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All about: The jobcentre

Every British High Street, it seems, is now marked with a bright yellow and green jobcentre. Are these still just the ‘benefits agencies’ they once were, do you feel distaste at the thought of passing their doorways, or could they actually help you to find a job? Read this article to learn more about the jobcentre.

Do all unemployed people claim benefits?

The onset of the economic downturn has come with a steady drip of news reports about the rising and falling number of ‘unemployed’, blithely ignoring the fact that very often behind each statistic is a person who may very well want to work, and is beset with worries about finances and the future of their family or career. It is also often clear that not all unemployed people seek to claim state benefits, even if they are entitled to. Reasons include a reluctance to ‘scrounge’ off the state, a belief that they’re not entitled to due to having savings or a redundancy ‘payout’, or concerns about the application procedure.

Who can claim?

While real concerns for other forms of state financial support, anyone who has paid national insurance contributions in the UK for a period of time prior to becoming unemployed, is entitled to claim contribution based on jobseekers' allowance. The absence of means testing makes the application process easier than others, and small amount of money received each week can really help.

Job search

Anyone claiming jobseekers' allowance is required to attend the jobcentre for a fortnightly appointment with a dedicated agent. The jobseeker is required to keep a record of and detail their job hunting efforts, and can expect assistance while searching for online jobs on the extensive job search engines that are available to all staff and visitors to the centre, or on some occasions having interviews arranged for them. The opportunities database is also available to all members of the public via touchscreen pedestals scattered around the centre, and can be searched anytime. Seekers can then apply for these online, or using more traditional methods if they’re not comfortable using the internet. Centre staff also get involved and can help to suggest or organise training for jobseekers who lack skills.

Accountability

Jobseekers are encouraged to look for jobs which they feel they are motivated and competent to do, but then have to demonstrate that they are applying and attending interviews. Even for skilled and motivated jobseekers, the twice weekly appointments, with their combination of assistance and support, and requirements for the jobseeker to be responsible for the job search process, help to maintain momentum in the search, but also bolster the unemployed person’s self-esteem while they market themselves.

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