I spent two days of my life listening to information, which didn’t dazzle me. It was hum-drum, pedestrian and kinda boring. Two days I will never get back in the whole scheme of life. I had gone on one of those training courses where I was sent by the Job Centre, prime contractor being A4E (because they devised the package) and Twin Employment carried out the training. The dull of ditch water new world order of private companies being contracted and subcontracted to create dull training that neither educates nor informs. What this process actually does inform you about is the complex nature of the contracting out of the benefits systems. Prime contractors who subcontracts with the overall employer being the state. And boy, aren’t those contracts worth millions (Jan 2012 – Twin has been named as one of the eight welfare-to-work companies who will be implementing a new £200m government programme to help families overcome barriers to employment).
Another apt description of this training would be “money for old rope”. The course was about “Finding and Getting a Job”. The information and guidance given to people was basic, nothing new, and pretty much what we (the group of us sitting in the room) knew already. How to find suitable vacancies, CVs, telephone techniques, application forms, interviews and coping with rejection. What was being explained was nothing new, I also felt my intelligence was being insulted. Everyone in the room understood their own objectives, applying for jobs, devised own CVs, applied for jobs, and certainly understood the cold depressing experience of rejection….Quite a lot!
I wondered, while sitting there staring out of the window looking at the inviting sunny sky pissed off that I can’t be out there taking pictures, whether these private companies actually believe their own right-wing rhetoric that people are empty vessels, wastrels and feckless too busy watching Jeremy Kyle to think about applying for jobs that they need two-bit training to get them going. Insult to anyone’s intelligence. People are sussed. They know what jobs to go for, they have written the CV, applied for jobs, attended job interviews. Hell, they have had jobs in the past. It isn’t about people not trying hard enough, making a tweak or two to their CVs, having an eureka moment in these training sessions where you can exclaim, “That’s where I’m going wrong”… No, the issue isn’t with the unemployed…. The issue is that… THERE ARE NO JOBS OUT THERE!
The state, aided and abetted by the private sector, haul people off to these courses with the threat of loss of benefits. Sanctions and coercion have brought these people to these training events. Unfortunately, you don’t learn anything of significance.
The trainer mentioned “recession” and “difficulties” of finding a job but no connection made with the fact that there are lots of people chasing too few jobs. Another issue (of many) is the lack of understanding about diversity, equal opportunities and diversity. I think the trainer saw it more about tick boxes experiences and not truly understanding the reasons of why equal opportunities are important and that with a recession people who experience discrimination and oppression in this society will bear the brunt of unemployment. But then this is the private sector, much of the information and exercises given were geared towards private sector jobs i.e. the so-called saviours of this recession.
If these training programmes were serious in the attempts to support people then you would explain the importance of making people aware of their rights. But again, I am living in fantasy land as this is just two-bit bare minimum “help” (hindrance?) time better spent searching for jobs on your own terms without the threat of sanction being wielded, a system that gives cover to the ConDems backing up their hideous right-wing ideology. Hey folks, it’s not about us or what’s best for us it’s about them peddling lies and rubbish.
Another thought occurred to me, are these courses/training modules accredited? Evaluated? Has there been any quality assurance, audits, peer reviews etc.? I tried searching yesterday but couldn’t find anything. Many of these contractors are vague about the courses and certainly you can’t find an in-depth detailed outline. Is this about corporate confidentiality? How many people forced on these training courses get jobs at the end? Has been research done on this? But then these private companies aren’t doing this for the good of the unemployed but for private greed… profit. It is about payment by results, how many people can you get into any old job. Certainly, and this was mentioned, the longer courses is where the money is at and where the profits are made.
The end of the training included filling out an evaluation form (with your name on top… usually they are anonymous). I expressed concerns (they possibly have my name on a file somewhere now). The course wasn’t organised properly, and too much time spent of CVs. Application process is a much more standardised, objective and fairer process than CVs. Nor was the whole of the application process explain i.e. filling out equal opportunities forms explaining where the data went. I think the trainer believed it disappeared into the ether of HR…never to be seen again. Personally I think the trainer needed to be trained on equal ops and diversity… His explanation of the sexual orientation categories on equal ops forms were bizarre to the say the least, referring to potential managers as “he” and asking me, for his records, what my “Christian name” was? I had to stop myself muttering, “FFS”!)
The second day was rushed and certainly, one of the reasons I attended this training, the part on interviews and interview skills was. No mock interview because there was no time. Buzz words were used but not explained. How do you develop confidence, for example? And so on…….
Finally, one of the final handouts was on “Keeping a Job”… (bit on “dealing with your boss” can be summarised as “be subservient”). Nothing about knowing your rights because at the end of the day it isn’t about you, you are just a cog in a wheel, it’s about behaving yourself. No mention either by A4E about it being a right to join a trade union…. Funny that.
I will be interested to know what other people have experienced on these kind of courses….