The Unemployment Game

At 28 would you consider me a young person?  According to the government I am middle-aged, well at least that is how they record me in unemployment figures.  The British Government consider a young person to be between the ages of 16-25.  So when you hear on the news about young people being out of work and young people needing employment job support they don’t mean me.  The government have now come up with schemes to help the vast number of young unemployed people to get help including government-funded apprenticeships.  These are a very good idea and will help young people to get experience, qualifications and  references for their CV s.  However I am getting tired of seeing perfectly good jobs that I could do being advertised as apprenticeships under this scheme, as being over 25 I can’t apply.  Also some of the jobs I see as apprenticeships are clearly being used as a way for businesses to get free labour paid for by the government, I mean who needs to go to college once a week and apprentice as a shop assistant or as an office junior.  None of these jobs are at management level or even supervisor level and yes having done retail work myself I know it takes some skill in money handling and customer service, but it is not a skill like say hairdressing or car mechanics.  I also note an apprentice in their first year gets paid less than normal minimum wage, £2.68 an hour is hardly going to cover most people transport costs let alone give them any money left to spend after.  After the first year they are paid national minimum wage for their age, however a lot of apprenticeships don’t last more than a year.

I am not ashamed to say I am in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance benefit, it is something I have to do to survive and I am genuinely trying to get paid work.  However the things you have to do to get it are starting to become more and more ludicrous.  For example you have to use the government’s own job search website, Universal Jobmatch at least a few times a week as well as other sites and log into it so they can monitor your job searching.  At first this seamed reasonable, they want to check you are actively looking for work.  However the jobs on this site are a bit of a joke.  Within 20 miles of my home town today 18 new jobs were posted, out of those 1 was an apprenticeship, 10 were recruitment agencies who mostly advertise elsewhere as well, at least 2 of them were the same jobs I saw earlier this week and there was the daily Avon job.  Avon reps hardly make the kind of money you can live off, even the TV advert calls it a nice little wage top up, pin-money so to speak.  Not to mention the number of self-employment jobs where you still end up having a boss, but no employment rights.  Then there is the jobs that do not even say who the company are advertising the job, they say company confidential, but I suspect they are either recruitment agencies or not proper jobs at all.  Last week I saw a report on Channel Four News about the number of fake or reposted jobs advertised on Universal Jobmatch.  According to Channel Four more than one in five adverts on the site are copies, which was something I was starting to suspect already.

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Then there is the whole long-term job seekers thing.  If you sign on for more than 6 months you have to go to privately run extra support places at least once a fortnight as well as sign on.  My nearest provider is a place called Working Links, which are a national chain of offices designed to help people find work.  However I have been with them nearly two years and the only job they ever found for me was in a yoghurt factory standing for 12 hours a day which I had to turn down due too not being able to stand for more than about 6 hours a day with my hip issues which had already told Working Links about before.  If you manage to get a job your Working Links advisor gets paid a bonus.  I did manage to get a three-month Christmas temp job last year so my advisor got a bonus, but actually she never helped me get the job at all, I found the job and never even had an appointment with her in time before I had the interview.  I thought yay I had a job I wont have to see them again for at least 6 months, but I was so wrong, if you have been with them within the last 6 months then you automatically go back to them when you re-sign on.  I would not mind so much if they were in my own town as it would not take very long, but the offices are in the next town and it takes me about 30-40 minuets on the bus.  They do pay my bus fare, but it is more the time I am wasting.  A previous advisor I had till I complained, just used to stick me on a computer for an hour to job search.  As if I could not and was not already doing that at home, how is a different computer in a different place supposed to magically produce new jobs?  Also if there were no jobs to apply for that day it was hard to know how to fill the hour.  To be fair my new advisor now is more friendly and we get along quite well, but I am still not getting much actual help from her.

Now I am told I have a very good CV.  I have not mentioned anything about my disabilities on it.  Firstly I can not think of any adjustments an employer would need to make for me if I got an interview or a job.  Secondly I don’t know if I want a job just to fill a quoter, I would rather get the job on my own merits because they want to hire me for my skills and personality.  However I do wonder if in some interviews, especially group interviews with team tasks and so on, if my mild Autism or learning issues might make me come across as a bit strange and if the employer knew about my mental issues would it change how they assessed me?  If asked I am always honest about any disability issues.  They often ask why I have been out of work so long and one reason was major hip surgery.  However I do like to make it clear I can now do more because of my false hip and not less.

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