The Work Programme isn’t working, unless you belong in the band of jobseekers that need basic assistance with applications, CVs and interviews, and help with essential computer skills. Those who are experienced – and by this, I mean skilled workers, managers and professionals over 40 – are not helped much by government programmes.
Why? Because the approach is all wrong. Current programmes make the tacit assumption that an unemployed person doesn’t want to work – I refer to the recent “shirkers versus workers” statements made by our government. It’s nonsense – and dangerous nonsense too. Pitting the middle and working classes against the poor is a distraction from the huge problems our country faces. The Tories have directed a media campaign designed to make voters think the unemployed have created the debt problem when, in actuality, it is government policies that keep the economy in a moribund condition. And we have a faulty economic system that continues to be propped up by those who created the problem. I refer to the banksters and financial opportunists who are still getting richer in these dark times.
Mature workers who are in dire straits need mature help. They cannot be treated like children. If they say they’re looking for a job, they mean it. Even if they wanted to, counsellors at JobCentrePlus haven’t been trained to make recommendations for older skilled workers – and the Work Programme doesn’t offer genuine support either. So where is the help?
You will solve your problem if you are able to pay a career coach something between three and eight thousand pounds. There are plenty of good companies – and individual coaches – who are ready to take your money and assist with employment readiness. It’s a proven tactic.
But did I mention dark times? Older workers usually don’t have that kind of discretionary cash, especially when they’ve lost a job, often without a sweet redundancy package and probably without much outsourcing help – if any. Where can they turn?
Job clubs can help. The benefits are enormous: a place to go once a week where you can learn to improve your presentation skills and be with people who understand what you’re going through. A good club will be a combination of back-to-work course, social club and networking opportunity. This type of club is one of the best you could join, even if it means travelling some distance or having to pay.
Free job clubs for older, white-collar workers are thin on the ground – so scarce, I decided to start one in my neighbourhood. It’s called Room For Work and we began our sessions in mid-October, 2012. Since then, we’ve helped over 30 people, three of whom have found work and a half dozen more are now getting interviews. Our numbers grow every week and I can say that I haven’t met a single “shirker” since we started.
Room For Work meets in south-west London. Find out more:
There’s another club in the Borough of Richmond
In Berkshire, there are five clubs:
I know of a good one in Colchester, Essex:
For a national list of job clubs click here (contact each one to determine suitability):
And if you are in the demographic I mention in the article above, you need my book: Finding Work After 40: Proven Strategies for Managers and Professionals (Bloomsbury)