There's a classic song by the band Green Day called 'Warning' from the album of the same name, released in 2000, where agile and energetic front man Billie Joe Armstrong sings in his trademark voice: 'warning...live without warning'. I bring this up because if you're a hard working graduate with a commendable degree (or in fact even a compassionate human being with a working aortic pump) who is considering signing up to your local jobcentre for jobseekers allowance, then let me just backhand slap you with, well...a big, fat WARNING.
Now, I'm NOT generalising here but the upcoming tales I'm about to share with you, whilst not quite as lexically profane as the storytelling on Eminem's 'Marshall Mathers LP', are still a highly negative account of MY OWN personal experience with my local jobcentre. (I'll spare naming and shaming them for now...ah screw it....Harrow. My local jobcentre is Harrow. HARROW. H-A-R-R-O-W. HAARRROWWW!).
Okay. Get your best disapproving nod ready because I'm about to go all Chris Brown on em'.
Rant. Take One...
'...A**holes are closer than they appear' says actor Jim Carrey in the film 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)'. However, in my case, let's replace the kind French with 'advisers at the Jobcentre'. Actually no, in this case they are probably one in the same. And they're closer. Much closer. In fact they are so in your face they make you look like you're either some conjoined Siamese twin or you're wearing their patronising, unpleasant face as a mask.
But before we get into the psychologically gory details regarding our primary antagonists, let's examine the heinously tedious 'signing up' process to get access to your jobseekers allowance.
Step 1 - go through stupid red tape online via an insanely annoying application form (so long and pointless I'm surprised they don't ask when your first period was).
Step 2 - sort out an appointment over the phone and then visit the Jobcentre to officially sign up if you're eligible to receive a measly £56 a week. Here you tell them what type of work you're looking for so they can give you relevant vacancies to apply for. (note: if you're a film graduate like me...good luck securing anything relevant with them).
Step 3 - go in to see an adviser on a mandatory set day whose job it is to make sure you've applied to x number of jobs in between weekly/fortnightly appointments. Seems simple and not so troublesome right? Wrong.
Step 4 - grit your teeth and be prepared to have them pull a Luis Suarez and bite your head off.
Let me put my personal experience of these visits as bluntly as I can. The advisers who deal with you at the Jobcentre are inept. They're condescending. They're rude. They're impolite. They treat you like chewing gum stuck to their shoe: the same shoe they probably want to kick you with because you're a no good, benefit hungry, worthless scumbag. That's the attitude they display. If you're foreign and your grasp of the English language is below average, then well, all I can say is, sit on a life sized plate and hand them a knife and fork because they will eat you alive. They'll skin you first though. Their patience is lacking more than a page 3 models dignity. They're so bad in fact that the security guards are the friendliest, most welcoming people in that place.
When it comes to helping you find work, the problem is that even if you're a university graduate with a good degree but unfortunately suffering from unemployment (like I was at the time) they tar you with the same brush they would a booze scented, pork pied lager lout who's just stumbled in with no sense of purpose. They don't care.
They give you idiotic, compulsory jobs to apply for: one's so irrelevant to your chosen career path. I, for example, was told to apply to a job which I later discovered I needed 2 years of random sales experience for (which I didn't have) so I didn't bother. I instead used my initiative and applied for something in my field which I thought made sense right? NOPE. When I showed up for my appointment a week later, those mofos docked my allowance for 6 weeks for using my own common sense! There was no understanding whatsoever. I tried to reason with them but I might as well have been whispering Korean poetry to a deaf Nigerian guy. They then proceeded to make me fill out this bullsh*t appeal form which wasted everyone's time because the superiors didn't side with me in the end as expected. A couple of my close friends who were also jobseekers at the time stopped claiming because they couldn't handle the crap they had to deal with even though they were abiding by the Jobcentre rules.
I think what these people want to do is give you any old job so they can tick their boxes and turn you into a government statistic to show that 'yay unemployment rates have declined!' - it's nonsense. I didn't overpay for a degree and do solid work experience in places to train to be a pizza delivery boy (no offence to them - I love pizza). Yes, the JC have the potential to get you a job, but they don't help further your personal career especially if you studied or work in a field like media. They simply go through the motions.
Every job I eventually got hired for, I found on my own accord without their help.
I guess to sum up, I know the Jeremy Kyle contestant type jobseekers get labelled as lazy and not willing to work and sure, some of them deserve the tag. I'm sure not every jobcentre in the country is THAT bad either. Maybe I was just unlucky to be dealt a bad hand of advisers. Maybe their inadequate home lives are making them take out their anger on jobseekers. Maybe they've had to deal with so many idiots that the line between a willing jobseeker and scrounger is a thin, thin line.
I don't know. How have your experiences been?
Should potential 'jobseekers' be warned or am I in the minority (Green Day fans will get that one).
Over N' Out