21st Century Job Search
Like so many things today, applying for jobs has changed. Now the majority of job applications are online requiring jobseekers to have good IT skills and access to a computer with internet access. For some this is a major barrier to overcome.
Prospects, the education, employment and skills company, delivering the Work Programme for the Department of Work and Pensions, helps job seekers across the south west to find and apply for jobs online, by improving their IT skills and providing free access to the internet. In their Bournemouth offices people who are furthest from job market, those who have been out of work for more than 12 months, or may have been judged fit for work after claiming employment support allowance, the benefit that replaced incapacity benefit, are supported to get into work.
Prospects team of advisers work with people individually and in small groups to help them understand how to search and apply for jobs online. The help they provide with basic IT skills may come easily to those of us working with computers everyday, but for some job seekers attaching a document to an email may be a new skill.
Being excluded from the online revolution, either through circumstances or choice, not only prevents people from being able to access the thousands of jobs advertised every day in the UK, but affects people’s confidence and self esteem, vital elements required for employment.
One person Prospects is helping is Kerry. In her late 50s Kerry has been out of work for more than a year. She had previously worked in kitchens and as a chef, but despite repeated attempts to gain employment Kerry had no success applying for jobs on her own.
Prospects worked with Kerry on an individual basis to help her make her applications successful. Having worked in kitchens throughout her working life Kerry was unfamiliar with online job search and applications so needed to improve her IT skills. Prospects helped Kerry improve her skills and made sure whenever Kerry was working in the centre there was someone available if she needed help.
Kerry is about to start a work placement, working in a tea room in the kitchen. She is thrilled and hopes the placement will turn into permanent job role. However, in the meantime Kerry is continuing to apply for job roles online and has a second placement lined up if things do not work out.
Kerry said: “Prospects have been fantastically supportive, they treat me as an individual and they listen. I never used IT in my jobs in the kitchen, so they have helped me by teaching me and are always on hand to give me advice.”
Samantha Stevens, Prospects Performance Manager in Bournemouth, has watched Kerry’s skills improve and her confidence grow. She is confident Kerry’s placement will ensure she is successful in securing a permanent job.
Samantha commented: “76% of people in the UK have smartphones and there is a presumption that everyone is able to go online and easily access the information they need. But that still means a quarter of the population do not use a smartphone. Also using a smartphone and using the internet for applying for jobs is very different. Many companies require documents to be attached to applications and that is not something that can be easily done on a smartphone. By helping people gain IT skills and improve their overall employability we are able to support them into work.
“In the past month we have helped 35 people find and gain employment in Bournemouth. That’s 35 people who are now better off financially, who are now able to move their lives forward and develop their potential. Many of these jobs started with a work placement.
“Work placements are a chance for both the employer and job seeker to judge whether a permanent role would be suit them. Jobseekers who undertake work placements are able to get a taste of what working with a particular company would be like long term without affecting their benefits. This means they are more willing to try a role that might be outside of their comfort zone.
“Employers also gain as they can assess how well a person will fit with their team and whether they are able to perform the tasks required. Many employers are nervous of taking on people who have been long term unemployed, but are prepared to give someone a trial, and even if it doesn’t work out, it is still valuable work experience for the person involved.”
To find out more about the work Prospects does to help get the south west working contact www.prospects.co.uk or http://www.gettingthesouthwestworking.co.uk.
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Notes to Editor
Two photographs are attached for use, one shows Kerry applying for jobs, the other is an overview taken at Prospects Bournemouth office.
The figure 76% of UK are smartphone users was taken from http://www.deloitte.co.uk/mobileuk/
The Prospects Group is a dynamic and enterprising organisation providing a wide range of education, employment and skills services in the UK and internationally. At the heart of what we do is the drive to improve the life chances, skills and aspirations of everyone we support. Each year we support more than 500,000 young people and adults.
For more information please visit: www.prospects.co.uk
Alona de Havilland