How the Job Centre Can help you find employment
So you are need to find a new job, and are scoring the internet, newspapers, and anywhere else you can think of looking for adverts. There are lots of resources out there, but the jobs market is crowded and competitive.
Well if you are unemployed and returning to work after a period of leave, the first place you should looking to try and find the right vacancy for you, is the Jobcentre Plus. Because these days, they offer more than a few noticeboards with some menial, minimum wage positions to be filled.
Today Jobcentre Plus offer a whole range of resources and expertise to help you ensure you have the right skills and experience to secure a job, as well as helping you with your search for a job, making applications, and succeeding in an interview.
We have all the UK’s job centres listed out in our JobCentre Online site section.
The very first point of call in anyone’s contact with Jobcentre Plus, is your adviser. Now it is easy for jobseekers to be wary of their adviser. A lot of people are suspicious of their motives, and look upon them as Government agents looking for any reason to stop your benefits.
The reality is that the overwhelming majority are anything but, and in actually fact are one of your best resources. These days they are more than just administrators, they are careers experts, with considerable expertise of the jobs market, of what skills and experience are needed for different jobs, and of what resources Jobcentre Plus has at its disposal that can help you. Use them well, and built a good relationship with them.
Be honest with them at the start about what knowledge, skills, and experience you have, what jobs you want to apply for, and how confident you are about the process. They can help you to target realistic vacancies, improve your ability to make successful applications, and fill any gaps in your skillset. They can also recommend you for specific jobs, and suggest vacancies to you. Many have also been known to go beyond the call of duty to help a jobseeker they particularly get on with. So it is well worth staying in their good books. If you are genuinely determined to get back into work, they will help you to make it happen.
So what resources do they have at their disposal?
Training and Work Placements Schemes
There are a number of programmes which your Jobcentre Plus adviser can put you forward for which can help you to prepare for work, build your skills and work experience, find work, and stay in work. Some are compulsory if you are claiming benefits and your adviser thinks they will benefit you. Others are voluntary.
Again building a good relationship with your adviser will help to ensure that he is putting you forward for the best programmes for you:
- Work Programme: The Work Programme is a government scheme which provides a tailored mix of training, work placements, and support, for up to two years.
To be eligible you will need to have been on Jobseekers Allowance for three months or more or be on Employment and Support Allowance and in the Work Related Activity Group. You can volunteer to go take part, but your adviser can require you to as well.
You will be invited to attend an assessment interview with a trained assessor, and he will then work on your behalf to find the appropriate training course, work experience placement, or job vacancy to suit your needs.
The Work Programme is run by a range of private and public sector companies outside the Jobcentre Plus system, and has had some criticism in the media. But the results it has delivered for users have been impressive and if your adviser recommends the scheme, it is well worth having a go at.
- Supervised Job Search Pilot Scheme - This is a new Jobcentre Plus initiative, and as a pilot scheme, is currently only available in certain parts of the country. But if you live in one of the following areas, it is well worth looking into:
- East Anglia
- The Black Country
- West Yorkshire
It is being made available as an alternative to the Work Programme for those who are not taking effective enough steps to find a job.
Those who take part will spend up to 35 hours a week in environment doing a mixture of training, job search skills development, and interview practice.
- Skills Conditionality: This is an opportunity for jobseekers to improve their skills. After an initial assessment, you will be offered training by an appropriate college or training provider, to improve your ability to secure a job in a chosen sector or industry. If you are referred by your adviser, then participation is mandatory, but it should also be looked upon as an excellent opportunity to enhance your skills with a specific focus on the job you want to do.
- Traineeships: These are government funded courses which offer you either training, tuition in the key skills of English and Maths, or a work experience placement. Traineeships are only available to jobseekers aged between 16 and 24 years of age and whilst they are voluntary, some aspects of them can be made mandatory if you refuse to take part. Again for young jobseekers, a traineeship offers an excellent and affordable opportunity to enhance your CV with new skills and vocational experience.
- Youth Contract: If you are aged between 18 and 24, you are also entitled to extra help under the Youth Contract. This scheme includes additional help for young jobseekers including access to extra careers guidance, apprenticeships, and work experience placements.
- Work Academies: For certain types of professions, the Jobcentre Plus can refer you on to a Work Academy. This initiative will usually consist of opportunities such as:
- pre-employment training
- in some cases, the possibility of achieving units towards a qualification
- a work experience placement
- a guaranteed job interview.
Availability is dependent on a recommendation from your adviser and Academies do vary from area to area depending on which local employers and colleges are taking part. These are voluntary, although once you agree participation becomes mandatory, and available to anyone on Jobseekers Allowance aged 18 and above, or anyone on Employment and Support Allowance.
- Work Clubs: Anyone who is unemployed is entitled to join a local Work Club. These are run by different local organisations, usually either employers or community groups, and offer you the chance to share tips and advice with fellow jobseekers as well as getting more help from experts. Your Jobcentre Plus adviser can help you find a local Work Club, or otherwise you can visit www.nationalworkclubs.net.
Universal Jobsmatch is the Governments own official jobs board which at any one times lists tens of thousands of employment opportunities for jobseekers. If you are claiming Jobseekers Allowance, then registering on the site is obligatory, but don’t just go through the motions to ensure your benefits aren’t sanctioned, because it is definitely a resource worth persisting with. It offers a range of services including:
- search for jobs
- create and upload your CV
- get email alerts about jobs
- apply for jobs online
- keeps a record of your job search activity.
It was built and operated by Monster, one of the world’s leading jobs board companies, and although it has had some criticism, stills offers much of what commercial jobs boards do, with additional services and advantages of being liked into the Jobcentre Plus system. This includes allowing your adviser to see your searches, as you are required to use this service to retain your benefits, and access to some vacancies which are only available through Jobcentre Plus.
Universal Jobsmatch can be accessed both online at www.gov.uk/jobsearch and in Jobcentre Plus sites through various touchscreen units. Don’t forget we have a job search on UK Jobs Guide with over 500,000 jobs regularly listed.
So you have applied for a job, passed the interview, and been offered the role. But perhaps you aren’t absolutely sure it is the right job for you. Well, for certain roles with certain employers, you can undertake a work trial. This will usually only last a few days and will allow both you and your potential employer to be sure that you are right for the role.
The employer has to have a work trial agreement with Jobcentre Plus, and you must have been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for six months or more in most cases. Some people claiming other benefits are also eligible including:
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Severe Disability Allowance
- Carer's Allowance
- Bereavement Benefit
- Pension Credit.
If this appeals to you, then you should discuss the possibility with your Jobcentre Plus adviser, but be aware that the scheme works both ways and the employer can also decide against hiring you off the back of the trial, even if you want to take the role.
It might seems as if entrepreneurial types wouldn’t look to the Jobcentre Plus for help, but they do actually sometimes advertise self-employment opportunities.
They can also offer information on setting up a business or taking on a franchise and refer you to a local Enterprise Club. These are usually run by local businesses and offer a range of advice on support for unemployed people who want to go it alone.
There is also the possibility of getting help to secure finding through such schemes as the New Enterprise Allowance.
To progress with a self-employment opportunity, it is usually advantageous to be on good terms with your adviser. It is generally seen as an employment route only for the most motivated and committed and your adviser will need to have faith in your abilities and commitment to really help you progress down this route.
Disabled Jobseeker Advice
If you are disabled and looking for work, then each Jobcentre Plus has a dedicated Disability Employment Adviser available to offer you specialist advice and guidance on secure work, retaining, work, and help with the Access to Work scheme.
Access to Work is a dedicated programme which offers practical advice and support to disabled jobseekers as well as access to grants to cover any additional costs there may be to you or your employer in hiring you.
How to contact Jobcentre Plus
If you need to contact Jobcentre Plus for help in your search for a job, you can visit your local branch or call one of the following numbers on weekdays between 8am and 6pm:
Telephone: 0845 606 0234
Telephone (Welsh): 0845 606 7890
Textphone: 0845 605 5255
For address details, and how to get their find your local job centre on our directory of job centres.
- For help in Claiming Jobseekers Allowance read our guide.
- For more information about Jobcentre Plus, including where your local office is, and how to contact it directly, go to the Government website.
- The government-funded National Careers Service also offer a range of resources for those search for a job.