The Dalai Lama recently told the press that Tibet under the rule of China was a “living hell”, now while I can sympathise with the Tibetan people, I believe that hell is not soley confined to oppressive regimes, it is much closer than you think… just ask anyone who has had to visit the Job Centre Plus office since the beginning of the downturn…
Step into today’s Job Centre and you will be in for a real shock…
For those of you forunate to have a job in these depressed times the thought of what the Job Centre is will probably conjure up images of the past e.g. people staring at want ads stuck to notice boards, scribbling down numbers and going to see an adviser etc etc. Back then the Job Centre was a separate entity from your local benefits office which was where you went to sign on. For many of the long-term unemployed the Job Centre was simply bypassed once you had given the officials your autograph.
Step into today’s Job Centre and you will be in for a real shock… Security guards patrol the inside of the building while “greeters” direct you toward the “reception” where you leave your claim book and then proceed to mill around with all the other “happy” customers (there’s quite a lot of them these days!) waiting to access the latest jobs on their electronic terminals. You discover that virtually all furniture is screwed to the floor (you’ll soon find out why…). After being demoralised by the lack of any suitable jobs your name is called out, and you are directed to a desk with an adviser. The conversation then goes something like this…
“Can you confirm that you are looking for/and are available to work?”
Now what kind of a stupid question is this… I mean as if you were going to say something like “well no I think I’ll just sit on my arse and let you pay me”
“Where have you been looking for jobs?”
Well where do *you* look for a job, exactly the same way everyone else does in the digital age, online job boards, TV, newspapers (most of them have online versions thesedays so it’s easy), and the Internet.
“You need to speak with another adviser about that as this week is about your job search…” (in response to a benefits question).
Now *this* really gets my goat, why should I have to wait a week to ask a simple question when I am here infront of you *now*. Go figure!
And that’s just a sample of the kinds of things you get to hear!
If you think that’s bad just wait until you have your 13 week review. You will discover a completely new meaning to term “pointless waste of time…”. This is where you will meet with an adviser and they will “go through the motions” telling you what you already know and how it will affect you benefits if you fail to adhere to the new Jobseekers agreement you’ve just signed. The meeting will finish off with a statement that after your second review you are obliged to take *any* minimum wage job you can.
There’s just one problem with this… and that is assuming you can actually get an interview. With the number of candidates for jobs in the region of 100 to 1 and upwards you’ve got more chance of picking this weeks six lucky draw numbers (at least then you wouldn’t have to visit the Job Centre at all).
And if you are lucky enough to get an interview, when they find out what you used to earn previously (propbably more than them) things may just begin to slip away from you. Let’s be realistic here for a moment, we all know that employers want to employ people as cheaply as they can… but at the same time they are mindful that if a person who used to earn an above average salary is offered a minimum wage job the hiring manager will be thinking “he/she won’t be happy working for this much so they’ll leave at the first opportunity… I’d better pass on them and give the job to someone less ambitious…”.
So spare a thought for those of us who are living “under the gun” at the local Job Centre and pray you never have to experience the “living hell”.