A4e arguments

Note 23/3 - This discussion was moved from here for reasons that should be obvious.

Your poor woman, having experienced 13 -weeks of torture at A4E, you have my sympathy. It can'be easy working for a notorious outfit like A4E.
I would just like to clarify one point: A4e do NOT povide skills and training to New Deal clients. I have no idea where this outraegous claim has come from. I'm sure this myth has only fuelled the anatagonism towards A4E by many ex-clients.

(edited by moderator - valid arguments and experiences are fine, but you need to stop posting abuse no matter how justified you think it may be)

Flat out abuse!!! Can i suggest that you visit YouTube and read the comments from ex A4E clients about their experiences of A4E.

Can you be unaware of the A4E Overcrowding Incident, as reported in the Manchester Evening News - 23 March 2008. Is that enough evidence for you?

There may well be a some A4e's that fall below the required standard, but there are also a large number that do a lot of good and help a lot of people. It is a well known fact that people generally take the time to mention things when they are complaining... good work is not normally reported.

Some of those who complained had nothing better to do then complain!! They certainly weren't trying to find work!!!

"Flexible work force", the Anglo-Saxon economic model.

I am also a current employee of A4e albeit a different contract and I agree with every word you have said. The staff at our office are passionate about helping people who WANT TO BE HELPED find work. Yes this might be hard in the current climate but we will try everything to help clients overcome barriers and find employment. We are always going to get negative feedback from clients who don't want to be there and are quite happy living on benefits, but it is the people who genuinely want to find a job that makes OUR jobs worthwhile. These are the people who actually GET jobs and KEEP them. I have seen the youtube thingy in Manchester and can only say is it a set up or a con? This does NOT happen in our ofices and should not put people off attending A4e as the majority of staff are there only to help improve people's lives.

I'm going to step in and defend A4e here. They're operating a lot of New Deal and other provisions round the country, many of them with very prescriptive content and structure. The content of New Deal specifically is set down in government contracts, and there's no reason to think that they're doing any better or worse than anyone else faced with these restrictions, and the payments and targets that run alongside them. If anything, their success has made them more likely to make customers unhappy solely because they're more likely to deliver to customers in the first place.

Also, I'm going to suggest that if you want to participate in discussion on this site, you don't make unevidenced, insulting assertions about anyone, including the government, providers and benefit claimants. I'm happy for people to talk openly, and to share their experiences, but that does not include flat-out abuse.

I am currently employed by A4e working on the NDDP contract. I have experience of working with several Welfare to Work contractors as well as several years experience on New Deal via JCP.
I can honestly say, this is the most proffessional and passionate company I have ever worked for over the last 20 years.
The dedication and passion of the staff I work with is second to none. They are not interested in number crunching or just hitting targets by throwing people at any old job, but are committed to getting the right person into the right job and fully supporting them to stay there with the 52 weeks aftercare.
We have Jobclubs, Motivation and Confidence building training, CV workshops - you name it, we'll deliver it!
If we are unable to deliver specific training ourselves, we have built an excellent range of partner organisations that will work alongside us to deliver on our behalf.
FND - bring it on!!

As it happens, the newsletter linked to that overcrowding story at the time. However, you're still being exactly as abusive as the commenter elsewhere on the site who called unemployed people 'benefiters' and told them to get a job. If you want to persuade anyone of anything, this is not the way to do it.

I can say only one thing! FND is coming should this not be a signal of how providers and times need to change? The volume of unemployed is rising as we speak, so all who work in our sector should look forward to the end of New Deal as we know it, and focus on the word Flexible!!! is this not what we have thought many a time would answer the problems we face daily?

I think it's a very good thing for unemployed people to have their say about the services they receive. The reason I'm getting grumpy in this thread is because there's a difference between feedback and abuse.

Unfortunately, your last comment was moving toward abuse in the other direction - saying that anyone who complains about their provider is obviously just work-shy isn't any better.

There are no channels to complain and to find any redress impossible. i have written to my MP about the lack of computers in jobsearch and got a swift reply. I did this because i was only given 20 or 40 minutes to use the computers in a 3 hour period. They have promised to buy 5 computers but that was a month ago!

If they could get away from being Big Brother they might get somewhere!

tony

I attended A4e in Leeds about 5 yrs ago. It was a shambles on several levels.

1) Unsanitary conditions. Filthy cups/mugs, filthy toilets. I am suprised no one came down with e-coli.

2) Poor facilities. 3 PC's between up to 30 or more clients. 1 solitary phone between the same number. Job papers up to TWO WEEKS out of date. Yellow Pages and Phone Directories up to TWO YEARS out of date. With this little lot, you were expected to send CV's, letters and arrange work experience.

3) Inadequate staff. Not all A4e staff wer bad, let me say from the start. A couple did know how bad things were. On even held a meeting between himself and A4e clients so he could hear for himself the various issues and problems. He got a LOT of feedback that morning! However, a couple of staff memmbers I had the misfortune to have to deal with were rude, uncooperative and had no people skills whatsoever.

4) Fraud. Before attending A4e, I asked my New Deal advisor what they (A4e) actually did. She mentioned they did courses. "What kind of courses" I asked. She could/would not answer me. When at A4e, those who did not get work experince, like myself, spent the whole 13 weeks looking at out of date papers (save the current ones I and others bought in), and trying to use a painfully slow intenet connection on painfully slow PC's. No course existed. I was supposed to be on a 'media and design course'. When I enquired about this, i was told the course never actually existed.

I went back to my Nwe Deal advisor about this. Her exact words were "Oh, it looks like they (A4e) are geting money for things they're not providing then". Precicely!

5)Breaking confidentiality. When at A4e, every week or so, a chap turned up from the local Job Centre. In addition to being the New Deal advisor to some clients, he also oversaw the running of this A4e office and gathered client feedback. Well, I offered feedback. A4e staff obviously did not like what I had to say as at the end of the day I got "what have you been saying to XXXX? It was out of order!" I went back to the job Centre and saw XXXX. He agreed that the staff member was wrong to say what she did. He had words with A4e about it.

6) other professional opinions of A4e. I attended a mentoring sevice whilst at A4e. A nice lady, Jannete acted as my mentor. She actually had good things to say about A4e. However, my and others opinion of A4e made her positive view of A4e evaporate overnight. More recently, I got chatting to a Business Link advisor about A4e. His considered opinion was "they're crap". He has had dealings with them beforehand too.

Negative feedback is not just because people do not want to be there. It's also down to New Deal's LCD (Lowest Common Denominator approach which treats all clients the same irrespective of background, qualifications, needs, wants and abilities.

I ended up having to arrange my own work experience as A4e staff could not be bothered. This was almost the same as trying to arrange a proper job interview. Funny thing is, a chap who worked for A4e's IT side asked if I had gotten any work experience At A4e. When I replied no, he said A4e should have put me in touch with himself and this was crazy!

A4e do not like feedback, critical or positive it seems. Look at the A4e vids on YouTube not the anti-A4e ones. You cannot leave a comment, even if you wish to say you had a smashing time at A4e. Oh, and the Manchester A4e incident. I can believe it. This is similar to my experinces at Leeds. Overcrowding was rife as they could not find everone a job placement, yet the still had new clients coming through the door every wek, hence the overcrowding.

Look at the comments about A4e on various forums. They are too close to my own experience to be made up.

Check out http://www.freewebs.com/watchinga4e/index.htm for more info.

Update 23/3 - Edited to remove names at request of named parties

Try emailing Emma Harrison, she owns the Gaff. The Manchester fiasco resulted in the seniour managers leaving very quickly, i.e XXXXXXXX(area Manager) and XXXXXXX Manchester business Manager and XXXXXXX, cant remember his title but he was the scape goat.

Emma is on facebook but i dont know if you can send her a msg anymore, but im sure if you try emma [dot] harrison [at] a4e [dot] co [dot] uk or somethink like it you will get through.

may i just say Emma is passionate about helping the unemployed unfortunatly at the time i worked for them the managers were all about the GREEN

Do you have your own A4e story to tell? We want to hear from you! Contact stories [at] a4e [dot] co [dot] uk with your details, and we'll get back to you.

Just cut this direct from there website, try telling them your stories.

I worked for them myself, and in the main the front line staff never wanted anything more than to help people, but eh you only get out what you put in. There main aim is facilitation, not find the job for you, prepare your c.v, attend the interview for you, then go to work monday to friday.

Gazzelle

I'm monitoring this thread, but it should be ok as long as people talk about their personal experiences and don't insult entire organisations or post the same stuff again and again. Two quick thoughts:

  1. Every post about people having a bad experience on New Deal is another argument for the introduction of Flexible New Deal. The whole point of FND is sorting out the things that were wrong with New Deal, and many of the things people are complaining about are a result of New Deal's problems;
  2. A4e are by far the biggest New Deal provider. If there seem to be a lot of complaints about this specific organisation, it might simply be because they have far more customers than anyone else. Presently, there is no way of knowing for certain which providers give good or bad service. This is why star ratings or other feedback mechanisms are so important for the next generation of provisions.

I just wanted to add something to Daniel's comment about "no way of knowing for certain which providers give good or bad service".
A4e conduct exit surveys on the claimant's last day of their New Deal course, in the form of a questionnaire - fixed choice and open ended questions. I was at A4e Edinburgh, so I speak from experience.
However, A4e never publish the results of these exit surveys, which must run into tens of thousands.

I included those in what I was saying. Many providers use customer feedback forms, and the evidence is collated and fed into the quality management systems in the company. It's then made available for external inspectors and contract managers to look at. However, different providers ask different questions and follow different processes, and the collection method of this data makes it inherently unreliable.

For a true indication of customer satisfaction across different providers, the information must be collected by a third party in an impartial fashion. A rough-and-ready way of doing this might be to set up ratemyprovider.com in a similar fashion to ratemyteacher.com, and bear in mind that people are more likely to go out of their way to complain than praise. The alternative would be government-managed feedback collection.

Sorry, I don't buy the "A4e have more complaints because they're the biggest argument". Whilst this may be partly true, imagine if Tesco or Microsoft, market leaders in their respctive fields used the same arguments. They'd be laughed out of the room, and rightly so!

You undermine your own argument by using those two examples. Many people absolutely despise Microsoft and blame it for all the ills of the world. Tesco isn't always terribly popular either. In both cases, their sheer size is a major reason for the issues they face.

Y'know, it'd be nice to move onto other things. This 'I hate/love provider X' stuff has been dominating the conversation a bit too much, and there are a lot of other topics to discuss. I really hope the boards aren't entirely made up of 'I hate/love FND' when that starts.

Not really. I did say this was PARTLY true. However, Microsoft at least put themselves up for public scrutiny and testing of their products vis beta testing.

Does A4e? Again look at you tube and see if you can leave comments on the A4e posted vids.

Besides which, I have a choice whether to use Tesco or microsoft. I do not use one but do use the other. New Deal does NOT give you any choice of 'training' provider, even if a much better choice is available.

I moved this to a separate discussion topic, with an 'unconstructive' label attached. It's really not going anywhere fast, and everyone's talking about their experiences of a provision (New Deal) that won't even exist in a year and a half. Discussion's still open, but it won't bash all the other discussions off the front page anymore.

Well said ICM. Like you I never had a choice, A4e was the only provide on offer in Edinburgh. And to quote Terry Thomas "what an absolute shower they are".

I also noticed you can't leave comments on the official A4e vids on Youtube. I lnow the old argument about unhappy ex-cleints are more likely to leave negative comments. But you'd have thought there would at least be one positive comment about A4e, but there aren't.

With all the blogs and vids atacking A4e, they're at least now getting what they deserve - which has been long overdue. The more people know the truth about the infamous A4e and Emma Moneygrabbler the better.

Providers have a difficult job to do in a climate where unemployment is rising, yet as providers we are still expected to meet targets.

The staff who work and manage these contracts work hard and unfortunately are not going to be able to please everybody. It would be useful to those who are attending jobsearch projects with either A4e or other providers, to remember that you will only get from a programme what you are prepared to put in. Staff are there to assist you with gaining the skills and confidence to re-enter employment they are not there to get you a job, at the end of the day only you can do that for yourself.

It's very easy to critisize, but trust me when I say after working within the industry for over 15 years, with all the government checks, inspections and evidence that has to be supplied, those that who have had bad experiences with providers are far less then those who have had positive.

RE: Itempleman: I agree with many of your comments about the staff. The majority of staff at A4e Edinburgh were were very helpful, it's the company I'm critical of. Even my tutor was critical of Emma Harrsion.

I don't know who you work for, so I can't comment on your view that the majority of New Deal clients have had a good experience. In my experience, the reverse is the case

To give some example: How does being forced to attend A4e for 13 -weeks help someone who has been out of work for 16 years (and this was his third New Deal visit)? Or how about a man of 62, who was 1 year off getting a company pension.? These are people I knew from A4e Edinburgh, not stories I've read in anti-A4e blogs

What about a man in his 30s, who had never had a job, just been in government schemes. But A4E made sure he updated his CV. Do you think this make him more employable, co's I don't. Even if they gained the skills and confidence at A4e to re-enter the jobsmarket, who is going to give them a job. If you know someone who will give a job to people like them and me, get in touch.

The only 'work experience' on offer in Edinburgh was placements in charity shops. Unemployment at that time was less than 2%. Why weren't there any placemments in banks and other financial institutions, or with the council or in shops? It als seemed strange that no employers ever visited A4e Edinburgh. In my opinion, unless you get employers on board you will just continue to waste taxpayers money and demoralise the long-term unemployed even further.

Forcing people like that to attend A4e doesn't help them at all. They need specialist help. I appreciate A4e do not have any say in who the Jobcentre sends them. I know the argument, themost difficult cases are sent A4e, so why send them to A4e in the first place when they're incapable of helping the most difficult cases.

If you ask me A4e made unrealistic claims to get the contracts in the first place - about how many people they could off the dole after 13 weeks of New Deal torture. That's it, it's reverse psychology, you make the lives of unemployed even more miserable by sending them to A4e, so that if they can a job they will take it whatever it is because it's better than A4e.

In my case, I'm a graduate who hasn't worked for 4 years. And before I was sent to A4e Edinburgh in July 2008, I commenced a computer technician's course in May for 2.5 days a week. The course, I might add was free, the taxpayer never had to foot the bill, unlike A4e. And there was not any overcrowding or lack of PC's on this course.

Talking overcrowding and lack of PC's. Perhaps someone can explain why A4e and overcrowding always go together, like Laurel and Hardy. It can't be because they can't afford to lease bigger premises or reduce the number of clients being sent to them by the jobcentre. Not to mention the health and safety aspect of overcrowded rooms. On one occasion, my tutor, suggested to our group that we take an hour and visit High Riggs jobcentre (which was 5 mins away). I was immediately suspicous of such a generous offer. Unlike some, I stayed and within 30 mins a group of visitors had arrived and were being shown round by the manager. And of course she didn't want them to see the overcrowded Jobsearch room.

It would be better to put this whole Flexible New Deal on hold in the current economic climate.

I appreciate hearing your comments and relating your experience

Providers like A4e work very hard with some of the most disadvantage people helping to move them closer to the labour market. The New Deal contracts are quite prescriptive in their content I think that everyone has already acknowleged that they are not working hence the introduction of FND. It's a shame that the many, many positive experiences of customers do not get the profile that complaints like yours get. Perhaps if you put in the same amount of effort into finding a job as you have in your post you would not have been out of work for 4 years being supported by the taxpayer.

I'm open to offers, if someone wants to offer me a job interview get in touch.
The so called Flexible new Deal is nothing more than workfare. Le Anglo Saxon Economic Model

"Perhaps if you put in the same amount of effort into finding a job as you have in your post you would not have been out of work for 4 years being supported by the taxpayer." Typical A4e apologist speak. A convenient way to try and shut about someone up a bad experience whilst at A4e.

I ask you one question:

If you kept hearing bad experiences about a take-away, restaruant or fish and chip shop - poor / slow service, unsanitary conditions, rude staff and badly cooked food, would you honestly eat at such an establishment?

The owner could then say all he likes about how many satisfied customers he's served over the past 20 years. it would be of little concequence whhen you're laid up in bed puking your guts out due to picking up a stomach bug!

Blimey. This thread is still going. I'm not going to fuel it by commenting further myself after this point - I see no productive discussion going on, as nobody's opinions are changing and nobody's learning anything.

Thought for the day: 'He who pays the piper calls the tune'

What really upsets me is that A4e are trying to help people back into work. The people on this thread that are complaining/moaning about the service they offer really need to look at themselves.

You quite happily go and collect your "Wages" each week and then moan about actually having to attend a program for 13 weeks. It is quite simple, if you don't like it, go and get a job and then see if you have sympathy for people playing the system, moaning about having to attend courses but quite happily receiving benefits each week?

Unfortunately, unlike the people on this thread, there are many who want to work and would do/try most things to get there.

You only get out of life what you put in!

There isn't really an argument!

Yor missing the point by 1,000 miles. The courses DO NOT EXIST! [deleted] So who is playing the system?

With MP's fiddling expenses, no wonder [deleted]! Fraud obviously becomes second nature under such circumstances. I rather think you should do some research before making rash generalisations. Obviously you are happy to provide / accept poor service.

I attended A4e 5 years ago by the way.

Having attended A4e, I speak from experience. The so- called program consists of 30 hours a week. Which involves one day a week compulsory job search. You can't do more than one day a week because of the overcrowded job search room.

The rest of the time, unless your on placement in a charity shop on a Enviromental taks force, your largely reduced to reading newspapers the other 3 days a week.

Would you say a 62 year old man who is one year off getting a company pension is playing the system? Or how about a 57 year-old carer forced to attend A4e because her father was to proud to complete the forms so she could officially be a carer?

A4e do an exit survey on the jobseekers's last day of the New Deal program as well as follow-up surveys. Why don't they publish the figures, region by region, so we can all see just how many people they really have helped?

I have just done a 13 week a4e course in southport it was a nightmare, i got no help whatsoever from the staff, we had no pens to write with we had no paper to print our cv(we went out in the end and got our own paper) i was told by the job center i was going to a4e for traning to get my cscs card and forklift licence, i got none!!!!!!!! our job applications were found in the office not sent out from 4 weeks ago. the place is a total discrace. do a4e care no. the manchester vid is true

I believe commenters are missing the point about about several aspects regarding their A4e / other Prime New Deal provider experience. Prime providers are delivering a service bound by DWP contractual obligations. These obligations stipulate that longer term claimants on Jobseekers allowance attend for 30 hours per week, undertake a work experience placement, and participate in 6.5 hours of jobsearch activities, regardless of who the training provider is , either private or public sector. Providers are contractually obliged to accept 60 new starts every week, which (dependant on how many attend) can have obvious problems for overcrowding. Providers and staff are delivering the best service they can under the circumstances, and of course try to seek appropriate employment opportunities for customers - it is the primary reason for such contracts existing; to sustain economic growth.

can i also add that a4e didnt cause these unemployed! they didnt cause the recession, and they are doing there best with limited resources, resources that were agreed in a time before the recession! what about those that got jobs, whos lives changed because of a4e and other similar providers!

Angel: With respect, the criticism of A4e just doesn't relate to the current economic situation it goes back years.

FRom an ex client. Just for you infoEdinburgh office have on their notice boards on boh floors a gragh of evaluations! .~Published regularly.

Yes YEARS...not NOW we have offices all over the world and a few have been focussed on. i work for a4e and yes we do have some stick, but the comments of unqualified etc are starting to get on my nerves. i have a diploma in counselling and psychotherapy and am doing a level 5 qual in mood disorders. do i sound unqualified. i care very much about my clients and yes i have so many that its hard to give each one the attention they need. maybe you should give us the benefit of the doubt and lets see if we "cockup" my office wont i wont let it. and im going to be i hope a team leader in this new fnd and very proud to work in my area.

As a current A4e manager of a medium sized office I can honestly say that ALL my staff are hardworking, put the customer first and do their upmost to ensure every customer gets the help and support they want. Want being the operative word! We are faced with new starts every week without any way of knowing how many (we would much prefer a referral interview), my staff are applauded by our customers daily and yes we do get complaints, usually from those that do not appreciate that they must seek employment to continue getting JSA or that they must attend the specified times and dates. We pride ourselves on helping anyone that wants or needs it but I for one will be glad to see the introduction of FND so we can support customers on a 1:1 basis and not be faced with peer pressure which is a contributory factor for a lot of abuse and rebellion that my staff face daily but do not deserve. I have known my staff work evenings and weekends supporting our customers who find themselves homeless, have family problems and support them to find solutions to drug and alcohol dependency - not throw them on the scrap heap. I am proud of every one of them. As their manager I am faced with impossible financial targets as well as difficult targets on jobs but with the right staff and a focus on quality the rest sorts itself out. I am aware that others have different experiences of their time at A4e but this is not necessarily ALL A4e offices!

Thank you loobylou for saying that as it seems not many others will defend what a4e does, i really dont care about the directors etc as they do what they do but its unfair that some others from other areas will tar us with the same brush. i cant say anything about the past and i believe the past should be used as a lesson, i live and work in the now and will deal with each day as best i can. as for fnd i hope it will be a time of great change because change is good! well most of the time and any company going through this change will have the same pitfalls to go through... not just a4e

Loobylou: I suspect you and many others who share your dedication are far too good to be working for A4e.
And Angel: you make a good point about the directors. They obviously don't care about the mounting public criticism and the increasing media interest in A4e. They will just carry on as usual.

I have worked for A4e for many years and I won't involve myself in giving my opinion about how the organisation operates. My team work for me and together we know we do a good job, I have employed many ex-customers as staff as I strongly believe that you need an actual understanding of the issues faced by being unemployed and overcoming barriers to be able to offer a REAL service to our customers. My staff are loyal to me and the team and we pride ourselves on being human, down to earth and practical in our approach. But what I will say is that the A4e frontline staff I have met over the years (and there have been a lot) have, in the main, been a dedicated and professional bunch! When you do such a difficult job (and lets be fair it is one of the hardest and most challenging jobs you can do) it is frustrating to hear such negative comments. I think whichever training provider you work for you should be recognised for the tough job you do. How many people go to work and face tears, anger, frustration, drug addicts, alcoholics, single parents, university graduates and ESOL customers all in one day and still be expected to remain calm, understanding and retain a sense of humour? Exceptional individuals work in W2W! It will be these individuals that will make FND work not those that will reap the financial rewards (mores the pity)

i dont think you can say i made any comment on the directors, i said thats where theres critiscism from external quarters. i dont know any so i cant comment on what they do...please dont try to twist what i say, it makes you look small.

also you must have very low self esteem and be very bitter your name "unemployable" says alot. maybe if you placed your loyalties with a company as i do and do your best every day as all a4e staff do then you would be able to change it to " employable"

Angel: And you say i sound bitter, take a look in the mirror. You don't know hat the directors do, come off it. Loyalty should be a two way street, perhaps someone should your directors that, they're scum.

Angel: I was trying to be sympathetic, and you thrown it back in my face. And you say I'm bitter. Perhaps you should make a comment on the directors, feel free, go on. Check out the Radio 5 Donal McIntyre Investigates from April. You might want to tell your directors that loyalty is a two-way street. But I suspect they're only interested in increasing profits. And for the record: I'd rather be in prison than work for A4e

yes your very bitter. i have never met any directors dont have there job discription and cant comment. i heard mr mckintire and to be honest i was hoping he would come to my office as it bears no resemblence to anything mr mckintire reported.

So which office are you in. Brigadoon, a fabulous perfect A4e office appears once every 50 years

So which office are you in. Brigadoon, a fabulous perfect A4e office appears once every 50 years

oh dear how funny......"tumbleweed rolls past the window lonely and alone" no of course your not bitter pmsl

Q: What's the difference between an A4e office and a Victorian workhouse?
A: You can always find a seat in a Victorian workhouse

Come to my A4e office unemployable and you'll not only get a chair but a coffee too - oh and lots of help and support and probably a job at the end of it (BUT ONLY IF YOU WANT ONE!)

Can any one really believe A4e will be different with the creation of FND? After all the fixed funding per client will certainly encourage the parking of difficult to help clients.

No amount of this supposed flexibility in FND will make up for the lack of funds to provide education to really improve the long term unemployed's chances of getting a job.

While i realise thier are good people that actually work for A4e and that really care for the clients (I personally haven't had the pleasure of doing IAP with them)Sadly there is plenty of evidence to suggest that A4e as a company only care's for profits and the DWP has sadly set up a funding model for FND that will encourage parking.

What saddens me is the government can and does keep contracting out to these company's who have provided poorly with the current New Deal provision.

Dear lord. Is this discussion still running? I'm only performing reactive moderation on discussions marked as 'unconstructive', as I don't actually read them. I only noticed this one was still active because of the 14 new posts and position at the top of the discussion page. I need to do something about the ranking of forum topics to stick this one lower down. If you object to the content of a specific comment or post, get in touch through the contact us page.

Thanks Angel: I qualified as an IT technician last year, so I'm looking for work in that field.

As an ex employee of A4e in [a UK city], - sacked for speaking out, and exposing the incompetency of management - I can vouch for the more realistic expositions of clients' experiences like that of Manchester.

I found that clients' were harassed into taking any job no matter how demeaning just so A4e [in the city] could meet its targets. One [highly experienced client] was humiliated by one member of staff. When this [client] asked for the applicable training that would help him get a post suitable to his calibre he was humiliated by a tutor - minus a teaching qualification -in front of other clients and ordered like a concentration camp victim to a private room. She ordered me like a junior to accompany her. The man was accused of been unable to speak proper English by this woman, and that he could not have the training that he requested, or more to the point, that was necessary to his line of work experience. At this juncture I was on the verge of walking out, and tears welled in my eyes. I couldn't speak as I was emotionally upset. The same battleaxe tutor privately informed me that she doubted the [client]’s qualifications, saying that they were suspect. She had no evidence, but was making the assumptions based on his race. She assumed he’d purchased a bogus qualification in his home country, whereas the man studied at [a UK] University.

The same man along with other highly qualified clients at A4e [in the city] were told by one recruitment team member that she and her colleagues could not help them as they were over qualified. The jobs that clients were persuaded to apply for were low paid, and more to the point low skilled, such as cleaning. These are the jobs that nobody wants to take as they are not sustainable or financially viable to most clients.

The training placements clients were offered were low skilled, such as shop work in a charity store where most clients complained that they received no training in all aspects of the job, but for the most part told to sort out stock, or sweep the floor.

There was one female client from [another country] who has a degree and is qualified in administration. As such this woman was offered a placement at a4e where she was only given photocopying duties. In-between photocopying she sat and twiddled her thumbs. She complained to me as did other clients as I was prepared to listen. However because of the fascist nature in which the branch was run I was helpless to change any situation for the complaining clients.

The clients who did complain about A4e [in the city] were the more educated, skilled ones. Those most vulnerable such as the low skilled clients were terrified of having their benefits stopped - as this was a constant threat made to them by staff members - and therefore dared not speak out.

Indeed, the lower skilled were herded together into one classroom, which was heavily over-subscribed often with clients sitting on desks or the floor due to a lack of provisions. There was a severe lacking of computers and certainly severely disproportionate to the client numbers. With only 15 computers between approximately 100 clients, they were made to use them in 1- 1.5 hour relays and were sat two - three at one computer station. This over subscription was marketed as peer - to - peer job searches

There was a point when the only printer accessible to the clients in the department I taught in broke down. It was broke for weeks on ends without being fixed or replaced.

The parsony of A4e [in the city] meant that there was no air conditioning as they were not budgeted for such facilities. As such clients sweltered in high temperatures during the hot summer days. As they became dehydrated the water coolers ran out of water and clients were left to further dehydrate.

Other facilities in very short supply were basic utensils such as pens and paper. Of course this is because A4e [city] branch has a tight budget and as such the clients don't receive an adequate service even at the most basic level. Moreover it is the tax payers’ money that is funding this shambles while ivory tower owner Emma Harrison sits in her huge mansion with a fleet of classic cars profiting from the naive tax payer.

Yes, A4e will say they do fulfil their obligation and that they get jobs for clients. But the jobs are for the most part, low paid and low skilled and dead end types. They often don't last and the client is back at A4e in no time at all. A4e of course has made their statistics look good and formed a PR stunt that makes the company look as if it’s fulfilling its obligations.

The public relations of A4e [city] branch were reliant on what is termed in the company’s’ jargon as 'good news stories' written by clients about their positive experiences whilst on programme. The reality is that staff were coerced and harassed by the [city] branch manager and likewise line managers into acquiring 'good news stories' from clients. The staff then coerced clients, to tell a story about their experience at A4e which was then given a positive spin by the tutor. The majority of stories were negative from clients, but they were never written about or published in the clients' monthly newspaper.

When I protested about what was going on at A4e [in this city], exposing my managers' incompetence, I was told that I was a poor performer and unprofessional. As such I was sacked. One such gripe was the lack of training for the specialised nature of the teaching. I was just thrown into a classroom of angry, disillusioned clients and left to 'get on with it'.

[Moderation - I received a complaint about this message on behalf of one the clients mentioned in it, asking me to remove identifying features. I've done this. On looking through the message, it's borderline throughout, with frequent characterisations of systems as 'fascist', personal slurs against staff, and an implication that A4e and otehr providers are only in it for the money. To make it clear: Just because I allow this posting to remain on the site for the time being does not mean that I think it is a fair refelction of A4e or welfare to work delivery generally. It is a reflection of the experience and views of one very grumpy person, in the same way that all posts on the site are primarily representative of the poster's own experiences]

im sorry for your experiences. i truly am. but all way through the threads i hear the same offices mentioned, did you appeal and put forward your case? what happened. i simply cant share your experiences as i have been treat very well by a4e and my clients really do enjoy coming to see us and they are looked after.

I'm with Angel on this - my experience of working for A4e has been generally good. There have been difficult targets to achieve and the workload is something else but overall mines a great office and team! Its a pity that a handful of A4e offices have given the rest of us a bad name. We have a great time with the majority of our clients from fundraising to days out as well as the regular stuff. We are doing ok on jobs too in a town that is considered deprived with high unemployment. A4e are such a big company that there are bound to one or two bad apples.

I'd just like to thank Daniel for giving me the opporunity to express my views on this site. Thanks, Daniel.

One big CON. Simples.

Ok, not a con? Then merely a way of making profit for a corporation through the 'use' of unemployed people. It's interesting that such organisations are still treating their 'customers' well. Ha!
Stack 'em high. Sell 'em cheap.

To those that ARE NOT scamming the benefits system. Be true to yourself and good luck.

If you are scamming the system, then that's your choice.
The media however aren't helping by implying that a high number of claimants are working on the side, lazy etc. This simply isn't true.

Some people could be forgiven for thinking that such actions are deliberate to influence the masses opinion of those on benefits.

God help the genuine unfortunates among us.

Wow ! with such Sinicism how do you cope on a daily basis? there are no perfect companys and thats because theres no such thing as perfect people... instead of gripping why not do something about it? this is not said in an unkind way but im confused that someone who claims to be so knowledgeable does nothing more than complain?

If A4e staff wish to praise their particular office they night at least say which office it is. We already know the bad ones, so let's find out about the good ones!!!

I work for one of the other big providers and I'm going to defend A4e a bit here. Lets face some facts:

1. Many of the members referred to us do NOT want to work and are happy to play the system. Complaining about providers is easy and suits there personal agenda.

2. JCP don't want to work with providers (for fear of their own incompetence at moving members into work being revealed) and fail to explain to members exactly why they are being referred to a provider e.g. because they are close to, or ready to enter, the job market.

3. JCP send unsuitable referrals simply to make their figures look good and providers look bad.

Its about time providers spent more time talking up the good service that most provide. Of course there will be pockets of poor service and these need to be dealt with quickly and effectively, but there are far more areas of good or even excellent service across all providers. We need to gain people respect for our industry - we will never shake off the 'grabbing bucket loads of tax payers money for nothing' tag unless we all get our act together, continue to improve our service even further, and tell people about it positively.

There, rant over! I am very passionate about what we do and know that it works and really does make a difference.

I was at one of the bad one's,(manchester, before mindel) and without question 85% of the staff would have given more than enough to help customers, 10% were management delivering msg's from above (and creaming the benefits, and who wouldnt , go with us, make money..loose yer job for another yes man ?). I really hope things have changed at top level, and the last 5 % were just bad at the job, it happens with that many staff, with the pre-mentioned making decisions on employee's

If A4e is so good, why defend it? Surely its reputation should speak for itself.

If A4e is so good, then why defend it? Surely its reputation should speak for itself!

I'm sure that some of these 'providers' provide a decent service and are mostly staffed by human beings that are fair and do not treat the people attending like a commodity.

Even though in reality they are just that. That's a fact.

Yes some people do not want to work in any capacity.
But people expressing their dismay at the conditions they have to put up with on such schemes aren't all simply disgruntled, inconvenienced people who are either lazy or scamming the benefits system. Some are, but not all. Correct?

If only life was so simple. Between black and white there are many shades of grey.

update on my other post.. i complained to job center about my a4e this is some of the letter they sent (form 3rd party provision team merseyside district) me it is verry long and am not typing it all

jcp refer customers to a4e with varing degrees of knowledge and ability they are required to tailor the delivery to meet the individual needs. we apologise if this has not happened during your time with a4e. to ensure that customers are receiving training suitable to there needs jcp will monitor this via our internal process.( I and many others got no traning no work placement )

in relation to the it issues a4e have assured jcp that they have a good level of it equipment on site however on occasions this ,may run slowly. ( the computers are out the ark they must be 8 year old or more slow is not the word)

we complained about health safety its long this part so i cut it

as a4e is classed as ahealth and safety executive as an educational and traning establishment there is no legal upper limit as to the numbers of customers in a traning room. however both a4e and jcp would not consider it to be conducive to good traning delivery to have excessive numbers. as numbers on programme stand and as a4e southport currently have more than 45%(joke) of customers undertaking placement activities they feel that the premises and staffing(1staff) are adequate they have explained that the customers group can be split between the traning rooms on the ground floor and first floor should it be necessary, this situation will be reviewed on a regular basis via jcp contract management..

with regard to the office supplies a4e have informed jcp that these are purchased on a monthly basis however if they run out prior to the bulk delivery arriving alternative supplies can be purchesed locally this should be resolved by the local office staff. basic suplies should be kept up to date and stored in cupboards which staff on site are aware of, if these run out again they should be replaced punctually . a4e have apologised if this has not always been the case and assured us that they will endeavour to ensure that in future supplies are kept in stock...we had no pens paper for cv no tolite roll soap tea milk newspapers

a4e have investigated the issue regarding delays in posting application forms ets. a4e agree that there have been delays in the past, a4e have assured us that they have put systems in place to ensure that this will not happen in the future, they will ensure that mail will be posted on a daily basis. a4e agree that this type of error is not acceptable. jcp will monitor this process to ensure that appropriate action is being taken...we found job apps in the office not sent out from 4 weeks ago// the dole came in every day for a week in the morning to make sure they were posted, fot 1 week only!!!!

that is just some of the letter notice how they say a4e have assured usa4e have informed us etc etc it just shows the 3rd party provision team and the job center dont care they just take what a4e say as gospel truth they dont go and check..... the health and safety is a very long part of my letter.. after the complaint an health and safety officer came to a4e it was a4e own health safety officer i pointed out our concerns he was having none of it all he did was put a few signs up( the wrong signs i might add)i have worked in the building trade for 26 years i am no expert but i no there were plenty of health and safety issues the did they care no, no 1 cares.

i went to a4e so i was told to get my cscs card forklift traning placement i got none of them all i dit was sit in front of a computer, o yes i forgot my first week there an agency phoned me so i took the job they said it was for a week on the friday the foreman came to me at 1030 and said are you ok for anougher 2 weeks i said yes fine 1 hour later gets a phone call from the firm that i was working for , they were acting as an agency, he said i have had some woman on the phone trying to make me sign a form to say you might be here for 13 weeks, my boss said that he could not say that i would be there for 13 weeks he said they were harrasing him to say it..... after dinner the forman came to me he said got some bad news your sacked!!! now i can not prove it was coz of that phone call but it was....................back to a4e........

maybe its time for some undercover filming of what goes on at providers in general, where complaints have been made, ie a person sent in as a claimaint, but they film the conditions for a documentary.......

It would clear the providers names and prove they have nothing to hide and are acting above board surely? Either that, or it would prove there are problems?

The person formally employed by A4E who left their informed comments on June 20th provided a valuable insight into the twilight world of this for-profit-company.

The experiences this person had, largely echoed mine at A4E's Hounslow operation - please note - many of the staff at hounslow were passionate in trying to help people...the fault lay with off-site management.

However, to be fair, A4E is not the only provider that subjects its 'customers' to what is tantamount to abuse (in its widest sense) - I have personal experience of several other providers in the West and South London districts (i.e Deptford, Croydon, Wimbledon and Kingston) that are/were paid to offer 'training' but offered nothing...indeed they actually admitted to as much!

Money for old rope...is the phrase that springs to mind.

Further, the Blair/Brown regime deliberately manipulate the UK unemployment figures by getting/forcing as many unemployed persons onto New Deal...why...because under ILO rules only persons claiming JSA are counted as 'unemployed' whilst those on New Deal 'training courses' are not - this is a fact - check with the International Labour Organisation.

"A4e do NOT povide skills and training to New Deal clients. "

False : A4e most definitely DO provide skills and training to New Deal clients.

Apparently, on a national level, colleges have been inundated with the need to provide tutors for "Employability Courses" on New Deal Programmes delivered by A4E (amongst others) that Protocol National (for example) are advertising vacancies stipulating that "no qualifications are necessary" and that "full training will be provided".

A4E has apparently attempted (and succeeded) in having critical blog sites closed down by threatening legal action agaist ISPs...nevertheless...despite all their efforts...the truth will and is coming into sharp focus.

As to the comments posted on 25/7/09 claiming that A4E provides training to ND claiments...my response is...prove it...mere rebuttal is not enough.

With regard to my postings...I have EVIDENCE.

JC+ is swamped with complaints about providers (not just A4E) failing to provide the worthwhile training that trade and industry demands - a point made all to clearly on a recent Newsnight programme when the Employment Minister bumbled out a serious of off pat government PR statements in an attempt to counter the first hand experiences of the guests...mostly new graduates...and a job club organiser.

The Work and Pensions Committee today announced an inquiry into “Management and administration of contracted employment programmes” The Committee welcomes submissions, in accordance with the guidelines set out below, with reference to areas such as:

• Are there sufficient safeguards in place to prevent providers from making fraudulent claims for outcomes they have not achieved?

• Is there sufficient protection for employees who raise concerns about their employers’ delivery of a contracted employment programme?

• Does DWP’s contract management approach ensure the quality of service received by customers is commensurate with the level required under the contract terms?

• Do DWP and the National Audit Office effectively monitor the accuracy of providers’ management information systems, provider performance against targets, and the evidence on which provider payments are claimed?

• How has the centralisation of contract management in DWP impacted upon the role of Jobcentre Plus and both provider and customer experience of outsourced employment programmes?

• Will the customer charter proposed by DWP ensure that customers, Jobcentre Plus and contractors know what they can expect of employment programmes?

• Will contract management in the prime contractor model be transparent and effective in monitoring quality throughout the supply chain, and in maintaining a role for sub-contractors?

The Committee seeks written contributions on this issue from interested organisations and individuals. The deadline for written evidence is Thursday 1 October 2009. Oral evidence sessions will take in the autumn.

Please note

Each submission should:

• begin with a short summary in bullet point form;

• have numbered paragraphs; and

• be in Word format with no use of colour/logos.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to workpencom [at] parliament [dot] uk and marked ‘Contracted employment programmes’. If you do not have access to email, a paper copy should be sent to:

Work and Pensions Select Committee, House of Commons, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A guide for written submissions to Select Committees may be found on the parliamentary website at: http://www.parliament.uk/commo.....tguide.htm

Please also note that:

• Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.

• Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless specifically authorised.

• Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Record Office. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose

[redacted]

I have worked for a local labour initiative for 12 years and previously for Jobcentre as was for four years. In all my years of experience I have never encountered a shabbier more cynical organisation as A4E. Hopeless staff giving flawed, incomplete and sometimes downright wrrong information. These people are only interested in making money for themselves and their employers. As for the client base, I would be surly and unco-operative too if forced to sit in a basement reading days old newspapers for 13 weeks while being hectored by smug no-hopers whose only ami is their bonus.

Off topic - I am intrested, for my own knowledge, in the bid process. Can someone suggest reading material.

Many primes are sub-contracting with charites. From what I've seen renumeration is terrible and targets are hard.

I simply must add,that as an ex A4e employee the overcrowding particularly on ND ESOL schemes did exist. I visited several London offices and saw this practice. That said, I worked with a fantastic team( more or less) elsewhere, and a business manager who understood quality over quantity. We had one of the highest Job Entry rates(legitimate you naysayers out there) in our region. To be honest the pay is poor and attracts poor candidates. Is this the problem???? I don't know but it doesn't help. It's tough out there, government put pressure on and on it goes.

Good day sirs and ladies

can someone help me please..i made a data access request to jcp to see data that they had on me from my time at a4e, it has been 70 days now and i have had nowt off them. DWP Merseyside District Office chester was emailing me at first now they just do not reply to my emails what can I do ?

Highpark1: I'm no expert but I'd email them again saying that unless they respond to your request in the next 14 days you will have no alternative but to contact your MP.

I have contacted mp i have also reported them to the ico the ico dont respond to my emails now !!!!!!!!

Highpark1: Short of standing outside the office concerned with a placard I don't know what else you can do.

thats a good idea gerry why didnt i think of that.. make's me think though why they wont let me have what i have asked for ie data from my time at a4e that is now closed!! i think i no why they wont give it to me.

Hi - make an application under the Freedom of Information Act or threaten to get an Order of the Court (more commonly known as a Court Order)- should make them think - or alternatively talk to someone at your local paper...bad publicity sometimes works :-))

HighPark1 it is all about proving to them that you mean business!! Send a reminder to thme via recorded delivery that is to both DWP and the ICO. To back this up post your FIO on this site http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ the site will make public your request and the response or lack of it. In fact a message to all of you all use the http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ site so we can all keep track on FIOs from all sources

Sned a copy of your FIO to the Legal department at DWP with a copy of your application to the court for a judicial review. Sned a copy of your fio and complaint about lack of action to the Minister and you MP. Contact Dermot at radio 4 or 5 Contact the makers of Benfit Busters. Contact your local papers and also send a copy of all your correspondence to Emma Harrison at A4e WAKE THEM ALL UP AT ONCE!

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/dwp A LINK TO ALL FIO REQUESTS TO DWP FROM THE SITE RECOMMENDED ABOVE TO AVOID DUPLICATION

A4e need to be got rid of !!

In a Guardian article of the 30 Sept 2009, Emma Harrison of A4e said "You can't sit everyone in a classroom for 30 hours for 13 weeks. It's just wrong, and it doesn't work. It's like going to a hospital and everyone getting the same treatment."

Here's the link to the article in case you don't believe me. I don't believe me, perhaps I have latent dyslexia.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/sep/30/emma-hamilton-unemployment-tougher-benefits

86 days since my data request to southport job center for data on me from my time at a4e, still got nowt, wrote a letter of complaint to southport job center it has been ten days now since i wrote the letter they should have wrote back to me within 10 days thats what it says on there web site. now i have to go to the job center once a week(why is this i ask my self no one else gose once a week only them on new deal !!!) I am getting lots a hassle at my job center now, I feel I am being singled out and harassed for what asking for data on me from a4e bang out a order what is it they are trying to hide ?? had a letter back from the ico they say there is now a case worker on my case and will be in touch soon........ this is becoming a nightmare i get the feeling that the job center will use any excuse to stop my dole if that happens i dont know what i will do..............................

Simple answer to this Highpark 1. GET A JOB !!!

Highpark1 believes he has a legitimate greivance,so saying he should get a jobe is irrelevant.

I found this out a few weeks ago have to watch what I say here.. A welfare to work provider is under investigation in my local area I have got this info from two people 1 from jcp not my local jcp the other person works for a w2w provider not the 1 under investigation. I have been told that the w2w provider under investigation my local jcp will not use them anymore. I went today to the learndirect center I am doing ecdl with them, but it has been closed down, under the learndirect center is a w2w provider there were 4 clients there they could cram 30 more in there and have done hmmmmmmmm. so back to my data request to jcp still heard nowt. I have read somewere that if there is an investigation going on that they do not have to give me the info is this true???? O YE TO THE PEEPS THAT ARE INVESTIGATING THE W2W PROVIDER I HAVE A LOT THAT I HAVE NOT SAID YET IF YOU WANT TO HEAR MY STORY GET IN TOUCH IT IS REAL GOOD STUFF

TO THE PERSON THAT SAID GET A JOB TELL ME WERE THE JOB IS AND I WILL DO IT.. THIS YEAR I MUST HAVE SENT 4-5 HUNDERD OF CV OUT.. WORK IN THE BUILDING TRADE IS STARTING UP AGAIN IN MY AREA I HAVE BEEN TO ALL THE SITES 1 SITE THAT I HAVE WORKED FOR BEFORE WANTS ME BUT NOT YET,

To the ANON creep who was so rude to highpark1 re the comment "get a job"...have the guts to give your name !!!!

Although I don't agree with the comments made about getting a job I have come across Highpark on numerous websites/utube making derogatory comments about A4e. I think his motive is more of a personal vendetta than purely commenting for discussion/information and as such this is maybe not the place to promote this and should be monitored.

derogatory comments! personal vendetta!... tell me 1 single thing that i have said that is not true. a4e no who i am they no were i live my email my phone number if they have a problem with what i say about them why do they not stop me (or try and they will never do that)
for evil to prevail all it takes is for good men to do nothing

THE TRUTH HURTS

Need I say more.

A4e is awful they are making me ill, stressed and depressed. I am a graduate who is doing lots of charity work. all a4e seem to want to do is fling me on a near minimum wage job which is dead end and may stop me doing suff which is gaining me useful office experience and i see as helping me move forward. If i get anything from a4e it will be long term depression.
I don't think A4e is just awful and corrupt. I think A4e is unhealthy and makes people ill (mental + physical). I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility someone commiting suicide due to A4e negligence. What ever the law says A4e is morrally and ethically corrupt(IMHO)!

That Highpark1 dude needs to stop taking the mushrooms, I mean let's keep it real man. I hope your local building site give's you a position with their company, thay need good men like you, just like thay need someone to make the tea all day !!

Hello Emma Harrison (aka Anonymous...the one who attacks Highpark1 and defends A4E without hesitation)...LOL - I recognize your style...I had the misfortune to meet you...by the way, are you still paying David Blunkett (ex Labour minister and MP) £30,000 per year...gotta laugh haven't you...keep taking the tablets...:-)

As an employee working on DWP contracts I really thought this website was a breath of fresh air, unfortunately it seems there are a lot of people on here who are determined to turn it into a slagging match of providers which unfortunately will take away its credibility. I think users should stick to using this site as a source of information and save the comments about providers to other less notable sites!

hmmm i feel a Campaign against me.. friday my computer got hacked lost all my stuff on computer from the last year but dont worry its all in me head... i will not post on here for a while dont want a ban, i will stay on hubpages...

I haven't read all the posts in here, but I'm a bit fed up of it appearing at the top of the discussions page. Time to close it down I feel. For reference, this discussion was marked as 'unconstructive', meaning that it's only moderated upon request (I don't read it), that unhelpful comments from elsewhere are occasionally moved here, that comments never appear in the 'recent comments' listings, and that it is very unlikely to contain anything useful.