Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Been There Done That

The Telegraph reports:

Job centre staff were unprepared for the hundreds of thousands of middle class workers who have lost their jobs in the recession, the Government has admitted.

A report published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found that centres were under-staffed, while new recruits lacked experience because they had not had enough training to deal with the unemployed.

It disclosed that job centre staff did not know enough to deal appropriately with middle class professionals who were newly out of work. It found they “lacked confidence in knowing who to offer services to”.

Well, firstly, let’s not forget which government has so recently been shutting job centres.

More personally, this gives me a sense of deja-vu. I have had the Job Centre experience in the past – in the early 90’s recession – when as a mere audit junior, made redundant, I found myself signing on. Even then, it seemed the Job Centre was less of a (state-run) employment agency and more of just a government office for handing out unemployment benefit. It felt as though the Job Centre was of a world of manual weekly paid work, and could do little for someone in any sort of “specialist” occupation, such as a trainee accountant, in the midst of professional exams.

I got the impression, perhaps unfairly, that the staff there were going through the motions – particularly when no interest was paid to my evidence, carefully documented, of my earnest job-seeking (isn’t it a condition of the benefit that you are making an effort?).

Twenty years’ on, and it seems things haven’t changed. If what this report says is right, then we are looking at a system that hasn’t really moved on from the model of the old-fashioned labour exchange – and that is letting down both the jobless and the staff.

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