemployed: Some Case Study Evidence on the Role and Practice of Employers’, Urban Studies, 42, 2, 245256.
Finn, D. (2015), Welfare to work devolution in England, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Fossati, F. (2018), ‘Who Wants Demanding Active Labour Market Policies? Public Attitudes towards Policies that put Pressure on the Unemployed’, Journal of Social Policy, 47, 1, 7797.
Froyland, K., Andreassen, T. and Innvaer, S. (forthcoming), ‘Contrasting supply-side, demand-side and combined approaches to labour market integration’, Journal of Social Policy.
Gore, T. (2005), ‘Extending employability or solving employers’ recruitment problems? Demand-led approaches as an instrument of labour market policy’, Urban Studies, 42, 341353.
Green, A.E., Atfield, G. and Barnes, S-A. (2015), Employer involvement and engagement (Talent Match Case Study Theme Report), Sheffield: Centre for Regional and Economic Development, Sheffield Hallam University and IER University of Warwick.
Greer, I. (2016), ‘Welfare reform, precarity and the re-commodification of labour’, Work, Employment and Society, 30, 1, 162173.
Grover, C. (2009), ‘Privatizing employment services in Britain’, Critical Social Policy, 29, 3, 487509.
Ingold, J. and Stuart, M. (2015), ‘The demand-side of active labour market policies: a regional study of employer engagement in the Work Programme’, Journal of Social Policy, 44, 443462.
Jordan, J. (2018), ‘Welfare Grunters and Workfare Monsters? An Empirical Review of the Operation of Two UK ‘Work Programme’ Centres’, Journal of Social Policy, 47, 3, 583601.
May, S., Cheney, G. and Roper, J. (2005), The Debate Over Corporate Social Responsibility, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McCollum, D. (2012), ‘The sustainable employment policy agenda: What role for employers?’, Local Economy, 27, 5–6, 3969.
McGurk, P. (2014), Employer engagement: a human resource management perspective, Working Paper WERU7, Work and Employment Research Unit, University of Greenwich Business School.
McQuaid, R. W. and Lindsay, C. (2005), ‘The concept of employability’, Urban Studies, 42, 197219.
Office, National Audit (2016), ‘English Devolution Deals’, HC 948, London: National Audit Office.
Peck, J. and Theodore, N. (2000), ‘Beyond Employability’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, 24, 6, 729749.
Pike, A., Lee, N., MacKinnon, D., Kempton, L. and Iddawela, Y. (2017), Job creation for inclusive growth in cities, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Powell, R. and Wells, P. (2015), Talent Match Evaluation and Learning Contract: Briefing Report 2015, Sheffield: Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, Sheffield Hallam University.
Ritchie, J. and Spencer, L. (1994), ‘Qualitative data analysis for applied policy research’, in Bryman, A. and Burgess, R.G., (eds.), Analysing Qualitative Data, London: Routledge, 305329.
Simms, M. (2017), ‘Explaining employer engagement in youth labour market policy in the UK: an interest-based institutionalist account’, Human Resource Management Journal, 27, 4, 548564.
Sissons, P. and Jones, K. (2012), Lost in transition? The changing labour market and young people not in employment, education or training, Lancaster: The Work Foundation.
Snape, D. (1998), Recruiting long-term unemployed people: employers' views of the National Insurance Contributions Holiday scheme, London: Stationery Office.
Van Berkel, R., Ingold, J., McGurk, P., Boselie, P. and Bredgaard, T. (2017), ‘An introduction to employer engagement in the field of HRM. Blending social policy and HRM research in promoting vulnerable groups' labour market participation’, Human Resource Management Journal, 27, 4, 503–51.
Van der Aa, P. and van Berkel, R. (2014), ‘Innovating job activation by involving employers’, International Social Security Review, 67, 2, 1127.

Employer Participation in Active Labour Market Policy: from Reactive Gatekeepers to Proactive Strategic Partners



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed