Monday 25 October 2010

Job Hunting in the Big Society

This post comes courtesy of Elaine O'Neill, or Scattermoon as she's known on Twitter. Here she writes about the utterly ludicrous situation she finds herself in where the powers that be are trying to *keep* her on the dole because of some bureaucratic nonsense. As anyone who's had the displeasure of claiming Jobseekers' Allowance will tell you, the system is overly complex and it's almost as if it was purposely designed to be a maddening as possible. The blame for Elaine's situation cannot be laid at the Coalition's door (though they're set to make it worse), but responsibility for it lies with all governments over the last 30 years who've worked systematically to stigmatise dole claimants. Elaine's original is here.

I've had major difficulty with the Coventry Job Centre in the past two months, mostly due to the fact they are preventing me from taking a job and keeping me on the dole as a result.

I graduated in 2009 with a First Class Honours degree in German & History from Royal Holloway in Surrey, and then went on a six week internship with the major German newspaper 'Süddeutsche Zeitung'. Since then, however, I have difficulties getting employment. Part of the problem was that I was living at my parents' in Nottingham, and for various reasons, I could not stay in Nottingham. Looking for a position out of Nottingham whilst living there led to me getting several interviews, however I got rejected for various reasons - Lidl UK's head office in Wimbledon regarded me as 'overqualified' for an admin position involing fluent German, whilst Adfero in Manchester took me through to the final stage of interviews before rejecting me based off something from my CV - namely that I had only worked professionally before in Germany, so I would not be able to work in an English environment (as a native Brit, I find this ludicrous!). Most rejections were based off my lack of experience in even the lowliest admin roles, and believing that someone with a degree like mine could easily find work elsewhere - which hasn't been the case. In July, I finally moved to Coventry to change my living situation and enable me to look for jobs locally as well as further afield.

In August, I applied for a job position at a specialist café and mail order business in London, and got asked for an interview in early September. They were very impressed with me, and rather than the admin role I had originally had in mind, they wanted to offer me the position of HR manager. However, the job was offered under the Future Jobs Fund scheme, for which I should have been eligible. Coventry Cofa Court decdied I was not. They gave several reasons for this - their belief that they'd need to find my travel to London two days a week (as I'd not be working 9-5, this would not have been an issue), them believing the London job didn't actually exist, and that it was all Nottingham Job Centre's fault, as they should have offered me Future Jobs Fund but didn't (this would be because my advisor in Nottingham was ill throughout June and July and I never actually saw him). The café in London and the London job centre they had arranged the positions with both believed I should be eligible, but communications between those parties and Sarina Russo Job Access in Coventry, whom I had been put on a 13-week 'training' course with, were unable to change Cofa Court's mind, and as of Tuesday 26th October, I'll have lost the chance to get the career-progressing job that both myself and the London café would benefit from.

Sarina Russo Job Access have furthermore complained to Cofa Court that me being there is a waste of both my time and theirs. They usually deal with the sort of people who either won't find work (the sort who happily declare they have 'cash-in-hand' jobs and will just stay on benefits as a little extra) and those who can't find work (due to their English skills, or not knowing how to make a CV). SRJA have said my CV, qualifications and even experience outclasses that of many of those who work there, so there is indeed little they can do for me. I am on a placement managed by SRJA at a sports centre in the Coventry area, but there too, I am not being 'trained' so much as doing the majority of the database and website work for the team, as they don't know how to do it as well as I do.

And I'm being prevented from getting a job at the same time as Osbourne's cuts are wreaking havoc on the welfare system. How am I meant to feel when the politicians rant about those on benefits who need to be pushed into getting a job, when the system they manage is actually preventing me from getting one?

1 comment:

April said...

Hi - Do we know if Elaine resolved this situation and has now found a job? Thanks.