Editor’s Note: This is another post by Alex; this week he shares some encouraging news – he has been referred to a training course which is likely to get him a job interview. Let us wish him luck!
This week’s entry will concentrate on a more positive outlook from a struggling job seeker such as myself. On Thursday I attended, along with 38 others, an information and training day in the centre of Manchester for an agency called ICM – it supplies a variety of employers with potential employees. The employers sit in and oversee the training; they will be mainly looking to fill roles within the customer service sector, and through the agency, that has a direct link to the Job Centre, they can find a whole catalogue of people to interview. Not only does everyone attending the training get all-but-guaranteed interviews, but it was stressed to us during the induction that their work doesn’t stop as soon as the training is over – ICM look to follow up on every successful and unsuccessful job seeker, and support them not only by helping them to find basic work but helping them find more suitable and preferred positions with career prospects.
Now, there are many job agencies out there, and to my knowledge most of them are about as useful as an old car that won’t start on a cold winter’s morning (this could be any morning over the past 5 months here in the UK). Most agencies offer you temporary jobs, but never permanent ones. They file away your CV for their own records and encourage you to change jobs every 6 months or less (become a ‘job hopper’) because after 6 months they no longer get the full 10% of your wages via the referral they make. ICM, from what I can tell, discourage this kind of limp service and look to wholeheartedly support the individual accounting for their needs and talents.
All this may sound too good to be true considering the employment climate herein the UK – redundancies, the death of small businesses and job cuts all over have become a major concern. Alongside this the figure for unemployed 16-24 year-olds currently stands at a shocking 22% (and this is the official one). So I remain cynical but this single enthusiastic induction certainly helps in the short term.
The gentleman leading the inductions told us of his struggles being unemployed for 23 months, displaying a degree of empathy and understanding across the room, which I believe allowed us all to trust him and his colleagues more than we’d usually trust government services or big name agencies. Over the next two weeks I shall document my findings for you and reveal how successful and genuine the training course really is. My fingers are crossed at several angles.
As for my personal account of the session it was interesting simply to sit in a room surrounded by people in a similar situation. A lot of the unemployed indeed suffer from depression and a sizable lack of confidence, and most around me at the time looked as if they may well be battling with the same issues in their lives, albeit in their own way. Some were more outgoing though, confident and not afraid to ask questions. Most of us, however, adhered to a more solemn look, darkened by lack of money, activity and routine, and although the brightly presented and informal nature of the induction got a few chuckles it is not easy to alter your body language when unemployment gradually changes your personality.
There was also a key moment towards the end of the session, I felt. Since the group that turned up totalled 39, and was the record high of turn out that the tutors had experienced, we had to be split into two groups. The allocation for the two week course was around 20 and so we were given the option to either sign up for a course starting three weeks later, or stick around to be counted for the course starting as soon as next Tuesday. I stuck around! I could have left in the knowledge that I would be guaranteed a place in a few weeks, but perhaps my decision reflected my desperation. Perhaps the group that had left a few minutes earlier consisted of people who hadn’t been jobless or moneyless for too long, making them feel that they could put off the training and their employment prospects.
Either way I’d like to think everyone left feeling a bit more positive. We left feeling as though we had been addressed as human beings, and that at least one door had opened amongst so many other pathways slammed shut behind us. I certainly felt like this. In my days spent self loathing, wallowing and worrying, I at least had one day this week that gave me some hope. Even a slight movement in the right direction, as opposed to the backward stumbling, can make a significant change. The problems are still the same but the solution is now at least a recognisable mirage compared to that of a dim spot far beyond sight.