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Ladies and gentlemen...

Ladies and gentlemen...

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mike, seagull
....boys and girls, children of all ages...I have an announcement.  Not one of those rubbish announcements either like Wii Motionplus, no, no, no.  A proper announcement, one with vim, vigour, and vitality.  Something new and fresh and blah blah blah.  I've got the gift of the gab, what can I say, but that stuff is boring me to tears as well.

I have a job.

There, I said it.  It still sounds awesome.  After a year of bumming around, trying to get help training, looking for things to do I got a job...and one that matched the criteria I set out when I began my search.  I am a newly minted ICT Support Assitant as part of the E-Services Team of Wolverhampton City Council.  That means I get to go round fixing computers, installing them, giving help and advice, rolling out new technologies, everything you can think of that schools need.  As a bonus I get my ego stroked, I'm not working for a company, I'm working for schools, I'm working to help people, and that's what I want to do in life.  Yeah, sure, go on, have a good laugh, but I'm serious.  I think there's a lot of respect for public service that has been lost by people down the years...now I admit that this isn't me becoming a fireman, policeman, soldier etc. but it is me helping the world to be a better place in any way that I can.  I actually feel sliiiiightly ridiculous saying that, but there it is.

Anyway, the interview must have gone well, although one of the questions made it very clear to me that I need to brush up on the data protection act (got caught short there) and find some way of tracking new IT developments for schools as one of the ideas I suggested as coming "in the next few years" was actually a programme they've been rolling out across Wolverhampton for the last 12 months.

Still, I have a job.

And it was no thanks to the jobcentre.

I feel fully vindicated in complaining now because it was me getting off my own ass and putting the hours in that got me this job.  It was me giving up 60 hours of my life to training ON TOP of what the jobcentre wanted me to do (even taking sick days from their programmes to do it) that got me this job.  For six months they denied me access to training for no reason other than they "don't offer training before six months of unemployment".  What kind of screwed up system is that?  Someone is unemployed, wants to retrain, you give them that opportunity, you don't just make them sit on their ass for six months doing naff all.  I was given no information on how to get funding for training, where to train, nothing.  The assumption was simply made that I wanted to stay at home for six months plotting how I'd work the system.

So for six months I tried to find opportunities to train, and got one, I've done 3/4 of my MCSA content, and 1/4 of the exams.  No thanks to the Jobcentre.  Then at six months they sent me for "Retraining".  I was sent to a building in Walsall with other long-term uneployed for two weeks.  We were given access to First Aid and Health and Safety courses.....that weren't ever done.  The rest of our training was more than somewhat pointless....now I need to step in here and say that Lee and Steff who did the teaching were very nice people, and did their best to teach what they were told to, but you can't polish a turd.  Lessons on bullying in the workplace?  Equal Opportunities?  I mean come on.  People were asking about how to get qualifications for building, security guarding, whatever and we were told "oh, sorry, we don't offer things like that".  This is why the new deal is a sham.  Pointless hours of killing people's ambitions until they say they want to work in retail and get shuffled off to bar work.  All so someone can quote statistics saying that there has been a marked improvement in the unemployment figures through retraining.

But hold on, we're not done yet.  After the two week course we had "intensive jobsearch" which means going to a medium sized, oven-like room 2 days a week, for 4 hours each.  What did we do here?  Well, most people sat and watched youtube, read the paper, had a coffee, then went home.  I'd have gone stir-crazy, I applied for every job I could find because it was just wasting my time otherwise.  The TARGET, ladies and gentlemen, for this place was 2 jobs written for a week, and 2 phoned for.  That's 4 jobs a week you had to apply for in 8 HOURS sat at a PC.  I was applying for in excess of 20 per session.  Other people I saw applied for none, ever.  Another case of an outside company being paid to deliver mediocrity by the bucketload.

We're still not done, though, no.  After 8 weeks of this pointless endeavour I was signed up for a move. a 6 month full time course in Office Admin with another outside company.  Again, offering none of the training I needed (MCSA/ITIL...heck....Cisco would have been nice), and instead offering a general programme to get me "back into the office environment".  They would do this by doing things like sending me on unpaid sojourns into local companies for a couple of weeks to work as an "office assistant" and using that experience to build my confidence.

And this is why I laugh when David Cameron suggests we make the unemployed 1. work for their dole money at the six month stage, and 2. Involve outside companies.  The unemployed ARE already forced to work for their dole money, often in very unpleasant circumstances, and the unemployed are already failed by outside companies.  I've seen the unemployed, ladies and gentlemen, yes there are genuine dole dossers who just want to stay on the dole and feed the wife and their 12 million kids in their council house.  I feel justified in saying that because in my 12 weeks with Biscom I saw them, about 1 in 4 people fitted that description.  All of them useless layabouts who rightly SHOULD be cut off by the state because they leech on the hard work of others.  Then there were those who are too old or too young to get a job.  The old have had a career, are in their mid fifties and have seen their industry whipped from under them, and that REALLY scares me...it's not just their job that is gone but their entire way of living.  Too old to retrain and still find a job, but not old enough to retire, stuck in this meaningless futile wasteland of unemployment for anything up to a decade.  Then there's the young...who have no experience, and cannot get it because everywhere NEEDS experience, or training, or both!

The sad fact is that anyone in employment, and under the illusion that something would be done to help them if they lost their job is wrong.  Thousands of people who could do useful work are denied training and assessment every day, and the companies the government trusts to do this are wasting money, PUBLIC money on failing schemes to put them back to work.  Every day hundreds of people sign off the dole for no reason other than they can't take the relentless "retraining" of these companies, and spend 13 weeks of their life below the poverty line before they are allowed to sign on again.  This is the price we pay for using private companies and the "lowest bidder" philosophy.  We are a rich nation and we allow some to go hungry, while others do nothing and are given all the benefits in the book.  Tell me that's fair, or right.

I know this started off as a happy post about me getting a job and ended up as some boring rant about the benefit system, but it's something that people NEED TO HEAR, because frankly before I was sent to these places I thought the new deal with its promises of retraining sounded like something great....and instead it turned out to be full of people whose only hope is that someone somewhere recognises just what a waste it is.
  • Congratulations

    Well done on finding a job. You can now enjoy the world of taxes, National Insurance, and student loan repayments.

    - Andy.
    • Re: Congratulations

      Oh, joy, board for my parents, AND loan repayments. A neverending FIELD of joy.

      Hopefully once I halve my money each week (one half to pay debts and create savings, the other to spend on paying board, and buying things) I'll actually have slightly more than the £45 I'm currently subsisting on....maybe.....
  • Congratulations

    See Mike,
    the laws of probability have finally paid off. Now you can exchange your benefit woes for office politics. I hope you enjoy your new job.

    Lots of luck

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