THE company tasked with helping thousands of people in the North-East back to work has said it will look into criticisms from a jobseeker about the quality of its courses.

Employment group Avanta was appointed last month to help deliver the Government’s new Work Programme.

But only weeks into its new multi-million pound contract, the organisation – formed from the merger of TNG and InBiz – has been forced to defend its performance.

Jobseeker Stephanie Finnegan, a former university graduate from Eston, near Middlesbrough, said an induction day organised by Avanta on Teesside was chaos.

Her criticisms included:

• Basic spelling mistakes in a “learning” website created by the company and used by those taking part in the induction;
• A diagnostic assessment, which included the question “Do you need to be referred to a psychologist?”;
• Contradictions in the information given to jobseekers.

Ms Finnegan, who contacted The Northern Echo with her concerns, also said an online course in basic maths she took on the day asked her how to add 70p to £2.25.

She said: “I learnt to use a calculator when I was four.”

Ms Finnegan said after constructing an action plan and filling out an employability needs questionnaire she saw three experts – an employment consultant, a career coach and a job coach.

But the information she received from them was, in some instances, contradictory.

She said: “One coach explained that 80 per cent of all jobs in the UK are not advertised and it is a waste of time looking in newspaper for jobs, yet on their own Learning Zone website it explains the number one place to search for jobs is in the newspapers.”

Ms Finnegan added: “On this evidence, the work programme has no future.”

Kaye Rideout, a regional director with Avanta, said: “All of our customers that we’re helping into work have different requirements and barriers to employment. We take the time to thoroughly assess their needs, so we can provide individualised support.

“This includes undertaking assessments of any barriers to employment, as well as evaluating numeracy and literacy skill levels, which will vary.

“We help individuals access ‘hidden jobs’ that aren’t advertised through traditional means, as well as source those that are advertised in newspapers and through other conventional sources.

“We always value feedback and we’re looking into the points Ms Finnegan raised.”

A spokesman for Avanta said it had started to see results and had helped a number of people into job across the region.