As well as being baffled by Fleet St other things occasionally come along to make me wonder if there are some people in this world who sit in an office somewhere and work out how to make things harder for us mere mortals.
I am doing some work at The Pad in Paignton, two and a half days a weeks showing people how to use a computer. Now it is an urban myth that everyone under 25 can use a computer because a good proportion of those I help are under that age. Maybe they can tweet or network on Facebook but that isn’t all you can do on a computer. In the past I have like lots of people had periods where I have been out of work. The first time was back in the mid-sixties and I was one of 165 thousand, that’s right, 165 000 who were out of work. Basically the rules for getting the dole were the same, sign on and prove you have been looking for work. Back then you just went in, signed the bit of paper and when the guy behind the desk asked had you been looking for a job you would grunt and slowly nod your head. Money would then be handed over. I have to admit now, 49 years later that I wasn’t actually looking very hard. I had some money saved and it was a long hot summer and I knew when I needed to I would find a job no problem. That at least has changed.
What else that has changed is the looking for a job bit. Now when you sign on the government expect you to look for work and be able to prove you have been. So what happens now is you have to register on the DirectGov Job Seekers web site. This involves getting an email address and creating a CV. The CV is then downloaded to the DirectGov Job Seekers web site and when you apply for a job the CV is sent to the employer advertising the job you are, or maybe not interested in. Doing all this electronically saves hundreds of thousands of sheets of A4 paper that would have otherwise been produced by cutting down large chunks of the rain forest. Do we want to breath? Yes. Don’t cut down the rain forests then.
The other thing it does is produce an electronic record the dole office can check to see if you are actually applying for work. Handy for all. But if you haven’t used a computer it can, at first be a bit scary. And if you haven’t got as computer plus an internet service provider a bit of a problem. And that is where we at The Pad come in. We have a computer, more than one actually, and an internet service provider and a highly trained staff willing and able to help you make that first step to getting to grips with the modern way of looking for a job. Please note, if you just want to come in and learn how to use a computer, well we are just as ready and willing to help.
Actually the DirectGov Job search site is fairly straight forward once you have created your email address, registered, downloaded your CV and had 10 or 12 goes at it. You just click on the job you feel like applying for, remember the dole office want you to apply for lots of jobs, and basically 1 of 3 options occur. First is a phone number to ring. No problem there. Not everyone has a computer but most have a mobile. Second option is a box that says Apply. Click on that and your CV gets sent to the employer advertising the job. Easy. Third option gives an email address which can be copied. Then you open your email account and create a new message. Paste the address in the to Box, type the name of the job in the Subject box, type a short covering letter in the message box, attach your CV to the email and click send. The second option is recorded in your application history the third option is recorded in your Sent emails box. Dole office happy.
Then, in the last week I have come across a fourth option. Click on Apply and you occasionally end up on an agency web site. There you are instructed to Register, state your email address (so the web site can pester you with unsolicited emails to their hearts content), repeat email address, make up a user name, repeat user name, make up a password, repeat password and then go back to your email account to validate your email before being asked to Log on. Once into the site you will wander around for 5 minutes before discovering the original job you want to apply for requires you to log on to yet another site and then download an application form because the job advertiser will not accept you CV. This application form, which you then have to print out, fill in and post off, is inevitably nine pages long and full of fancy colours. Waste of paper and ink. It also asks daft questions like what university you went to and what professional bodies you belong to and what salary you expect and have you ever had sex with the principal?
Was the person I was helping looking a job with M16 or a senior lecturer at a top Oxford college or maybe assistant to the bastard still running the NHS?
No, not a chance. It was for a part time, 16 hours a week, job as a cleaner in a school.