The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is to update its guidance to Jobcentre Plus staff to ask them to direct jobseekers to digital time bank and task-sharing platforms where appropriate, as part of an ongoing drive to get more people into work.
The announcement was made in a Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) response document to the recent independent review of the UK’s £9bn sharing economy – based around skills and asset trading platforms such as Airbnb – that has already resulted in the creation of a new trade association for the sector, Sharing Economy UK (SEUK).
In the document, which set out a range of proposals for government involvement in the sharing economy, the government said using skills sharing platforms in this way would help boost skills, experience and income.
It said that while the majority of Jobcentre Plus claimants would “continue to be supported into full-time, sustainable jobs”, the government recognised that this was not an appropriate scenario for all jobseekers, some of whom might only be able to work part-time due to caring commitments, for example.
In light of this, Jobcentre Plus coaches will now be able to signpost claimants looking for flexible working opportunities to task-sharing platforms, “where appropriate”, from autumn 2015.
Read more about the sharing economy
- The government has set out a number of proposals to assist in the development of the £9bn UK sharing economy.
- While the sharing economy is changing conventional models, downsides can loom, including quality control and effective protection of workers' rights.
- The government has launched a review of the sharing economy to evaluate the economic potential and social implications created by people sharing products and services.
BIS also revealed that DWP would also be enabled to consider the use of time-banking opportunities where appropriate, to get more people volunteering.
It did, however, point out that Jobcentre Plus staff would need to consider that the requirements of volunteer work opportunities did not stop people from searching for full-time work.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We’re in the process of drafting the guidance.” Further details are expected to emerge soon.
SEUK had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing, but speaking independently, one startup entrepreneur told Computer Weekly he felt the move was a “great result” for the sharing economy as a whole.
“Skills-sharing platforms provide a great opportunity for all sorts of people to gain more professional autonomy, flexibility and variety,” he said.