The Work Programme Doesn’t Work!

Still looking for work, I’ve been shunted sideways to yet another provider for an ‘intensive’ jobsearch experience. Of course, when I arrived at the induction, neither I nor anyone else in attendance actually had a clue of why we were there, what we would be doing or for how long; it never seems to cross anyone’s mind to mention those little details as we’re merely pawns to be shifted around until we find a job or are thrown out the system as failures. I’m still no clearer as to how what we will be doing will be any different to what I was doing down the road.

Indeed, the internet connection is, if anything, even slower and today’s meeting was cancelled because the system had crashed (hence my opportunity to slip on here and update this blog). It’s ridiculous – I can make far more progress here, at home on this not-terribly-good computer over a mediocre connection. It’s an insult to people in my position to have to take time out from genuine jobsearch to sit at rubbish computers twiddling our thumbs and I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t have computer access as they are still way behind all the better-placed jobseekers here.

Now, the Work Programme (computers aside) is probably excellent when catering to the sort of people it is geared up for – that is people with educational deficiencies and people who have a career in mind and lack the wherewithal to achieve it. The first thing that happened when I arrived at the new provider was that I had to complete the most laughable literacy and numeracy tests I’ve ever seen despite having completed (harder) such tests previously on my route through the system. So, no need for remedial maths and English to fill the time…

So, I’m asked what barriers are holding me back. The same barriers as ever – due to disability issues, I’m limited as to what work I can do and where, and having been out of work for some time (thanks to my last job coming to an end just as the economy tanked) lack the up-to-date experience to compete for those posts. I’m educated and trained for the sort of job I’m going for and I have no grand career plans to provide further options – a job’s a job, as far as I’m concerned. (Apparently, I’m just the sort of person local employers are looking for, according to an article in our local paper, yet that doesn’t seem to translate into actually getting a job.) If I harboured some desire to be an accountant, say, then they would doubtless be mapping my career path with relish, but as I ‘just’ want a job, it’s not that easy.

Which leads to the next question I was asked: What skills or training did I feel I need? Surely this is a question they should be answering after looking at my resume? If there is some gap in my abilities to do the sort of job I’m looking for, I’m unaware of it. Again, it would help if I had a specific career progression in mind as they could offer courses relevant to my desire – although, if they are anything like earlier stages in my time with the Job Centre and the Work Programme, they won’t have anything on offer except Forklift Driver courses. (I’m not joking; when I asked about a variety of tangentially-relevant courses that I didn’t really want to do but would have fulfilled their demands I do some training, I was told none were available and the only courses on the books were to drive forklifts!) Effectively, I’m at the point where what I’ve been doing to find work hasn’t been yielding many results of any kind and could do with some fresh input; unfortunately, nobody seems to have any better ideas.

In fact, a lack of better ideas is the story of my time on the Work Programme. Once you are doing everything ‘right’ (insofar as the Programme deems it), there is little more to offer. So, if you’re an absolute hopeless case, you may well benefit greatly; but if you are there or nearly so, you won’t. Banging your head against a brick wall might eventually bring it down given sufficient time, but it is hardly the efficient way of doing it, and it would be useful to be given some different tools for the task. When I did have success (in landing my last job), it was because my advisers were determined to pull out all the stops and get me into work, making use of their contacts and their knowledge of schemes and processes to help me, not sitting back and hoping that my hard work would pay off unassisted. If only there was more such help on offer…

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