So if you’ve known me for any length of time you’’ll know my eclectic bunch of skills have seen me go through various periods of unemployment. If you’ve known me on Twitter for at least the last two weeks you may have also have seen me bitching about the new Jobseekers Plus ‘Fast Track to Employment’ course i’m on. Just imagine League of Gentleman’s ‘Job Club’ skit with more attractive staff and without the ever present fug of cigarette smoke and you’re in the right signing booth. Eos (née Fourstar, owned by Staffline) really pulling out all the training manual 101 cliche’s all the way.
I don’t have a problem with the idea behind these schemes, what i do have a problem with is the content, or in this case the lack thereof. We weren’t school leavers or new to the Job market so why we were given pointless hand out* after pointless flip chart presentation of stuff most sane minded would refer to as ’the bleedin’ obvious’?. Why? because it was pretty clear the staff (through no fault of their own) were floundering for things to fill out the two weeks they were contracted to deliver the course for.
The location?, oh the location dear readers was on the edge of an industrial estate right under Birmingham Airport’s flightpath. Nowhere to go in the breaks except hang around the barb wired fenced car park/recreation area dejectedly smoking fags in huddled groups watching the work experience security escorting newcomers around the site. Squint, imagine a few bench presses and you’d be transported to some American Prison yard hoping the tedium would be broken by either someone going postal or a steward getting shanked. Many demographics present, but one constant muttering of the waste of time they’d been submitted to to make the Government's ‘back to work’ policy look feasible. The whole encounter cuts deep into your self esteem which ironically is that which they’re supposed to be giving you back.
And pity the poor bastards (which may soon be me) on the unpaid Mandatory Four week ‘Work Related Activity’, note the word ‘Activity’ and not ‘Experience’, surely a basic admission packing screws for a month was just playing at having a job for a short while. The fact that many people were signing up to any random one of the slots available just to ‘get it out the way’ speaks volumes.
Was it all bad? well to be fair the trainers were always helpful,upbeat and pleasant despite some being on shaky short term contracts themselves. The CV stuff was actually useful for people without them and a refresher for people with. Signing people up to use e-mail services and teaching them basic I.T skills is never a bad thing. Some encouragement to register with Jobsites** was useful as was the availability of the many resources. The 'mock presentation' with feedback reminded me i sometimes talk to bleedin quick and the bit on employment law was an eye opener. However all of this could have been covered in one week or less.
So Eos, to do, URGENT...
- Efficient delivery of content.
- Engaging worthwhile content (elsewise it's pointless).
- Worthwhile training, worthwhile certificates at end, not using people as cheap labour.
- Cheerier environment.
- On FTTE, 3 hours Job searching every consecutive day for 2 weeks is fucking pointless and you know it! split it up.
Fast Track 101
Just in case you find yourself lumped on one of these courses here's some tips...
- Don't Panic!, the two weeks do go quickly.
- Unless you have a cast iron excuse don't miss days, they'll just sanction you and make you retake it all.
- The 'mock interviews' are absolutely nothing to get worked up about (remember there's no actual job at stake).
- Use and abuse the facilities, that's what they're there for.
- (at Garretts Green) The canteen is very cheap, don't wander up to that burger wagon on the corner.
- Never forget that you're a lot more than just a 'Potential employee'.
Anyway onwards and upwards
* (My favourite being Twenty minutes assertaining whether we were Visual, Audio, or Kinaesthetic learners (the VAK test), the punchline being that there is little to no scientific support for this type of psychobabble, may as well as judged us by our star signs. Even if it were valid, five minutes later it was all forgotten about while we moved on to making a list of famous people !!!??.)
**(Update 13/05/13) I very quickly realised that most of these jobsites draw their vacancies from the same pool so it's easy to accidentally apply for the same job two or three times if you're not careful. Not great if you have 'attention to detail' written in your CV.