Poor-quality employment services hold jobseekers back

Thu, 26/03/2015 - 17:55 -- nick

This blog was written by an anonymous unemployed man who has been around the various services for a while. He accuses jobcentres of using sanctions to force people into unsuitable provision, and believes some of them are of such low quality as to be useless in moving the workless into work, with one organisation coming in for particular criticism.

'REMPLOY is synonymous for working with people with disabilities. We know because the positive spin on their tagline is “Putting ability first”, followed by “Providing career opportunities for people with disabilities.

However, Remploy are not trained to work with people who do not fit the required remit or criteria the agency prefers. 

From my experience of Remploy, most of the jobs they offer are for domestic duties, shelf stacking or low skilled manual jobs.  I knew I would have to attend a Work Programme, but expected to be signposted to a place which would be more suited to my skills, previous career choice, similar to the line of work I had been doing in Social Care.

But I did not expect the Jobcentre Advisor to look at my CV, run through a list of Work Programme providers and randomly pick one for me without discussing other options. I asked if I could be referred to another provider which would be more suited to my career choice, experiences and academic qualifications but was refused. In this instance, the Advisor held autonomy and dictated the one option. I feared that if I refused, my benefits would be stopped and I would be sanctioned.

So, I reluctantly agreed. There was no point in highlighting the information provided by the DWP that the JCA was there to “support and encourage the (benefit) claimant to seek employment or training opportunities which would match their skills”. I feel the JCAs are a law unto themselves.

At Remploy itself, I was provided with an initial assessment to screen my needs. Again, I reiterated that I felt I was misplaced. They had to admit that they hadn’t had anyone with my background walk through their doors before and neither were they equipped with offering work or employment opportunities within a care setting.

Is there anything else you would like to consider in terms of jobs? I couldn’t think as all I had known for a good number of years was supporting vulnerable adults within Social Care. I tried to turn my predicament on its head and enquired if they had any paid or unpaid vacancies. Unfortunately they hadn’t but later, I found that they had recruited a young person who happened to be a friend of one of the employees and other staff shared their own insecurities about the possibility of losing their own jobs due to structural changes and cutbacks. 

So… back to the original question asked: Would I consider a change in career? I said I enjoyed baking as a way of coping with several losses in my life and would consider becoming self-employed.  I hoped it would provide me with an opening to grants, funds or loans. Again, I was signposted to the Business Advisor, who took my details and said she would contact me in due course. We had several appointments, looking at my current employment prospects, financial situation, and the cost of items to be purchased if I was to pursue the idea of running my own baking business from home, and projected earnings. To be honest, I was a total novice in these business matters but was assured by the Advisor that she would complete a Business Plan on my behalf. When it did eventually arrive, 6 months after my initial meeting with her, it was sent via email and presented in Excel. In print, it was half a sheet of A4 paper.

It was then suggested that I apply for Working Tax Credit, which proved to be no mean feat as the Business Advisor encouraged me to practically lie and state to the DWP that I was working less than 30 hours a week in order to receive the WTC application form. The reality was that you had to be “in work” and classed as self-employed before you could even apply. I was neither and it created further anxiety.

Over a period of two years, I was signposted to several Advisors:

·         One asked for an electronic copy of my CV and literally cut and pasted it onto emails, which she sent out to various companies without providing a covering letter, any background information or allowing me to read the job/person spec.

·         The National Career Advisor used Google to find a college course which she thought would be suitable for me and suggested I contact the academic institutions. Again, background information was not provided. When I contacted the course providers I was informed that due to my age and the fact I had several “A” levels, I was not eligible to enrol onto the course. I was left in limbo and when I saw the Advisor again, she said she had only “signposted” me.

·         I was placed on a course to see if I would be suitable to work in a call centre dealing with car breakdown and maintenance even though I can’t drive and have no interest in cars whatsoever.    

After two years of high anxiety and sheer frustration with Remploy, it proved to me that they are not trained to work with people in an attempt to support or match them up with suitable jobs, but yet another exercise in how to achieve targets. For the amount of jobseekers on their books, each Advisor only manages to find employment for about 4 or 5 people, and with imminent cutbacks, it would only be a matter of time before Remploy staff find themselves either applying for lower paid jobs elsewhere or out of a job.'