A Distinct Lack of Employability Skills

Having been unemployed (in the paying sense – I keep busy!) for some time, the Jobcentre decided it was time I did another course. This one was billed as a wonder course that would unlock the secrets of getting a job, but it turned out to be NCFE Level 1 Employability Skills, which is exactly the same as such courses I’ve done before, only this time it seems I get a certificate at the end of it! Yippee! Of course, it’s of lower value than a GCSE, so to me it’s worth about as much as toilet paper, but perhaps somebody somewhere is delighted to receive it. Although I doubt it.

Okay, so we’re all there for the start time of nine o’clock. Except the tutor. She finally arrived, having travelled all the way from Brighton and been caught in a tailback due to an accident, twenty minutes later. Alright, you can’t help accidents, but it’s hardly an auspicious start to a course that includes a form asking us if we need help with things such as punctuality, and which is intended to instil in us a readiness for the world of work. We’re ready, but I’m not so sure about the tutor. Especially as she seems rather disorganised when she finally does arrive. There are folders we require to actually do any work for this course and they haven’t been brought to the classroom. She makes a call and they finally arrived forty minutes later. In the meantime, we’re put to work killing time by interviewing our neighbour – a task that is never referenced again and was clearly intended as filler until the folders arrived.

Right, an hour late, but we’re ready to start! Only, we’re not… First she has to check as there may be ‘two or three’ people who are on an IT course which has been relocated to a different site. Unfortunately, it turns out that the ‘two or three’ who hadn’t been notified are actually ‘six or seven’ in number and another five minutes are wasted confirming who is and isn’t meant to be at the other site and giving them directions. But, at last, we’re ready start – except we only manage to sign our names a couple of times before it’s time for a break at half past ten. A break from what?!

At last, we get down to something. Which turns out to be a literacy and numeracy test. How many times have I completed these because the quality of education in the UK is so bad that we cannot assume people can do simple things like read and write? Is it not possible for a box to be ticked somewhere so that the fact I can read, write and do math is recorded, saving not only my time and sanity, but copious amounts of paper, from being wasted on establishing the fact at regular intervals? Apparently not.

Then, more signing. Lots more signing. I’ve no idea what I’m signing. Possibly I’ve signed my soul away. By this point, I wouldn’t really care as, between signing things, I’m waiting for everyone else to finish signing so that we can sign something else, or hear a brief description of what we will be doing on the course. Mainly, it seems, that old favourite of telling us that the previous course was utterly wrong when they said the previous course said the course before was wrong about how they’d told us to layout our CV. By this point, I’m literally twiddling my thumbs and thinking of ways of killing myself as I rapidly lose the will to live. Just to make sure the day isn’t a complete waste of time, I read a copy of Fortean Times and then write some poetry. Unfortunately, that doesn’t even take me past the end of the lunch break. The only good news is that we won’t be going all the way till five. Phew!

The tutor is lacklustre and there are longueurs that stretch credibility – is anyone in the group really so inept at signing their name and putting the date that we must wait this long? Seriously? When she isn’t wittering on boringly, she mostly seems to be doing paperwork. I am not joking when I say that, out of the approximately five hours we sat in that room, if there was an hour of actual work, I’d be surprised. It’s not even as if it was anything worthwhile.

It is not merely that I have done this course at least half-a-dozen times before or that it is pitched waaaaay below my level, but that it is blandly taught and must seem boringly patronising to even the least capable people in the room. Today has been an utter waste of time and I’m holding little hope that any of the remaining eight days will be any better. (I can only be grateful that yesterday being a bank holiday saved me from having to sit through ten rather than nine days of tedium!)

The worst thing about this is that I could have been online doing jobsearch and potentially making actual progress towards finding a job instead of wasting my time. If the government wants to spend money on training, they should scrap this repetitive nonsense and fund some courses that would actually make us more employable. Somehow, I think the workers whose taxes are funding these things might prefer I was doing something to raise the odds of my coming off benefits rather than sitting around reading, writing poetry and twiddling my thumbs…

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