Job Centre: tools or techniques, but no jobs

Friday, December 4th, 2009 - career coaching, construction jobs, CV Writing, economics, Education, Employment, professionalism, recruitment, unemployment

Job Centre: tools or techniques, but no jobs


Since the start of the recession, and climbing unemployment figures, the focus of the media has been on two key economic issues:

  • How quickly are the unemployed numbers rising?
  • When will the economic recession end?

We know from past data and recessions, that the first won’t stop moving upwards or go flat until around 18months after the second occurs. The stock market leads the way out in a recession being the first indicator to turn, and as that started climbing from April 2009, we can assume the economy will be growing by that point. Hence why Labour are holding out for a May 2010 general election

However, none of the economic chat does much good for the unemployed. So as the data was still downwards, the media’s attention switched to the how we were living in these bad economic times, and hence how the governments infrastructure was coping. “Lets take a few trips down the Job Centre” was the call from the newsrooms, and the answer they found was – not good.

The first problem was that of shear volume: not enough careers advisor’s. So as tax receipts were down, HMRC have leant 10,000 staff to the Department of Work and Pensions. But the second problem has been within the system.

Job Centre: professional

Construction draughtsman professional David Hall was interviewed by BBC News. Made redundant when the engineering firm he worked for went out of business during the recession, he went to a Job Centre to help him find work:

They weren’t very clued up about what my role was. When I explained that I was draughtsman who does technical drawing using a computer, they said: ‘What exactly is that? What the hell is a grassman?’ They tried to find me a position in retail and sales and working in shops, which is not really me.

Hall comments in the video article that he has found it more useful regaining contacts from old positions, and making contact with specialist recruiters for finding work, over using Job Centres. In the video he can be seen surfing and using LinkedIn.

Personally, I think as a solution to solve the unemployment numbers in the current recession, Job Centres are in trouble:

  1. Job Centres, like many mass-production systems, are set up to cope with a volume through an “it works/best practise” process. You have to fit the system, it doesn’t fit to you. However, the diversity of what the word “work” means since the last recession has widened – in skills, in work patterns, in approaches
  2. Job Centres since the last recession have been focused on coping with a main volume of undereducated job seekers in the same unemployment blackspots. The schemes, systems and tools – and resultant measurement and staff targeting/bonus systems they have – are all scored around solving this problem. The recession has hit all across the education, geographic and economic barriers equally. hence finding motivation or gaining extra skills is not the problem with these new job seekers, and thus Job Centres do have the required solutions – or so far, the ability to adapt to them
  3. The professionals rightly believe that at some point, the economy will turn and their old opportunities will return. For many, that is true. But, the careers advisor at the Job Centre doesn’t want the professional job seeker sat on their books depressing their bonus – so they process them through the system: “what about being a sales person, or taking a training scheme” is a bonus orientated solution, not an answer

In the short term – in my estimation, at least until summer 2010 – I don’t believe that Job Centres will be an acceptable answer to professional job seekers. They have neither the systems, the vision or critically the jobs to satisfy professional job seekers needs. Until the economy turns and the government starts to create jobs through infrastructure investment, the required jobs simply won’t exist.

The simple answer for job centres therefore, is: when is the government going to invest in infrastructure? High speed rail, Severn barrage and a nuclear power station or ten would all turn the situation around pretty quickly.

In the mean time, professional job seekers have to seek better solutions: 1million people have still taken new jobs in the recession. If you want to know how, we would be happy to help you.

Good Luck!


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