Jobcentre Plus


Every week my colleagues and I visit Jobcentre Plus offices and spend time with many advisors.  It is clear that most advisors are rushed off their feet and this means that there is a production line feel to the process.  As a job seeker this can be both demoralising and frustrating.  At a time when individuals face much uncertainty this can be a further demonstration of how control is being taken from them.

The vast majority of Jobcentre Plus advisors do the job because they care about the impact they have and the good that they can do.  They are just snowed under and as a consequence unable to proactively assist their clients.  Their role has become one of getting through the day and just ensuring that people are registered, basic facts checked and the necessary administrative processes completed.

My advice to the job-seeker is to do your own home-work prior to meeting your advisor at Jobcentre Plus.  Spend some time on the Jobcentre Plus website ( and read about the various programmes that are available to assist you.  We regularly hear that those who ask their advisors what programmes they are eligible for and can be put on are offered more than those who do not ask.  For example the services of my company, MyWorkSearch (, can be obtained free of charge from your Jobcentre Plus advisor.  You just need to ask.

It is a very tough environment for job-seekers right now.  But there are opportunities.  Whether it be getting State assistance or securing a job, the key is to go for it yourself.  Don’t rely on others to do the legwork or make it happen for you.  Make it your responsibility to find out what is out there and available and then pursue it.  Do this and you are far more likely to be successful.

15 comments on “Jobcentre Plus

  1. Good advice there to “do your own home-work prior to meeting your advisor at Jobcentre Plus.” I would add that this is good advice for jobseekers prior to ANY meeting especially interviews.

    As for MyWorkSearch, I have heard first-hand stories about jobseekers successfully using this system and getting new jobs quickly.

    As Disraeli said so succinctly:

    “The most successful people in life are generally those who have the best information” !

    Help a Job Centre Advisor help you and go with the information ( !

  2. I disagree. An “advisor” is meant to advise and consult with the jobseeker. Common sense says read their guidance booklets and view the websites but shouldn’t these staff be explaining things to the jobseekers?

    I agree about them being snowed under; however a 40 minute New Deal appointment is exactly that… there is no reason why the advisor can’t explain the system to the jobseeker.

    Why aren’t they doing their job properly?

    • Several thousand Jobcentre Plus advisors were hired as the recession mounted and job losses accelerated. An unfortunate consequence is that some of them are learning as they go along and this has resulted in patchy service provision. In addition too many providers were approved by DWP to provide services and this has resulted in a confusing mass of meaningless organisation names and descriptions from whom an advisor has to pick. Many of the services are very similar and this cornucopia of choice has overwhelmed rather than enhanced.

  3. […] interesting conversation with Richard Alberg I wanted to direct you to an excellent, fair-minded blog about the advisors at Jobcentre Plus – here’s a snippet from […]

  4. James Smith says:

    Interesting blog Richard, you may be interested in reading a recent blog we just created on the Job Centre Plus (Online). You can find it here:

    Let us know your thoughts.

  5. Simon says:

    I appreciate your plea. What might be better than asking the claimants to suffer further, is to work with the staff, unions and employer in order to find a way of providing a better service.

    My girlfriend has been unemployed for 18 months. I find it stressful just knowing that the same thing will happen each time she signs.

    If she’s 2 minutes early – she isn’t allowed inside the building. Fine on a sunny day, but when it is below zero, or the rain is pouring there is no shelter near the building. In she goes with her book. She doesn’t use the diary provided, preferring to keep a more organised, and detailed diary of her activities, than the provided sheets allow.

    On the odd days where she gets to meet the same adviser as her last visit, she has to re-tell them that a cell biologist is not the same thing as a physiologist – she’s the cell biologist and holds a doctorate.

    The next search they run for her almost always comes up with a few computer programmer jobs. She holds an Masters degree in IT – great at analysis, design and testing, great at scripting but really awful at Object-Oriented code she’s given up after years of trying).

    She asks for any available training. They either say they don’t have anything suitable for her or take her number promising someone else will phone back with information. She’s spent so much time chasing those calls that your advisers just never make. She was invited to a job interview in Egypt. She had to make a special appointment (with a 2 week wait) to ask for permission to attend. At that interview with the adviser, he informed her she was free to go, but if she left the country she would have to sign off. He was so suspicious of her. The word she used was incredulous. She says he obviously thought she was going on holiday and was trying to cheat. She’s worked in various countries – that is what scientists do! Yet, as an unemployed person dealing with basically an amateur….. she was judged so wrongly. Can you imagine how demoralising that is? It’s a global market for everyone except the unemployed, is it?

    He assured her that was the rule. When she asked to see the rule book, he informed her she wasn’t allowed to see the rules because she was a member of public. It took an MP to establish that she was given the wrong information – but she just couldn’t afford to sign off so no interview, no job.

    If it is a new adviser she sees, it takes her the entire appointment time to explain her CV. The advisers frequently want to know why she studied particular degree courses as if that matters. They run out of time and don’t want to do a job search for her. She’s entitled for that to be done and that is what they are paid to do, so she asks even if they are running late. Why aren’t they prepared and familiarised before her appointment time? The advisers should be insisting their bosses allow them enough time to provide a professional service.

    The advisers are out of their depth. The system has been designed for factory workers, tradesmen etc. Some of the more friendlier, soothing staff explain to her about the people they have signing on from TV company employees, to ex-company directors. Most of the staff have no understanding of many of the claimants previous jobs and skills.

    One day she was told to stop trying so hard, not treat her job search as a full time job and give herself a break. At her next appointment a different adviser informed her she had to be searching every day, and if she failed to do so she would be disqualified!

    She’s on her job search activities no later than 9 am. She takes an hour for lunch – she walks around the park for one hour to get air and excercise, and then gets back to her ‘work’ until tea time. That’s five days a week. She refuses to even visit the local pool during working hours or talk a walk out on the country to relax. She’s worried that would mean she was making herself unreasonably available for work.

    Some advisers, particularly the ones who are familiar with her, can be soothing, sympathetic and encouraging. Others are so rude I’d be doubtful of their ability not to cause upset in a silent graveyard!

    She comes home demoralised and with no hope. I spend the evening cleaning up after advisers have made of her. Signing on, is more demoraling for her than receiving a rejection letter – which isn’t too often considering the number of applications she’s made since most don’t reply. She says she is a beggar, treated as a guilty pickpot because she doesn’t have work.

    She’s so destroyed by this, she’s in tears before she leaves home to sign on.

    At least once a month they suggest working for a charity for no wages. Have you any idea just how insulting that must seem to independent, smart people who earn nothing, while you, the adviser take home a salary? Obviously advisers fail to hear just how much that says ‘ I get paid, but the best you can do is work for absolutely nothing and become someone who is worth £0.00 for labour

    I struggle to understand your plea for patience with the poor working conditions of advisers. Your advisers are failing the woman I love. Slowly, her confidence is slipping, her hope is leaving, her capacity for joy, laughter and fun are all going too. She has no control, few choices, trapped in a downward spiral that your advisers are supposed to be paid to help her avoid.

    I’ll be round at her home tonight cleaning up some tears again because today is signing day.

    Allow me make a plea to you.

    As a tax-payer, and as a man who loves a beautiful, once strong, happy, proud and exceptionally capable woman, when will your advisers do the professional job that I, amongst many, are paying you to do?

    • tgroom57 says:

      Simon, I am in such similar circumstances I wondered if you were writing about me! See that your gf joins and gets joins the group correspondng to where she got her degree, – and recommendations from past employers can be added directly to her profile online. It may or may not work, but she can at least interact with more professional people than she will find in a jobcentre. I can be reached on my blog at wordpress – click name.

    • thorpe says:

      It is terrible when you can’t find a job and the Jobcentre can be useless but it is not their fault the economy is down the toilet or a particular person can not find a job.

      If your girl friend can not find a job in the hours she spends looking why does it matter if the people in the jobcentre do not do a jobsearch for her. They are only looking at the same vacancies on their website that anyone can look at and if you are a biologist is not going to be that useful anyway as it is harldly stuffed with graduate jobs.
      There is nothing wrong with doing voluntary work for those working or not working. It helps others, uses your brain, gives satisfaction, gets you out the house, builds confidence etc etc.
      What exactly is it that you want the Jobcentre to do?

      • Thank you for your comment. My objective was not to criticise Jobcentre Plus advisers but simply to emphasise that in our tough jobs market a person who wishes to secure employment must leave no stone unturned. It may be that the ideal job is not available however many employment opportunities do exist and the motivated job seeker has a very good chance of securing a reasonable role. Those who simply rely upon Jobcentre Plus risk disappointment.

  6. Simon says:

    Sorry. I can’t write what I mean! What I’ve just submitted makes my girlfriend sound like a dragon and a droop! Shes really mild natured. Have I made her sound like she is aggressive? I hope not – she is the opposite.

    Even ‘unreasonably available for work.’ is wrong and should be ‘unreasonably unavailable for work.’ I need to pay attention better.

  7. Simon sorry to hear that.

    You are mistaken to think they have a duty to help someone find employment. The only duty they have is to safeguard taxpayers’ money to the sense if they expect you are entitled to benefit without any supporting evidence (and normally without notification) they will pull your claim to an end. This is rather than giving you the ebenfit of the doubt until they prove otherwise and request the money back (or witheld further payments until its paid back).

    There is no obligation to find someone employment or training.

    New Deal is to stick people “in training” to reduce unemployment count.

    The only reason they offer jobs to you isn’t to help you find employment but to hand out Jobseeker Directions which effectively are a ticket for them to give you a 6 month sanction should you refuse or fail to apply/attend regardless of a good enough reason.

  8. Colin Taylor says:

    Having recently attended a 1st interview and I found the whole expierience a pathetic demotivating experience for anyone genuinely
    seeking to secure employment

    • Thats the problem. If you don’t comply you are off jobseekers without money to live on. If you comply, you focus on jumping through hoops and not on jobs…

      On New Deal there were 2 main groups of people…

      1. Those that rebelled. Sticking jobseekers into a room Mon-Fri 9-5 (office hours/business open hours) with very limited resources (i.e. a phone between 60 people), twiddling thumbs… is stopping people finding employment. These were the self-motivated… “job hunters”.

      2. Those that didn’t mind doing nothing and complying as they weren’t interested in finding a job. They all saw it as a social event of meeting new people and talking all day – “doing their time” – and although I personally found it boring, they found it the opposite to get out of the house. These people lack any motivation and seem to have almost given up on life.

  9. nevosopelo says:

    After reading all the entries I have noticed that not one has even mention the possibility of all jobseekers doing the New Deal thingy being the victim of some form of discrimination by employer’s offering vacancies. Many long term jobseekers, specially those in New Deal, are not offered any work for the sole reason that there is something wrong with these people.

    These kind of discrimination is, of course, almost imposible to detect never mind proving it.

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