What is the Government Doing about Unemployment?
August 19, 2012
The Fresh Outlook
The Fresh Outlook examines the opinions of unemployed individuals and people who are a part of the solution to joblessness.
The Office for National Statistics’ latest report suggests a fall in unemployment of 65,000 people, meaning the official total is now 2.58 million, with 1.6 million people still claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). This figured has increased by 6,100 compared to the last quarter, which could point to the fact that more people are actively seeking work.
To be officially classed as unemployed you must not only be out of work, but actively seeking employment with the ability to start within two weeks. The process for registering as unemployed and accessing help from the government is relatively simple. To be eligible to claim JSA you must be over 18 years old and meet certain criteria; to find this out you can simply call Jobcentre Plus or apply online. If your application is successful you will be asked to attend interviews with a personal advisor once a fortnight, ensuring to bring along evidence that you have been searching and applying for jobs. A job centre advisor will then advise you on finding work and inform you about any extra help available to you.
There are some alternatives to seeking employment advice from the Government including Common Purpose, a registered UK charity, who run a course called Young Million. The organisation’s Chief Executive, Adirupa Sengupta spoke to The Fresh Outlook, she said: “Our Young Million campaign is about giving young people an opportunity to learn practical ways of developing themselves as leaders. In the process, we hope we inspire them, surprise them and enable them to network with potential employers.”
Katie Bielby, a Biological Sciences and Business graduate from the University of Sheffield Hallam, recently undertook the Young Million programme. After graduating in 2011 she has been unemployed and receiving help from her local job centre. She feels that the role of the job centre is to get you into a job and not a career. For instance, there have been times when she has been advised to apply for roles were she was rejected for being over-qualified.
Eventually she was directed by her advisor at the job centre to join a Young Million course in her area. She readily accepted because she wanted to work alongside people her age, whereas on other skills based courses the job centre had enlisted her in her peers were a lot older and not in a similar situation.
Katie felt that her time with Young Million was wholly positive; she had the opportunity to meet local employers and undertake specialised sessions regarding desirable job skills. She met a number of unemployed young people with all kinds of employment backgrounds, she said: “There were graduates like me, people with absolutely loads of work experience and some with none at all.” Overall she feels her confidence as a job candidate has improved and that the experience stopped her from feeling isolated about her situation. Now Katie is still receiving JSA, still sometimes works at the charity shop and has just completed work experience with Boots.
In Katie’s opinion the biggest problem facing unemployed people her age is a lack of work experience. She said: “We can’t get experience if they don’t employ us but people won’t employ us because we don’t have the experience”. She would like the government to give incentives to companies who employ people between the ages of 18-24, especially those without a lot of work experience.
In contrast David Watts, a retired Chief Engineer for the Royal Navy, is 60 years old and has never had the opportunity to undertaken any training programmes after leaving the armed services, let alone one as beneficial as Young Million. Unlike Katie, David left secondary school with no formal qualifications and was educated whilst enrolled in the navy. After 38 years of service with the Royal Navy David has been unemployed and actively seeking work for over two years.
At present he does not receive any government help whatsoever. This means that he does not receive JSA or even guidance on finding employment from the advisors at his local job centre; this is because he receives a service pension from the Navy. David feels he has been badly treated as an ex serviceman and that the guidance the navy gave him about civilian life was completely inadequate. He is eager to work but feels employers do not want to employ him because of his age – he never puts his date of birth on job applications. Overall, his impression of the work done at the job centre is negative: “They’re not trying to help you really. I think the people at the job centre are more concerned about their own jobs than giving someone else a job.”
Katie and David both display scepticism toward the service the Job Centre provides, with the opinion that the government views them more as a statistic to be dealt with, rather than an individual human being searching for their ideal career. But is there time and are there enough resources for ensuring that job-seekers find that dream job? The Fresh Outlook spoke directly with a Welsh Government Spokesman for more information.
“The latest job statistics are clearly disappointing and show people and businesses across Wales are continuing to face real challenges as a result of the double-dip recession in the UK economy.”
He continued: “Young people and women are being hit particularly hard and the economy is shrinking at a faster rate than we first feared, and this needs to be addressed for the jobs market to pick up.”
He assured us that the government is doing its upmost in the fight against unemployment with schemes like Jobs Growth Wales that aim to create 12,000 jobs for 18-24 year olds over the next three years.
As much as the government should assist its citizens with finding employment, there are some things only the individual can do. At a time when jobs are so few and far between, relying on someone else entirely to help you find a job is simply not a viable option. One great tip for finding work is to use your initiative wisely – don’t wait for jobs to be advertised! Some 80% of vacancies are not publicised and those that are can receive hundreds of applications at a time. Sending your CV to companies you would like to work for is a way of avoiding the competition. Be different, be bold and stand out from the crowd.
The road into employment can be a tough path to stick to, with constant knock-backs, unsatisfactory job prospects and an exceedingly unhealthy job market – it’s easy for a jobless person to begin to feel rather hopeless. It can be an extremely isolating experience, so it is important to remember that if you are unemployed at the moment, you are not the only one.
By Laura Barton
[Image courtesy of Oxyman]