Archive for the ‘unemployment’ 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.

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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.

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?

From their comfort of their own homes…

July 13, 2009

In true spirit of global communication, and the risk of sounding like a right wing bigot or Daily Mail reader, foreigners do not even have to come to this country to take British jobs – they can do it from the “comfort” of their own land.

For clarification, I am not white or working class. I am British and Asian and middle class. And I have personally seen the effect of this outsourcing of skilled jobs halfway across the world for the sake of cost. At my previous employer, it was the legal administration team who were made redundant and their jobs were carried out by qualified lawyers in India. I have previously written about this concept of offshore outsourcing. Whilst I can see the benefits from a business point of view, it is just wrong from human point of view.

Definitely not so bad…

July 2, 2009

I went to sign on today. And my personal adviser told me about a 13 week New Deal course called – wait for it – New Deal for Graduates (although he called it New Deal for Professional and Management).  Yes, that’s right, a New Deal programme aimed, not at the masses, but at the unemployed white collar workers. That puts an arrow through my criticism of Job Centre Plus’ blanket application of the rules.  I hope that it lives up to my expectations but, having been the two week Gateway course, that should not be too difficult. Still, I have been much more willing to sign up for this course, because I can see that it will be more useful.

According to information provided by my personal adviser, New Deal for Graduates is a “work experience scheme to help graduates identify an appropriate career, and give them relevant work experience”. It promises flexibility with regard to industries (including rescuing baboons in Africa and space exploration)  but does specify specialisms in IT programming, IT networking, TV and Media, Graphic Design, Music, Web Design, Accountancy, Public Sector and Charities. Apparently Ofsted gave the programme a grade 2 in August 2007 and it has success rate of 60-80%.

Maybe not so bad…

July 1, 2009

I feel kinda small at the moment. Here I was, blogging away, about the faults of the Job Centre Plus. Then, this afternoon, my personal adviser called me to let me know about a vacancy that has come up which he thinks I might be interested in. It was. He has referred me to the recruiter and I have an initial screening tomorrow.