Archive for the ‘Department of Work and Pensions’ Category

Jobseeker’s Allowance – Learning lessons?

August 27, 2009

This morning, I received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Apparently, they have commissioned a independent research agency IFF into Jobseekers Allowance. According to the letter, the aim of the study is to “talk to people about their experience of claimin Jobseeker’s Allowance and about whether they think Jobcentre Plus is meeting their needs”.

Perhaps the DWP have cottoned to the fact that Jobcentre Plus needs to be improved. Anyway, I am looking forward to my 15 minute telephone interview next week – possibly the only time I will be happy to talk to a market researcher.

Unemployed and actively seeking work?

August 17, 2009

I think I’ll have to first speak to Jobseekers Direct on a hypothetical basis, telling them that I am thinking about going back to university in October and find out if and when I would have to sign off. They will presumably make a note of my enquiry on the system (or at least they ought to).

Based on what they advise me, I will then approach either the Job Centre Plus personal adviser or the consultant at Employer Engagement on a hypothetical or actual basis.

I hope this isn’t dishonest – obviously I would value a second opinion. Should I take this hypothetical approach or just be upfront about it?

(I know that I will have to sign off my claim at the end of September. The issue is whether I can still continue claiming between now and then if I continue to apply for jobs and go for interviews and be prepared to take up any work before the end of September, with a view to leaving the job when the course starts.)

New Deal for Graduates

August 14, 2009

I met up with the consultant from Employer Engagement for a practice interview. She gave some positive feedback and I found out more about what was involved in New Deal for Graduates.

There is a work placement of up to 24 hours a week but, since I am already volunteering of my own accord, they have no problem with using that as the work placement. Once every two weeks, I meet up with the consultant and there are exercises to do at home. Essentially, this is something that I can live with – no major difference to my “job hunting”, continue volunteering and no pointless courses.

Oh, I also learnt that I receive Job Seekers Allowance as well as the Training Allowance. I clarified this with the personal adviser at the job centre. He confirmed that even though the main part of the programme is a work placement, it is still considered a course, so a training allowance is given as well.

Employer Engagement are based in Brighton, so when they come up to South London, they use an room in the offices of Career Development Group (CDG). So I have had the opportunity to observe another New Deal programme. This is what I saw – people coming and going as they please, people sitting round and chatting, very little job search and token classes. In fact, it seemed very much like a student common room than the offices of a “welfare to work” provider.

When I was doing the two week gateway course, A4E were a little bit more disciplined but is was effectively the same sort of atmosphere. Employer Engagement aside, if this is what welfare to work is all about, then the government really needs to reconsider its policy.

For your perusal…New Deal For Graduates

August 11, 2009

Hey! I have talked about New Deal for Graduates (or New Deal for Professionals and Managers to give it its proper title) and I thought you might be interested to actually see the workbook which claimants are supposed to complete within the 13 weeks. (Apologies for some of the answers being completed.)

There are almost 100 pages but it would great if you could provide any feedback about the workbook.

Just the tip of the iceberg…

August 10, 2009

And I got into an argument with A4E for the sheer pointlessness of their two week gateway course and their refusal to allow me to do extra volunteering. That’s nothing compared to internet censorship, benefit fraud and profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Lowsaltfoods supports the battle against A4E.

Benefit Busters

August 8, 2009

Word up! There’s a documentary series starting Channel 4 on 20 August about the government’s welfare to work programme, featuring everyone’s favourite New Deal provider Action for Employment.

Is this the Holy Grail of JSA?

August 5, 2009

I finally had my initial assessment with Employer Engagement regarding a place on the New Deal for Professionals programme. The consultant/adviser that I met was very understanding and encouraging. She clearly knew what she was doing and knew the right questions to ask. The great thing about this particular programme is that it involves a 13 week work placement, minimum of a couple of days per week. It’s up to me to provide them with a list of small to medium sized companies for whom I would be interested in working. They then contact the companies and to secure a placement. Even better, I can save time by using the voluntary work that I am currently doing as the “work placement”. In other words, for 13 weeks or so, the Job Centre Plus Service is precisely tailored to my needs.

Give me a break!

July 23, 2009

Despite my positive posts about Job Centre Plus lately, it is still fundamentally inflexible. I was suppose to have an “initial assessment” for the Graduate New Deal programme yesterday but had to reschedule due to a job interview (yeah, me). Apparently, Employer Engagement, the course provider, only hold initial assessments every two weeks. That’s not a problem. But today I have been advised by my “personal adviser” at the Job Centre Plus that I am running out of time before I have to be booked onto a New Deal 13-week course. If I haven’t been booked onto the Graduate New Deal course by the deadline, I will be booked onto the next New Deal course, regardless of its suitability. Come on, give me a break! It’s not like I am resisting New Deal. I have accepted that it is something I have to do and both my personal adviser and myself agree that Graduate New Deal is the best option. So, if I am lucky enough to get another job interview which clashes with my “initial assessment”, and as a result, have not been booked onto the programme, is it just tough shit?

Something for Jobseeking professionals

July 22, 2009

Those of you you have visited this site before will know that I have had major issues with Job Centre Plus, namely that they do not serve jobseekers from professional or middle class backgrounds. Well, in the space of the last two weeks, I have discovered four different initiatives that are aimed at white collar workers.

Employer Engagement are running New Deal for Graduates (or New Deal for Professionals and Management, as my personal adviser at the job centre called it). It’s only available after you have been claiming Job Seekers Allowance for six months and have completed the two week New Deal Gateway course. It’s a combination of job hunting skills and a 13 week work placement from which there is a 60-80% chance of job.

I picked up a leaflet at my local job centre for a programme run by GR Law for lawyers and legal staff, finance staff, professional services support staff, job seekers looking for work internationally and/or salary earners of £25K to £300K. It’s not advertised on the GR Law website, so I assume it’s by referral by Job Centre Plus.

I also picked up a leaflet in my local job centre for Response to Redundancy. A google search reveals quite a few entries so I think it is a larger project. Also, you can contact them directly without referral from Job Centre Plus.

Finally, there some useful online career tools available from Careerplan4me (yes, I know catchy URL). I clicked on a banner advert and was taken to a website, where I requested details online. I then received a letter to be shown to my Jobcentre adviser, who would then fill in a form and register you so that you can access for free. I have not proceeded with this service, so I don’t know what tools are available.

Going over to the dark side…almost

June 28, 2009

Ok, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Mostly, that’s been because I am actually applying for jobs and don’t want to waste time blogging. Then, I get demotivated and frustrated from the lack of response and end up wasting time surfing the web for looking for decent porn. (Actually, it is a waste of time looking for decent port on the internet – because there isn’t any.)

Anyway, it’s occurred to me over the many months of unemployment that the only organisation recruiting in these economic times is the Department for Work and Pensions, mainly to deal with the resulting upsurge in claimants. Yes, I may have issues about Job Centre Plus and the way they do things, but I do want a job and if they are the only people offering, it would be churlish to say no. Who knows, I might actually be able to do some good with my experience.

It must be competitive though. The first two times I applied, I didn’t get past the application stage. The third time, I actually got an interview, for a personal adviser position. I was so excited and actually started picturing myself as a personal adviser. After having some mock interview practice with a friend and really practising my competencies, I felt quietly confident. Indeed, at the interview, one of the recruitment agency staff observed that I looked calm – but that was down to Jesus. She also said I was dressed really smart – thanks to BHS. I felt the interview went ok.

Unfortunately, within a couple of days, they informed me that I was not successful. Still, I am not worried. I have two more interviews lined up anyway.