White Collar Unemployed Blog

Welcome to the blog page of White Collar Unemployed UK, the website that brings together the rapidly growing White Collar unemployed community in the UK to share questions, concerns, frustrations, thoughts, ideas, advice and anything else that might help our community to get back to work.

To quickly find earlier articles and topics from our blog you can use our WCU Blog index

If you have anything you would like to contribute to our White Collar Unemployed (WCU) Blog, please email it to us. Contact us.

Why not take a look at some of the articles on our articles page as well and of course, you can also use our WCU forum page.

If you like our blog, why not share it with your friends and other unemployed people you know and help spread the word about our site. Just click on the share button below.

URGENT - 2 Unemployed Executive full bursaries available on the FT MBA (Master in Business Administration) beginning on 30 April 2014

Each year Nottingham Trent University Business School offers bursaries to a few unemployed managers.

Entry Requirements are:

  • An initial degree,
  • A minimum of three years of work experience (although the average age is 31),
  • Unemployed due to downsizing and not for any other reason and would like to progress their career and get back into employment.

All the previous candidates through this route have found employment at the end of the Programme. The programme is geared to enhancing careers, management knowledge and leadership capabilities.

Each MBA also receives an iPad to keep and the Core Module Text books.

For further information please contact:

Chris Crabot, Head of International Affairs
Nottingham Business School
Nottingham Trent University

T: +44 115 848 2110
M: +44 782 572 4979

E: christophe.crabot@ntu.ac.uk 


Urgent - Unemployed graduate in Scotland ?

Hi There,

I am a reporter with the Scottish Daily Mail and before the budget tomorrow (20-3-2013) I am looking for an unemployed graduate in Scotland to talk about how a reduction in job seekers allowance or any other part of the budget might impact them.

My number is 02036154736 and I am looking for someone who will have their photo taken and will talk to us tomorrow about the budget.


Wills Robinson



Are you parent, struggling to make ends meet?

Do you claim benefits and think the government are not doing enough to help?

Are you in work but finding that your pay does not go far enough?

Are you young and finding it hard to get on the career ladder?

Do you think you're 'The Squeezed Middle'?

Channel 4 News will be holding a debate in Nottingham, Arnold on 20th March to discuss the Budget. We are looking for contributors who have something to say about how they are coping in these difficult economic times.

Please contact Emma on 07557659827 or emma.clark@itn.co.uk


Opportunities and Benefits of Teaching English as a Foreign Language – TEFL

Guest post by Helen Hargreave

How does guaranteed employment, £2000 a month, return airfare and free accommodation sound? These are just some of the perks of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Interested?

A TEFL qualification allows you to travel the world whilst earning money at the same time – a great escape from the current routine of: wake up, apply for a job, and hear no reply, sleep. In your new life this could change to: wake up, actually enjoy your morning commute to work taking in the sights of your new, exotic destination, spend the day teaching enthusiastic students, explore a new culture with your new friends and spend weekends at the beach. Not bad!

How does TEFL work?
A TEFL qualification is a short, online course that allows you to study from anywhere in the world, at your own pace. Once qualified you can get started on your TEFL adventure and begin applying for jobs all over the world!

There are over 1 billion English-learners all over the world – this means there is a very high demand for English teachers!

Never thought about teaching? No problem, with no experience required, a TEFL course provides you with all the training so that you step into your first classroom feeling confident. Bottom line, if you can speak English you can teach English!

Where can I go?
All over the world! No catch! Ever thought about packing up and starting a new life in Thailand? Now’s your chance! There’s no end to places you can go so long as the world needs TEFL teachers!

Why is TEFL good for my CV?
TEFL is an amazing way to boost your CV. Not only does it provide you with incredible life experience but is also a great opportunity to develop many key skills that will interest future employers.

Here are just a couple:

Communication skills – you’re in a new country, you don’t speak the local language and they don’t speak yours. This is your moment to shine! Throughout your teaching contract you will perfect your ability to communicate through total English immersion for your students. Whilst living in your chosen destination you will also find that you’ll start picking up snippets of the local language.  If you choose to take on a one year teaching contract you’ll see how you’ve directly impacted your students too.

Resourcefulness – teaching English abroad will bring all sorts of challenges – for example, if you’re teaching in a remote part of the world teaching supplies may not be readily available. This will provide you with the opportunity to be resourceful and creative in your teaching methods – proving to any future employers that you are adaptable and quick to offer solutions to unexpected situations.

How Much Can I Earn?
Teaching salaries vary from country to country, employer to employer. So, if you’re looking to earn lots of money there are some countries that boast particularly high salaries.

In countries such as Japan, South Korea and United Arab Emirates TEFL teachers can earn enough money to have a comfortable living and have some saved up too! In South Korea it is possible to save as much as £600 a month!

Other countries may look like they pay less money but if you take into consideration that the cost of living in countries such as China or Thailand where you can get a plateful of delicious noodles for around 30p, you’ll soon see that your wage will allow you to live pretty comfortably!

It is not uncommon to receive perks such as: free accommodation, free food, return airfare or health care too!

Got your passport ready? Find out more information here:http://www.onlinetefl.com



5 tips to using an agency and land the perfect job

James Caan James Caan recently published a few useful tips on how to make your self stand out as a candidate in the current very difficult job market.

Read his article entitled "5 tips to using an agency and land the perfect job"

Good luck !



Welcome to your new job!

Guest blog by Elle Jenkins, Life Coach Directory, 15th August 2012

No salary, no bonus, no expense account and no overtime.  Your new job is searching for a new job. So you've been made redundant/ let go/ had a company 'restructure'- what are you going to do?  Whilst wallowing in self pity in the living room with the curtains closed seems like a fantastic idea, might I suggest an alternative?

Strike whilst the iron's hot.  You have anger, maybe even hatred towards your old employers- How dare they do this to me!  What did I ever do to them?  It really wasn't me who did that at the Christmas party!  Use this fresh energy and channel it into finding a job. 

Get up as you would normally for work.  Set your alarm clock, have your breakfast, get showered and look smart.  Sit at a desk and start by assessing your CV.  Think like an employer- would you hire you?  Make sure your CV is informative, well structured and triple check for spelling mistakes.  There is nothing worse than reading about someones previous job in 'tellycommunications'.  It should never be more than two pages long and should be a concise account of your previous work history.

What sort of job are you looking for?  Are you going to apply for exactly the same role as before or do you feel like trying a completely new vocation?  Losing your job is hard enough but facing the task of a new career altogether can be daunting.  There is a great article about career change here:  http://www.lifecoach-directory.org.uk/articles/career.html  You may find that you have to take a lower salary with a change in career but don't be put off by this.  As long as you can afford to make ends meet and still have some sort of social life, you may be offered training or further education subsidised by the company which is invaluable to you.

Next, do not be afraid to door knock.  Firing applications to every company within a 25 mile radius of you is boring and monotonous and this will show in your emails.  If you want to work for a certain company or want to know if someone is recruiting, go and ask!  It is easy for companies to ignore emails but if you present yourself to them in person, it is much harder to turn you away.  Make sure you have copies of your CV on you and always wear a suit.  This shows you mean business!

If you do apply for jobs online, keep a diary and note the name of the company, the job title, the email address and, if possible the name of the contact.  This way, in a week's time you can follow your application up which will show willing and vigilance. 

There will be times when recruiters don't get back to you or perhaps you didn't get an interview, but do not be disheartened.  Times are hard but you will get there.  If you are having trouble staying motivated or feel like you need some guidance and direction, a life coach is a great avenue to try.  For more information, go to http://www.lifecoach-directory.org.uk/


Fed up not getting any feedback to your job applications ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 03/08/2012

Maybe it is a sign of the times but it seems quite normal these days for recruiters not to even respond to job applications in many cases. This can be very frustrating and with no feedback, how can you identify if you are doing something wrong and if so fix it ?

I came across this interesting article today which gives you some good tips for job searching in the modern way and using social media tools to help you.

5 Reasons Why You Never Hear Back After Applying For A Job

Hope you find it useful.


New Channel 4 Series Launches Expert-Run Hotel & Seeks Unemployed People To Be Involved.

This big new Channel 4 project aims to get Britain working, by giving some unemployed people the opportunity to gain experience working with high-profile experts in a new hotel.  

We are looking to involve unemployed people of all ages and backgrounds in the programme. The selected unemployed people will have the chance to get work experience in a hotel.  They will have the opportunity to be mentored and trained in the hospitality industry by high-profile experts.

One of the UK’s most well-known chefs will run the kitchen; a top, respected, customer service expert will run front of house and the rooms.  From the front desk to the hotel spa; food-sourcing to the bar – there will be roles in all aspects of the hotel.

The aim of the programme is to give a selection of people the skills to find permanent positions or get onto training schemes once the series has finished. Throughout the series the hotel will also raise money for charities and schemes across the nation that specifically help people get training and employment.

It’s an aspirational fund-raising project that is going to help Britain get back to work!

If you’re unemployed and would like to take part in the programme please e-mail: hotel@optomen.com or phone 0203 227 5939.



A plea for help from across the water

I had a call today (31-5-12) from a French journalist working for Capital, a leading economic publication in France (Circulation around 300 000 copies, www.capital.fr ) who needs some help on a story he is writing on austerity in the UK.

He is researching the fate of white collar unemployed, and would like to talk to one or two WCU's who could tell their story and would agree for a picture.

If you can assist, please contact Eric WATTEZ at Capital:

Email address: ewattez@prismamedia.com or/and e.wattez@gmail.com
Phone number: mobile + 33132452729/office : +33173054897


Looking for help North of the Border

I’m a journalist based in Scotland and I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me with a feature I’m working on — or, if you can’t help, put me on to someone who can.

I’m working on a feature about unemployment and am looking to interview a family with two or more members currently unemployed. I want it to reflect how hard the recession has hit and how difficult it can be to get a job in these tough economic times. Ideally, I’d love a hard-working family who has previously never had experience of redundancy which has now been hit.

As we sell primarily in Scotland, a family from north of the border would be perfect.

I look forward to hearing from any of the WCU community who may be interested or could help.

Alison Kirker
Lead Reporter
The Sunday Post

D C Thomson & Co Ltd
80 Kingsway East

t 01382 575822





Infact is looking for unemployed graduates

London March 29th 2012

Infact is looking for unemployed graduates for a photographic and multimedia project.The project is about young graduates that are unemployed or need to take on jobs that fall below their range of skills and specialization.

The project is aimed at young unemployed graduates of all ethnicities and young under- employed graduates will be considered.

We will need to meet the candidates in person to take a set of three to five pictures. The candidates will also need to bring a copy of their CV.

Following the casting the chosen candidates will travel in a European city for two days to join the final phase of the multimedia/photographic project.All expenses will be paid and they will be paid a flat fee of 500.00 € for their time.

Deadline: April 3rd, 2012

Please contact: infact.uk@gmail.com or 07727070739

Web: www.infact.it


Can you help with my radio documentary ?

Guest blog - Sam Cook, 5th March 2012

I am a student, currently in my third year of study. I am producing a radio documentary on the benefits system in England, and was wondering if you could be a part of it?

I'm concentrating on 'workfare', and would like some case studies who are either on benefits, or actively looking for work without them, as case study interviews for the piece.

It seems that once a person reaches a certain age, that's it for employment. The recent Panorama episode titled 'Over the hill at 50' is something that stands out for me.

Would you be willing to help? If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask,

Many thanks,

Sam Cook, sam-cook@hotmail.co.uk

Hidden Job Market Strategy Tips

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 05/01/2012

"Something like only 5 out of 1000 online job applications ever make it to the hiring manager's desk?" I have heard this stated many times over the years but I came across a blog article today that reminded me about it. They are also offering a free webinar that you can sign up for to tell you more about it so I thought it worth sharing the details here for you in case you wanted to have a look. There is an introductory video on the sign up page that tells you a bit more about it before you register.

"Free webinar: How to Find Hidden Jobs in Any Economy. All you have to do is sign up, pick a time (sessions are limited and enrollment is capped at 100--so hurry), and be able to sit at your computer for about an hour."

(Ref: http://careerconfidential.com/hidden-job-market-strategy-tips/ )


Is this you ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 24/10/2011

A London Press Agency is seeking participants for a human interest feature in the UK national newspapers.

Are you a white collar worker who has excelled in their field, but thanks to the recession their life has radically changed?

They are looking for individuals who have radically downsized their home: from a mansion to a bedsit for example.

Or have you gone from being an executive earning six figures to a worker on the minimum wage - perhaps you've swapped your white collar for a blue one?

Maybe you are even homeless now or living in temporary accommodation?

On the other hand you may have innovated your way out of trouble and have an incredibly inspiring story that will change the way people view the recession.

If your life has transformed in an extreme way since the global recession has set in and you'd like to tell the nation your story then get in touch."

Contact details :

Michael Carroll,
News Reporter,
0044 (0) 845 370 2233


Joint event with the Westminster Social Policy Forum:

Westminster Forum Projects is broadening its focus into new areas by introducing a new forum, targeted towards Employment.

The Westminster Employment Forum aims to provide the premier environment for policymakers in Parliament, Whitehall and government agencies to engage with key stakeholders. These include representatives of business and their advisors, trade unions and employee representative groups, legal professionals, the voluntary sector and academia.

Welfare Reform - 'getting Britain working'

Monday, 12th September 2011
Sixty One Whitehall, London SW1A 2ET
Guests of Honour: Oliver Heald MP, Member, Work and Pensions Select Committee and a senior representative, Department for Work and Pensions.

Website | Book Online | Live Agenda


Dolbert's Diary update

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 10/07/2011

Dolbert sent me an update for his Diary today. Seems things are improving a little for him, an encouraging note for all of us. Read Dolbert's Diary.


URGENT - Wanted for TV programme

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 05/07/2011

ITV are currently making a programme following three people as they attempt to find a job in the recession. As part of the programme they will be taking them to meet business and careers experts to get advice on how they can improve their employment prospects.

One of the people they are looking for is an over 50s man or woman who has been out of work for some time and is trying to find work.

If you fit the bill and would be interested, please contact vicki.keogh@itv.com ASAP


For unemployed over 50, jobs especially scarce

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 26/6/2011

I came across a CBS news report on this topic recently and it seems that the problem is very similar in the US as well. I watched theCBS video (below) and it seems to me to be pretty much the exact same situation there as we have here in the UK.

Their ProNet career center for unemployed professionals in Charlotte reportably sees 350 people a week, almost all of those in the video have at least a degree, some have MBA's and they still can't get a job, in fact it seems to work against them in many cases.

You can see from the video, these guys are working hard, full time to try and find a work, they are not sitting around wasting their time. I think this is also pretty typical for most of our WCU community here in the UK, they want and need to work and they are trying hard to get themselves out of the situation. Quite different to the picture painted by Channel 4's "Fairy Jobmother" series !

What do we have like this in the UK ? A good question to ask your MP perhaps.

Take a look at the video below, I'm sure many of you out there can relate to it and will have had similar experience.

jobs especially scarce for over 50 white collar unemployed in US - CBC News

Watch video on CBS website

I've said it before and I 'm sure I will say it many more times, the WCU community here in the UK are the ones with the experience and skills to create businesses and jobs - why isn't our government investing in them ?


The growing over 50's problem

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 12/4/2011

I thought that Panorama (BBC1, Monday 4th April 2010) did quite a good job at highlighting the plight of the growing number of unfortunate long term unemployed over 50's in the UK and the difficulties they are facing. Unfortunately, until now, these facts rarely make the headlines and never seem to be the subject of any government back-to-work initiatives.

Office of National Statistics (ONS) data reveals that for the over-50s,the odds of finding another job are lower than in any other age group. Andy Harrop, policy director of charity Age UK, said in the programme that over 50's out of work for more than about 3 months will find it very difficult to get back into work ever again.

I agree wholeheartedly with Lord Digby Jones on his job advice for the over-50s presented in the programme. He is one of the very few that seems to have a grasp of the situation and what is needed. He also highlighted another very important point - if the government do not do something about this situation now, it will soon be too late for this growing army of people.

One of the main points that came out of the programme is that these people need to accept that almost certainly they will have to re-train for a different field of work if they want to get back into work. In many cases this will mean going right back to square one and starting all over again.

One major barrier to this however is funding. Most unemployed people do not have the funds to support them for an training which can be quite expensive and there is no government funding available for this so it is a bit of a catch 22 situation. I remember reading a report last year that most people typically only have savings sufficient to last them for around one month so how can one pay the bills and have anything left to pay for anything else. If you have no job, it is also going to be difficult to get a loan for anything either.

Employment minister Chris Grayling said during the interview that the private sector would lead the recovery in the job market for workers of all ages. "The evidence is the economy is growing and people will invest and they will create jobs".

To me this seems quite naïve to think that the private sector can create sufficient jobs for the unemployed in the UK. With all the public sector cuts, new graduates and school leavers alone constantly adding to the already massive ranks of unemployed it cannot possibly keep up with the demand.

A recent survey of local councils indicates that the over 50s will make up almost 60% of the planned 400,000 redundancies in the public sector between now and 2015. That is another 240,000 unfortunate souls. How many jobs for people in that age group will be created in that time ?

One of the people featured in the Panorama programme mentioned that his small pension pot and his wife's part-time wages mean that they do not qualify for any state support. Not being registered for job seekers allowance, which is quite typical of this group of people, means they are not actually recorded in the unemployment figures. It is therefore pretty much unknown just how many such people there are like this in the UK so that actual unemployment figures are in fact much higher than those reported.

The latest ONS figures showed that the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 10,200 in February to 1.45 million but there is no indication in the statistics of how many have just reached the end of their entitlement (which is what happened to me after 6 months - even after paying into the system for 38 years !). It certainly does not mean that they all have found jobs.

There are a growing number of such people out there who are living off what is left of their savings (if they are not already gone), redundancy packages or pensions now so this is another disaster waiting to happen. In most cases, these were savings accumulated over many years that they had intended to support them during retirement. If it all goes now, this means even more people who will be dependent on the state to support them in a few years time. Funds for pensions and benefits for the aging population is already a major problem so this is only going to make this situation even worse.

Thank you to Panorama for helping to raise awareness of this situation but this is just the tip of the iceberg and clearly a lot needs to be done if we are to avert another future disaster occurring.


Panorama - Over-50 'crushed' by redundancy

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 14/3/2011

Those of you who have been following the White Collar Unemployed blog for a while will remember that one topic of my concerns I have mentioned on several occasions is the growing number of over 50's in long term unemployed. These number have been steadily growing for more than a decade now and I fear the situation is only going to get worse.

I heard on BBC Breakfast today that Panorama tonight is all about this topic. It is long overdue to be given more visibility as it is another of those ticking time bombs. There are so many people out there in the UK who have been through this (myself included) and many more who are still in this situation who need helping but nobody is listening.

See this very moving trailer for the show "Older worker 'crushed' by year-long hunt for work" on the BBC Panaorama website.

Make sure you watch BBC Panorama tonight at 20:20 on BBC1 and make sure you give them your feedback. As always, I am very willing to add your emails on our "Readers letters" page.

Free one day mentoring workshop

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 14/3/2011

The Silver Academy is a partnership between the University of Surrey and South East England Chambers of Commerce and its purpose is to help unemployed over 50 year olds start their own businesses.

They are currently working with a group of 100 people in the Surrey and Hampshire area and are looking to provide them with a team of business mentors to help them start and grow their own businesses.

More details on the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce website.


3 generations unemployed ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 14/3/2011

I had a call from BBC South this morning asking if I could help them locate a family that currently has 3 generations unemployed (i.e. a young person, one or both parents, and a grandparent) for a documentary they are filming. They want to find out what the Government are doing to help families like this, understand how the family feel about their situation and if they see it changing in the near future?

If you fit the above criteria, or know someone who does, please contact daniel.henry@bbc.co.uk or jane.goddard@bbc.co.uk.


Interested in taking up a Franchise ?

One option for those seeking employment is of course a franchise opportunity. If that is some thing you might be interested in, you can find out more at the annual franchise show which is coming up shortly in London. More details below on how to get free admission.

The Franchise Show London 2011


We just wanted to pop you over a quick email to let you know there are only a few days left to order your free tickets to The Franchise Show.

It's being held at ExCeL in London on Friday & Saturday this week and is sure to be a fantastic event for anyone interested in franchising with over 100 franchises present and over 50 seminars from industry experts.

To order your tickets, simply click the link below:


See you at the show!

The Franchise Show Team


Free franchise offer to 3 WCU community members

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 29/01/2011

Following on from our mention in the Guardian Work section article today, I was contacted by Nigel at Taxmole.com offering 3 free franchise opportunities to WCU members.

Details on our WCU opportunities page.


Out of work? Join the job club

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 29/01/2011

If you haven't already seen it, there is an excellent article in the Guardian Work section today by Andrew Bence entitled "Out of work? Join the job club".

It seems that nothing much has changed since my last visit to the Jobcentre which is more than a year ago now as I started my own business as I could not get a job. From my experience, my local Jobcentre staff generally did not know about any help that was available for White Collar Unemployed, often I told them about the Government schemes that they should be telling me about (that is one of my reasons for starting the WCU website).

As Andrew mentions in his article, it appears that "job creation by the Government has been ruled out … the new enterprise allowance has been launched to encourage people  to create our own small businesses."

I have noticed recently that there appears to be a trend of changing the name of previous Government  schemes and launching  them again. For example, "Job clubs" now seem to be called "Work Clubs" and "Self Employment Credit"  is now to become the "New Enterprise Allowance".

I wonder if this is just the spin doctors attempt to give the impression the Government are doing something to address the issues.

In principle, the idea of helping people start businesses and hence create jobs is the way to go, however, you can't do very much with a £1000 allowance over the first few weeks of starting a business and a £1000 loan for start-up capital.

The scheme also promises the assistance of a mentor but  I wonder just how many  the Government have on call to help, particularly with the demise of bodies like Business Link ? In my local area alone, there are a lot of former Business Link advisors looking for jobs themselves and are struggling.

Job clubs are a great idea and something I have always been a great believer in. They bring unemployed people  together, allowing them to support  and help each other and encourage and raise peoples confidence in difficult times.

As it states on the GB Job Club website, "30 per cent of those who lose their jobs find another one through friends, family or social networks. Only 10 per cent of people find employment through Jobcentre Plus. ‘Who you know’ still counts. Job Clubs will help enhance individuals’ social networks and give them much needed motivation and support during difficult times."

Providing some mentoring and  basic  help with CV writing, interview techniques etc is really useful  but I personally feel there could also be an opportunity to develop them further to help people get to the next step and make them even more successful.

Clubs like these could be encouraged as a means of bringing together groups of skilled, experienced people as a network. These people, perhaps with some additional help (and funding) from entrepreneurs and business,  could spot business opportunities and then help build suitable teams to take advantage of these and build new companies, develop needed skills in the area etc.

Imagine how useful it would be if we could build a skills database of all the White Collar Unemployed in the UK. Entrepreneurs, industry, and the Government, could identify opportunities and then call up the teams they need in that area to get it going or assist with re-training people with the skills that are needed.

Many years a go I learnt an important rule in business which is if what you are doing isn't working, stop doing it and do something different. Maybe it is time someone reminded the JobCentres and the Government of this ?

Job creation is what is needed if we are going to get out of this mess. The Government is not going to resolve this, we have to do it ourselves.



WCU wanted for Panorama documentary

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 24/01/2011 (Last updated 25-1-2011 12:10)

Are you 50 plus and about to be made redundant?  Are you 50 something and have been made redundant, and still have children to support?

Are you prepared to talk to a current affairs team about your experience of losing your job?

If so could you contact the programme researcher, Jacqui Lloyd on 0161 832 2007 or email jacqui.lloyd@ninelivesmedia.co.uk.

(please mention White Collar Unemployed web site so they know what it relates to).


Job Interview Tips For The Hearing Impaired

Guest blog article by the team at Hearing Direct - November 2010

Hearing loss and especially age related hearing loss is more common than you might think. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) has estimated that 9 million UK residents suffer from some type of hearing disability. If you are an active job seeker and you suffer from hearing loss, the prospect of attending an interview may seem challenging. Not only do you have to demonstrate that you have what is takes to secure the job, you also have to overcome your hearing impairment during the job interview.

What is age related hearing loss?

Age related hearing loss, or presbycusis as it’s known in the medical profession, is a common condition which affects people over the age of 40 years old. Hearing loss affects all age groups, but age related hearing loss is especially damaging because the hearing loss tends to take place gradually, thereby making it harder to notice. When typical age-related hearing loss occurs, it’s harder to hear higher frequencies, particularly in background noise situations.

How to overcome your hearing loss during an interview?

A hiring process may include two types of job interviews. As a candidate you might be faced with both or just one. The two types of job interviews are, face to face and telephone based job interview. Here is a selection of tips for the hard of hearing job seeker during each of the two types of interviews.

Telephone Job Interview Tips For The Hearing Impaired:

1. Start by taking a mock interview - if you haven’t attended a telephone job interview for some time, start by taking a mock interview. It will help you determine if a telephone interview is realistic for you.

2. Set the perfect environment - if you suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss, a quiet environment might be all that it takes for you to hear the interviewer. Set the telephone interview when you are in a quiet room and on a type of telephone which you are more comfortable with.

3. Amplify the telephone speaker sound - modern technology offers aids which can fit on the back of the telephone’s headset and amplify the sound of the speaker. If you are suffering from moderate hearing loss and beyond, you will find these very helpful. There is also a wide range of amplified desk and cell phones for the hard of hearing which you might wish to consider if your hearing loss affects your day to day use of the phone.

4. Ask for a written interview instead - unlike a face to face job interview, the goal of the telephone interview is to assess basic compatibility for the job. Because employers will often make reasonable adjustments to meet your needs, you can consider asking for a written interview instead.

Face to Face Job Interview Tips For The Hearing Impaired:

6. Set the right environment - during the interview, you will find it very useful to watch the lips of the interviewer so you are able to read words. It will help if the room is well lit and if you position yourself opposite the interviewer.

7. Deal with missing words - everyone tends to miss words during a conversation and filling in words based on the overall conversation topic often works. Hearing disability is very common and if you find it difficult to hear during the interview, you should disclose your condition.

8. Increase your self confidence levels - attending a job interview when you are suffering from hearing loss, may reduce your self confidence. This might put at risk your ability to put forward your best qualities during the interview. You can use two strategies to

A. Your verbal content only provides some of the feedback the interviewer is getting from you so pay attention to body language. Basically, you would look to boast assertiveness, as opposed to reduced self confidence. Practicing in front of the mirror is the best method to prepare.

B. By far the best method to increase your self confidence before the interview is to do your homework before hand. You should prepare your notes, taking extra case to note down your achievements and how your experience will help the employer.

Good luck!

About the writer - article by the team at hearing aids vendor hearing direct. If you suspect you might be suffering from hearing loss, and you wish to find out more, read our guide to hearing.


The Career Dilemma – the perfect role in the wrong location

September 2010

When the jobs market is tough we naturally begin to widen the scope of our job search. Picture the scenario: you have been looking for a role for several months and the perfect opportunity arises. It is an ideal fit with your career plan, will give you excellent experience to take forward into your next role and the salary is competitive. Unfortunately there is a catch: you live with your family in rural Yorkshire and the job is in London.

For those with families and commitments, relocation can put an impossible strain on their domestic arrangements. Similarly, long distance commuting, even if it is viable, saps valuable energy and detracts from your quality of life. The last thing that any of us want is to find the dream job and then under-perform because we are worn out by traveling.

So do you turn down the ideal opportunity in favour of a “plod along” job close to home?  There are valid reasons why you might. For some of us responsibilities for children, parents or other family members or other commitments are more important than our careers at certain times.

There is an alternative which works extremely well for many professionals, namely Monday to Friday renting.  These people rent a room for the working week and enjoy a home-from-home where they can relax, cook and keep a few possessions. They can get ahead with their careers and return to their homes at the weekends.  With no lengthy commutes to worry about these “weekday lodgers” can concentrate on work, enjoy some leisure time and arrive home on a Friday night with energy to enjoy the weekend.

Could weekday renting be the solution to your next career dilemma?

[The above article was provided by mondaytofriday’s weekday rental service who offer people a “home-from-home” for the working week. If you need a place to stay for the working week or you would like to rent a room out from Monday to Friday to earn some extra cash, they have a specialist service to help you.]

Simply not enough jobs out there to get the jobless back to work!

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23/10/2010

The last statistics from the Government show that there was a quarterly increase in total employment. This was once again mainly driven by part-time workers, which increased by 143,000 on the quarter to reach 7.96 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992. There are 1.14 million employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job.

With the Government announcements this week potentially adding another 500,000 from the public sector  to the  ranks of the UK unemployed , I really wonder where this is going to go. The numbers keep rising but there is no way that enough new jobs can be created to keep up with the demand.  Recent reports in the press suggest that there are currently more than one in five people chasing every job in Britain.

The number of unemployed people fell by 20,000 over the last quarter to reach 2.45 million however, the number of job vacancies for the three months to September 2010 was 459,000, down 30,000 over the quarter.  A recent analysis by the IPPR think tank has cast doubt over the effectiveness of the coalition's flagship employment scheme by warning "there simply aren't enough jobs out there" to get the jobless back to work.

The IPPR study reports that the number of people unemployed for a year or more has doubled to 797,000 in the last two years, while the number of job vacancies has fallen creating a "jobs deficit"  which is likely to persist.

These new people being made redundant will presumably be from blue collar right through to white collar and very senior level in some cases.  Creating jobs is, I would assume, somewhat easier for blue collar roles but what about more senior positions ?  The number of unemployed senior managers and executives must be quite considerable by now. Creating more jobs at these levels for such people means we need to create many  more businesses or else these people will need to re-skill and move back to lower level jobs again which seems a great waste.

An unemployed friend of mine recently applied for a director position with a UK company. In the past, from my experience, I would expect to see perhaps 2 or 3 applications for positions at this level however, he told me that there were nearer 200 ! Clearly an indication of the high numbers of unemployed people at this level. It would be interesting to know exactly just how many there are in the UK, this currently does not appear to be recorded in Government statistics.

We already know that it is almost impossible to get any funding to help with retraining so that you can change to another field of work.  The axing of "Train to Gain", although for individuals it was no help in any case,  will make it even more difficult to retrain people.

This is really does need to be addressed by Government but I fear perhaps it is already too late.

Ask Louisa

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 22/10/2010

Telegraph's Jobs Editor Louisa PeacockI came across this today and thought it might be of some interest to our community.

The Telegraph's Jobs Editor Louisa Peacock has launched an agony-aunt style column offering advice to job seekers trying to navigate the labour market post-recession. Send your questions to asklouisa@telegraph.co.uk


NOMIS UK labour market statistics

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 8/9/2010

I came across a useful web site the other day that I wanted to share with you. Nomis is a service provided by the Office for National Statistics(ONS), to give you free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics from official sources. National and local area estimates for many labour market statistics, including employment, unemployment and claimant count, are available on the NOMIS website. You can enter your postcode and get the latest statistics for your area.

Government to scrap retirement age

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 8/8/2010

Following on from the recent Government proposal to increase the pension age from 65 to 66, there has been a lot in the press recently about the latest  proposal to scrap the retirement age entirely from 2011. Currently, staff can ask to stay on past 65 but employers are not compelled to abide by the request.

There seems to be a lot of different opinions as to whether this is a good idea or not.

The Government's reason for the proposal is apparently that many people are not saving enough for retirement and risk not having the income they would hope for if they retire at the "traditional" age of 65. By working for one year past the existing state retirement age, currently 60 for women and 65 for men, people can increase their retirement income by between 3% and 10%. The government says it wants to tackle age discrimination, but this move will also alleviate the burden on the state.

Anti-ageism campaigners seem to be very happy with the idea whereas industry and employers seem to be very against it. The more  cynical among us might think  that the move may be more about cutting back on pension costs for an ageing population than rights for the elderly.

CBI deputy director general John Cridland commented : ‘Scrapping the default retirement age will leave a vacuum and raise a large number of complex legal and employment questions, which the Government has not yet addressed.’ There would be ‘uncertainty among employers and staff’ who would not know where they stood, he added.

Ronnie Fox, of Fox Lawyers, said: ‘One unintended consequence is bound to be a major increase in disputes about whether a particular employee is indeed capable of carrying on working. 

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘It cannot be right that workers lose their protection against arbitrary dismissal overnight because of their age.’

Results of an online Daily Mail poll on the issue seems to suggest that the idea is quite popular.


Daily mail poll results 8-8-2010 regarding scrapping the retirement age in the UK from 2011


Clearly there needs to be some common sense  applied but if a person can still do the job, is healthy and willing then why not let them carry on rather than forcing them to retire ?

As pointed out previously in an earlier blog article "Work until you drop … if you can", the numbers of our older population are growing, unemployment is still growing, the number of over 50's long term unemployed is growing, pensions are not really adequate to live on and these people will  need to keep on working in order  to survive.

By 2034, 23 per cent of the population is projected to be aged 65.  If  they are still working, they will continue to be paying  taxes and National Insurance  rather than being dependent on the state  so this will surely take some of the strain off the already struggling pension and benefits system as well as contributing to the UK economy.

We live in world of change these days, if we don’t adapt, we will not survive.  We have to manage the changes and move on !


Read more:


Middle class unemployed failed by job centres, Government admits

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 17/7/2010

I recently came across this article entitled "Middle class unemployed failed by job centres, Government admits" that appeared on the Telegraph on-line back in February 2010.

I missed it at that time but I thought it quite interesting and still very topical. With the expenses scandal, the election and massive debt issues taking centre stage more recently, this topic has been forgotten so I think it worthwhile trying to raise awareness again.

The article stated that the Labour Government had admitted that Job Centre staff had been unprepared for the hundreds of thousands of middle class workers who have lost their jobs in the recession.

"A report published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found that centres were under-staffed, while new recruits lacked experience because they had not had enough training to deal with the unemployed.

It disclosed that job centre staff did not know enough to deal appropriately with middle class professionals who were newly out of work. It found they “lacked confidence in knowing who to offer services to”.

Those of you who have been through the process will, I am almost certain, agree that this is very true, I wonder to some extent if it is somewhat of an understatement in fact. This report also went on to state:

"The staff also felt that white collar workers who came to them did not need a great deal of advice, according to the report, “Job seekers Regime and Flexible New Deal”.

“A common view was that professional customers rarely needed help because they were highly motivated and already knew how to look for a job.”

I could agree that many white collar unemployed probably have better skills and experience than some others that frequent the job centres but they still need help, it is just a different kind of help ! The report already mentioned that the Job Centre staff didn't know how to handle this group of people so how can they make the assumption that they don't need any help?

Theresa May, the shadow Work and Pensions secretary at the time, said:

“Clearly many professionals who have fallen victim to Gordon Brown’s recession have been deserted by Labour.

“Ministers are clueless about how to deal with the white collar workers coming through the doors of job centres and staff haven’t been equipped with the skills to deal with their needs.

“Unless Ministers act now to help white collar workers we run the very real risk that thousands of professionals will become another forgotten statistic in this recession.”

Well, here we are, 5 months later with a new Government and the situation is no better. Clearly, the Conservative part of our Governement are aware of the problem but I have not seen or heard any mention of how they are going to resolve it.

With the country's major cut backs in expenditure, I fear Theresa May's statement will continue to be true. With no action, our White Collar Unemployed community will become an ever growing forgotten statistic. I am still a great believer that investment in these people could be creating jobs and helping this country to recover.

With the axing of Business Link and regional bodies like SEEDA there is going to be even less help for people to start up businesses. Even if LEP's are set up to take over some of the work of their predecessors, it is going to take some time to get them funded, set up and working. It could be too late for many.

We at least deserve some comment / reassurance on this topic from Government don't you think ?


More unemployment figures ...

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 14/7/2010

Well, another quarter has passed and yet another set of unemployment figures were released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Each time I look at them I find them a little confusing as the totals never seem to add up so it leaves you wondering just how realistic they are and, to some extent, whether this is deliberate.

From a spin point of view, I sure there will be great emphasis on the fact that the total unemployed has dropped slightly this quarter but you really need to look deeper.

The quarterly increase in total employment was mainly driven by part-time employees, which increased by 117,000 on the quarter to reach 6.63 million, and self-employment, which rose by 59,000.

UK unemployment figure changes march to may 2010

The average weekly hours worked is falling with the average for all workers now being 31.5 hours. There is still a clear indication that there is a continuation in people not being able to find / keep full time employment so they have to take part time employment instead. Also, it would seem reasonable to assume the continuation of the trend where more partners of those losing their jobs are taking on part time roles in order to try and make up the shortfall in houshold incomes.

I am also sure that many people, like myself, came to the end of JSA and went self employed and decided to try and start their own businesses as they could not find other work which might explain the rising numbers in this area.

If you look into the ONS data in a bit more detail, you can see the longer term data which shows that long term unemployment is on the increase still.

total UK unemployed figures July 2010 - all working age and duration

A further look at the trend I have mentioned in previous articles regarding the over 50's sector of the workforce shows again another increase in the numbers, continuing the trend.

UK unemployment figures - July 2010 - over 50's agegroup

With all the cut backs in funding and the resulting job losses from this, which will add to the unemployed numbers, I think the future still looks bleak for quite some time.

Take a look at the ONS unemployment figures report yourself.


Work until you drop … if you can

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 27/6/2010

You will have heard in the news this week about the Government bringing forward plans for raising the retirement age to 66.

I can understand that everyone is living longer  and the need for people to work for longer and pay taxes to feed the funds but I wonder if this has been fully thought through and if the Government have once again underestimated just how big a problem this is going to be. I suspect this is yet another problem that they are very well aware of and have inherited from their predecessors.

If you are regular reader of my blog, you will remember on a number of occasions that I have expressed my concern about the growing number of over 50's who are long term unemployed. If these people can’t get into jobs now, what chance do they stand of getting into a job when they are 66 or even older as the retirement age gradually increases !

Another issue will also be if they are capable of continuing to work at that age (e.g. in manual labour jobs). What are the chances that they would be able to re-train and change jobs at that age ?

Ageing UK population statistics - ONS June 2010Official figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the population of the UK is ageing. Over the last 25 years the percentage of the population aged 65 and over increased from 15 per cent in 1984 to 16 per cent in 2009, an increase of 1.7 million people. Over the same period, the percentage of the population aged under 16 decreased from 21 per cent to 19 per cent. This trend is projected to continue. By 2034, 23 per cent of the population is projected to be aged 65 and over compared to 18 per cent aged under 16.

What incentive is there for employers to keep on ageing staff ? Whatever the official line is, ageism is rife,  many people over 50 have experienced this and I really can’t see it getting better.

The numbers of our older population are growing, unemployment is still growing, the number of over 50's long term unemployed is growing, pensions are not really adequate to live on and these people will  need to keep on working to survive.

I feel another major problem is on its way. This needs addressing now !


What's your big idea ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 27/6/2010

The Big Idea’ event in Portsmouth is intended to stimulate ideas from local people, from whatever background, to see if any can be turned into money-spinners and help generate local jobs.

It takes place from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday 30th June at the Buckland Community Centre in Malins Road, Portsmouth with workshops and guided tours of the Technopole.

See here for more details about The Big Idea event.

Doleberts return

Dolebert, White Collar Unemployed 27-6-2010

In the last few weeks my good friend Steve has been dropping less and less subtle hints for a return of Dolebert’s Diary. The idea for the diary came from conversations with Steve; I remember telling him that I’d started a personal diary as therapy and to have a record of my experience to look back on. A few days later Steve suggested I publish extracts onto White Collar Unemployed as it could help others who were in the same situation as me.

The diary turned out to be pretty popular and did appear to help others but when I finished it I figured it had served its purpose and hopefully helped others with similar problems. As my lot started to improve I would talk to Steve about what I’d learned from the experience and how I was using it to turn myself around. This is when Steve started to talk about the return of Dolebert and how these things I’d learned could also help as much if not more than the original diary.

So, thanks to Steve, Dolebert’s back... I haven’t planned what to write or how often but I hope you do find it helpful in some way and of course we would love to hear from you.

Take a look now at Dolebert's Diary.

No funding for training for the unemployed

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 20/6/2010

I recently received an email from one of our community who has been out of work for 17 months telling me about his difficulties he was having in finding funding to allow him to gain some further professional qualifications to help him get back to work in the IT sector.

He had been asking about financial help with course fees at his local job centre, the Educational Grant Advisory Service and the Flexible New Deal provider (Standguide Ltd) . but they had all told him that no help is available.

I ran into exactly the same situation myself trying to find funding for training, or retraining to work in a different field of work in my case. There are some very basic training courses on offer from the Government but nothing it seems for anything more useful, certainly not for professional qualifications like Microsoft Certifications.

In the South East, there are a number of local colleges offering free training for job seekers and I recently came a cross a 12 page free newspaper called "Up to speed" which presented a lot of details about these courses which was published by the Learning and Skills Council. Unfortunately, I cannot find a web site for "Up to speed". Another web site I found that may be of interest is the Skills Funding Agency.

The free training offered generally doesn't seem to include more sophisticated topics like Microsoft Certifications. There are many training companies out there who can offer these courses but they are quite expensive (typically a few thousand pounds per course) which usually means if you are unemployed you can't afford to fund it. I personally signed up for one such course a while ago and got ripped off (see my recent blog article) so take care if you choose to go down this route.

After a bit of research, my solution was to go with self study. Most of the Microsoft books are available from Amazon for around £25 each.

For example, for the Microsoft Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) certification, I believe you need to pass both the 70-271  and 70-272 exams.

Microsoft have a Training Kit (book) for each of these which are very comprehensive.

Microsoft MCDST 70-271 training kit Microsoft MCDST 70-272 training kit

You can work through the books at your own speed and once you are ready, you can apply to take the exam. There are local testing centres across the country where you can sit the exam, details are on the Microsoft web site.

Some other useful links:



UK forcing employers to re-advertise all jobs occupied by temporary visitors ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 20/6/2010

If you have been following our Readers Letters page you will have seen a recent addition asking "is there a good argument for the UK forcing employers to re-advertise all jobs occupied by temporary visitors from the likes of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (ANZAS) on their jollies once unemployment goes over a certain level?"

I actually have a South African friend who was teaching over here in the UK for a while and whose job had to be advertised again as he was told that it had to be offered to UK citizen first before they could consider renewing his contract. It appears therefore that there is already some legislation in the UK that covers this, at least in the teaching profession. I wonder if it extends to other professions ?

Entrepreneurs: powering job creation in the UK

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 10/6/2010

I came across a special report written by Ernst & Young's ITEM Club in May (2010) which adds weight to my argument about the benefits of investing in those with experience so that they can start businesses. The report states in the executive summary:

"The UK's economic recovery will be spearheaded by entrepreneurs. With employment in the public sector set to shrink as the government seeks to restore its finances, the jobs created by entrepreneurs will be vital to reducing unemployment.

In the economic upturn between 2005 and 2008, the 6% of established companies who were fastest growing created 1.3 million jobs, more than half of the new jobs created in established businesses. It is not unusual for such companies to be able to triple their workforces over a three year period. ..." read the full report

Another recent report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) raises concerns that Government spending cuts will push UK unemployment up from its current 2.5million to almost 3million.

The report also states that deficit reduction would also stall recovery in the jobs market, and that there was little prospect of real wage growth until at least 2015, and public sector workers faced pay cuts.

On the BBC News today, it was reported that the CIPD had also revised their estimates of public sector job cuts to around 700,000 which is much higher than they originally forecast.

An employment expert said cuts in public spending made the outlook "bleak" for individuals and communities already suffering the greatest hardship.

More indications that it is going to get worse before it gets better - and it could last a long while.

GB Job Clubs

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 29/5/2010

I have made some interesting contacts this week. I received another email the other day from Chris Neal telling me about GB Jobs Clubs.

Chris runs three voluntary Job Clubs in Edenbridge, Oxted and Richmond and with colleagues, has set up GB Job Clubs a charity to resource and train others to run job clubs.

There are now 28 clubs in their network and more in development. He also runs the Jericho Programme a finance and mentoring project to help people set up their own ventures.

Their web site includes a Job Club Directory - if you would like to add details of other job clubs to the directory there is link on that page to do so.

On their "About" page, they mention some interesting statistics.

"30 per cent of those who lose their jobs find another one through friends, family or social networks. Only 10 per cent of people find employment through Jobcentre Plus. ‘Who you know’ still counts. Job Clubs will help enhance individuals’ social networks and give them much needed motivation and support during difficult times."

Readers of my blog will know that I am a great beliver in job clubs and what they can do. Why not go along and join one near you or if there isn't one in your area, why not start one - you know where to go for help and advice on how to do so now.

I have added a link to GB Job Clubs on our WCU Useful Links page so you can find it easily in future.

Keep up the good work Chris and I wish you and your colleagues every success with GB Job Clubs !

Tell your story in a film

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 29/5/2010

I had a really interesting telephone call with the director of "Big Shoulder" yesterday and I wanted to share the following information with our community as I think it could be of great interest. I am sure there are many of you that have lots of experiences to share that would be of great help to others in similar situations and of course it would also help raise awareness of the issues we are still facing and reassure you that you are not alone out there.

Big Shoulder Films logoBig Shoulder is a social enterprise and was set up by two ex BBC documentary makers in the Summer of 2009. They are setting up a community website where people can share their experiences of life events and emotions through the medium of film.

People can both listen to other people's problems and learn from their solutions and insights. They in turn can share their own situation with other users, by uploading their own films or joining discussion forums on the topics on the website.

They have recently won an UnLtd grant to make films with unemployed people to put up on the website and they are looking for people who would like to share their experiences  with others and may look to the website for support. This grant means that they will be able to film people for the site and they are looking for people especially now from the white collar sector, to make the website as useful as possible to the broadest audience.

Trust, respect and understanding are key to the success of the films and the website. They would like to be able to talk to as many as people as possible about their project, so that people who want to be filmed do so from a position of confidence and knowledge that they are sharing something unique about themselves that may be of help to others in a similar situation.

The filming would compromise of a straightforward, relaxed interview based on your experiences in a small studio setting. An interview would last no more than half an hour and would be cut down to a length of approximately 5 minutes.

Take a look at their web site at www.bigshoulder.com and you can see some example film snippets. Also have a think of what experiences or advice you could share that would help others or alternatively what it is that you would like other to help you with.

For more details, please contact Nicola Gibson (Director)at nicola@bigshoulder.co.uk

I have also added a link to their site from our WCU useful links page so that you can find it easily in future when you need it.

On-line training courses

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23/5/2010

Some time ago, I decided to learn some new skills so that I could move into a new field of work. I signed up with a distance learning company in the UK for what can only be described as a "rip off" course.

The course comprised of 3 weeks (about 1.5 hours a day) of extremely poor on-line video material which sounded like it had been recorded in someones bedroom - there was even a car sounding its horn outside on one of them. The videos were, I subsequently discovered, basically this company's version of the Microsoft training videos (I found an extract of Microsoft's course material on-line which was identical). They told me there was no printed course material provided to go with their company's videos (Microsoft do provide this with their version).

The training company did send me a mighty tome of a Microsoft Certification course book to read and self study for the following 3 weeks and then I was expected to sit the Microsoft Certification exam. I was not allowed to proceed to the next stage until I had passed the first exam and they would not provide any further material for the following parts either. The cost of the Microsoft self study books is around £25 to £30.

Reading the pre-requisites for the Microsoft book, it enlightened me that the certification course was aimed at professionals who had been working full time in the industry for at least 2 years! This was not even mentioned before I signed up for the course and in fact it had been explicitly stated that no previous experience or knowledge was necessary for the course.

After some further investigation on my part, I discovered to make things worse that Microsoft were discontinuing the qualification a few months later which would be around the time that this training company were expecting me to have completed the course.

I am not afraid of hard work or studying, but I thought the quality of the material was extremely amateurish and the timescales that the training company were imposing were totally unrealistic. The fact that the qualification would be superceded by the time I finished concerned me so I asked them if it was possible to change to do the new replacement Microsoft course (which is what Microsoft suggested would be my best option at that time when I asked them). They told me they did not support the new course so it was not possible. I asked for my money back (more than £2000) but they declined.

To cut a long story short, I gave up and wrote it off and have been very wary of on-line training courses since. I have spent a lot less money since then on my own books and have learnt a lot by self study since that time.

I just came across a BBC "Your Money" report which highlights a sharp rise of complaints about distance learning courses.

BBC Your Money report on distance learning course complaints

Be warned ! Make sure you do you a lot of background research before you sign up with any of these training companies.

"Careless" spending by Labour

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23/5/2010

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, launched a fierce attack on the BBC's Andrew Marr show today on what he said was "careless" spending by Labour in its final months, saying they made "extraordinary commitments...which they knew they could not honour".

I think the promised special support for our White Collar Unemployed workers was one of those commitments. At long last, someone in authority realises the situation we have been in - I wonder what they can do to improve it ?

Sink or swim ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23/5/2010

I have to apologise for my lack of recent articles on this blog and other additions on the WCU web site. As past visitors to this site will know, since I had had no luck in finding a job in more than 6 months of job hunting and I could no longer claim any JSA, I decided to start my own business a few months ago.

Like many others of our community in the same predicament, I had reached the point of "sink or swim". It seemed to me to be far more constructive to spend my time trying to find customers and my own work so that I could generate some income rather  than trawling through job sites and filling in more and more applications, that I almost certainly new would be yet another waste of time, and result in me getting more and more disillusioned and despondent.

After having worked for most of my career for large multinational companies and always having that "safety net" of job security (if there is such a thing these days) and a regular monthly salary , starting your own business is quite scary. Any help and advice you can get to help you get going and grow your business is therefore most welcome. I have found the support offered by Business Link and other local development agencies in my area to be extremely useful.

In my particular area (Hampshire), my local Business Link have, over the last few months, put on a lot of extremely useful seminars and events with top class presenters  that have been absolutely brilliant . Two major events , "Meet Greet & Prosper" presented by Roy Sheppard and "Marketing Magic" with Christian Wenczka of Succinct Solutions were amazingly successful.

Since I have been attending these numerous events in my area, I have met a lot of people, all who face similar issues and who are searching for answers. One important thing I have learnt is that if you try and go it alone, you are more likely to fail. Working together with other local business people who face the same sort of problems, you can help each other to succeed.

For example, I have already built up a network of friends with businesses that offer complimentary services to my own which means that together we can offer our clients a much broader range of services.  Being able to recommend other businesses who you know and trust to your clients is a definite advantage as these days, how do you know who you can trust or if they are reliable. The best you can get is  "word-of-mouth" recommendation.

Now we have our new government and this massive national debt to reduce, I fear that it is almost certain that a lot of this really useful help and assistance for small businesses and start-ups is going to disappear.

I read recently in an article that BBC political correspondent Carole Walker said savings at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills would mean "significant cuts" to regional development agencies in the south of England.

In a BBC summary of the Lib-Lab/Con policies, I noticed a statement under the business section that indicates there are plans for  "creation of Local Enterprise Partnerships to replace Regional Development Agencies ".

I am also aware already of a fairly major re-organisation of my local Business Link which I understand will already reduce the number of local events being held in the future.

I have not seen any details so far about how our new coalition government plans to tackle the issues of  unemployment but with predictions of job cuts on TV this morning of up to 700,000 in the public sector as part of the first attempts to cut the national debt, it seems clear it is going to get worse before it gets better.

One glimmer of hope perhaps is a statement under the "Jobs and Welfare" section of the government policy summary where it mentions the introduction of a "Work for Yourself" scheme, to help start-up businesses with loans and advice from mentors. As I have mentioned before on this blog, investment in older, very experienced unemployed people could be a great help in developing new businesses and creating new jobs.

The announcements this coming week from our new government regarding the first steps to cutting our country's debts and the start of our road to recovery may give us more detail and hopefully encouragement.


Are the over 50's becoming the new lost generation ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, April 2010

Well here we go again. Another set of ONS unemployment data was released on the 21st April and it again shows that things are not getting any better.

They report that the numbers claiming JSA are down again by a further 32,900 and that this is the 4th drop in 5 months.  However, again we see that the number of unemployed has actually increased  by another 43,000 and the number of people unemployed for more than twelve months increased by 89,000 over the quarter to reach 726,000.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have mentioned my concerns on several occasions about the over 50's sectors and long term unemployment. These numbers continue to grow as you can see in the graph below. 

UK over 50's unemployment figures - April 2010

Ref: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/lmsuk0410.pdf

The latest figures show a further  increase of 21,000 in the over 50s who have been unemployed for more than a year, taking the total to 143,000 in this quarter, up 16.9 per cent on the previous quarter and 34.2 per cent on the year.  The total of over 50's unemployed is currently 396,000.

In a report in the Mail online this week, Yvette Cooper, Labour's Work and Pensions Secretary, was reported as saying:

"These figures show just how vital it is to keep up support for jobs and the economy this year until the recovery is secure."

 So just who exactly is getting this support ?  From my experience, and the reports on our letters page and blog will support this, it seems it is not the white collar unemployed or the over 50's.

In an article on Telegraph online this week, they mentioned that Theresa May, shadow work and pensions secretary, said:

“The huge surge in long term unemployment shows how Labour’s policies to tackle unemployment just aren’t working. Labour have left our welfare system largely unreformed for the past 13 years, the tragedy is now that it cannot offer enough support, for all those desperate for a job.

“A Conservative government will ensure that no one is left behind. Those at risk of long term unemployment will get personalized support faster and for longer through our Work Programme to ensure they don’t fall victim to the revolving door of welfare dependency.”

Bold words and promises  but I seem to remember hearing very similar statements from our current  Labour government not so long ago and who have, as pointed out above, failed to deliver. How do we know the Conservatives would not do the same to us again ? The words above state "those at risk of long term unemployment", what about those that are already in this situation ?

On many occasions you will have heard our Government saying that they need to support the 18 to 24 year olds to make sure they do not become another forgotten generation. A statement I wholeheartedly agree with but what about the older members of our community. All these groups of people need help, we cannot help one at the cost of the other which seems to be the case currently as there is not enough funding.

Most of our older white collar unemployed community are the people with many years of experience and skills who have the knowledge needed to train up the younger people so why are we not making use of this ?

I remember reading many times over the last few years  that there are not enough young people obtaining the skills needed for the future  so this means that there will be a need for the older skilled people to keep working longer.  However, if we are increasingly losing many of these skilled people from the ranks of the employed now, it would seem this is yet another big problem that will impact us in the future.

Many unemployed WCUs are living off their savings, money they have worked hard for and saved for their retirement . If they are having to spend this money now, what are they going to do when they retire ? Another disaster waiting to happen.

It seems to me the general Government strategy is to find ways to delay the problem rather than find a solution.  They come up with some grand ideas, make statements that they are going to do this, that and the other, then when they  try to implement it, or eventually get around to analyse it properly,  they realise they have totally underestimated the situation and cannot afford to fund it so they conveniently forget about it and hope it goes away.

With  the state of our economy and the large Government debts, it must be almost certain that funds will be cut so I guess that any help for the unemployed will not go unaffected.

Presumably this will also knock on before long  to funding for bodies like Business Link, Enterprise First, Innovation and Growth and other similar organisations who have been a very important source of help for small businesses and start-ups in local areas and elsewhere across the UK.

Are we spiralling out of control I wonder ?


White Collar Unemployed "Readers Letters"

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 9/4/2010

From time to time, I receive emails from members of our White Collar Unemployed community telling me about their experiences and frustrations as a result of becoming unemployed.

Many of them have expressed a wish to share these experiences with our community in case it might help others so I have just added a new White Collar Unemployed "Readers Letters" page just for this purpose.

It would be great if more of you could contribute; share your experiences and stories. Maybe you have been through a similar situation and can give some advice on how to resolve it. Perhaps you have some ideas that you need help with - there are a lot of us out there with many years of experience in many different fields of work, we can help each other.

"Building bridges to work: new approaches to tackling long-term worklessness"

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 5/4/2010

A new document outlining the Governments plans to tackle long-term unemployment, or "worklessness" as they now seem to be calling it, was realeased in March. It is a 57 page document and I haven't had time to read it yet but will in due course.

There is a foreword by Yvette Cooper MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions which makes a few bold statements to get things started including:

"Everyone should have the opportunity to work and to thrive in their job...

...But we need to go further. Radical reform of welfare and employment support is even
more important as we come out of recession to tackle the legacy of the past, and to
prevent long term worklessness in future...

... Building Bridges sets out how we will press ahead with the major reforms that are
already underway, but also how we will go further with new rights and more
responsibilities to get more people back to work."

I reserve my comments until I have read it.The document is available in PDF format for download at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/building-bridges-to-work.pdf

Interviewee wanted by Reuters Television


I'm a London-based producer for Reuters Television, an international news agency supplying broadcast news to most major TV channels worldwide.

I am putting together a feature on issues surrounding the upcoming general election and am keen to find someone who has lost their job in the recession and is having difficulty in finding a new one.

We would like to interview someone who fits this description as part of our UK Election coverage and features on the issues that matter to the voter.

Many thanks in advance

Georgina Cooper

Television Reporter/Producer
Thomson Reuters


Unemployment down again ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, March 2010

Another month and another set of unemployment figures released with headlines once again pronouncing a fall in unemployment for the third month in a row.

Again, you need to look at the data in more detail. The number of unemployed people fell by 33,000 over the quarter and the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (the claimant count) decreased by 32,300 between January and February 2010.

There don't appear to be any figures showing how many of those  people came off the JSA list because they were no longer eligible for JSA  or if it was because they actually found a job or if they were forced down the route of going self employed as there was no other option.

More figures show that the number of people in full-time employment fell by 54,000 on the quarter to reach 21.16 million but the number of people in part-time employment was unchanged (at 7.70 million). Where did these 54000 people go ? All retired maybe ?

There were 1.04 million employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a fulltime job, up 20,000 on the quarter but the figures above say that part-time employment was unchanged.

The number of inactive people of working age increased by 149,000 over the quarter to reach a record high of 8.16 million. This could explain some of the differences - it could mean that a lot of people have given up claiming JSA and given up looking for jobs.

The trend for the number of people unemployed for more than 12 months continued to increased by 61,000 over the quarter to reach 687,000, the highest figure since the three months to August 1997 and among the over-50s, joblessness rose by 14,000 to 398,000.

Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper was quoted in the media as saying:

"The fall in unemployment for the third month in a row is very welcome, but we should remain cautious.

"We're not out of the woods yet and we are still determined to do more to support jobs and help the unemployed this year.

"However, now is not the time to cut back on support for jobs. We know things will be difficult for some time, and unemployment in the 80s and 90s rose for years after the recessions finished.

"That is why we plan to increase help to get people back into jobs this year, not cut it back, so we can support the jobs of the future."

Bold words once again but is this just more spin or perhaps our Government are at last waking up to the reality of the situation ? I think Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesman,  made some good points when he commented :

"… the number of [economically inactive] people who have just given up, that is a real concern."

 "The priority for an incoming government is to create new jobs, worthwhile jobs, not training the unemployed for jobs that don't exist."

Providing training (if you can get it) gives the impression that the Government are doing something but it just delays the effects and does not fix the problem.

A closing comment; how about providing some additional statistics that show how many people actually got into new jobs as well so we can see a clearer picture of the situation ?


Wanted - Portsmouth based, unemployed executives

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 8/3/2010

Are you an unemployed executive who lives in the heart of Portsmouth?

Hampshire based training company, Open Door Training will be delivering their renowned two day executive support workshop that has now got a tremendous reputation across the South East of England for delivering results.  For the first time they are able to deliver this training in Portsmouth.

The two day workshop will help with:

  • Transferrable skills from one employment sector to another
  • Increase your networking opportunities to gain the jobs that are never advertised
  • Production of a CV that will get you noticed

There are only a limited number of places available for this course unfortunately so you will need to be quick to sign up. More details are on our Opportunities page.

Organisations, clubs, self help groups etc. in the North East ?

From time to time I receive some very interesting emails and questions from members of our community across the UK. I recently received the following one which I would like to share with you.

I strongly suspect I am not alone in this situation however I would like to take a few lines to explain and perhaps draw on the experience of others who may be in a similar situation.

I am 56 and last March I was made redundant by a company who had been hard hit by the recession. I had held several senior management posts (up to Director level) with previous employers.

Due to my own arrogance / pride / stupidity (choose the appropriate one) I did not 'sign on' immediately as I thought that (a) I would not be entitled to any benefits (having followed Mr. Brown's advice and been prudent and saved) and (b) that the local Jobcentre would probably not be much help.

When eventually I did visit the Jobcentre I was told that I could not claim jobseekers allowance because (a) I had too much in savings and (b) even if I hadn't because I delayed my signing on for some 9 months my 'stamp' was now in arrears and was not entitled. 

It is now approaching 12 months out of work and despite applying for some 400 + roles I am either told that (a) you have too much experience for this role (i.e. you are too old) or that "other candidates have a closer match to our requirements", either may well be true but that doesn't make it any easier to bear.

Not only have I applied for jobs within my experience (technical / engineering sales) but I have also tried for jobs that typically would be advertised in the jobcentre or the local papers again without success.

To date I have found government agencies e.g. the Jobcentre to be a complete waste of time. Once they find out you are not claiming, or entitled to claim benefits they are not the slightest bit interested as you as finding you a job would not impact on 'the jobless figures' and as such they would presumably receive no recognition from their paymasters. 

It would be interesting to find out how many of us 'invisible unemployed' there are. In the main they probably consist of people like me who have worked hard for the majority of their lives, held responsible positions, have savings, paid our taxes and have never relied on the state for any handouts. 

What a mistake that has turned out to be. In my own small town in the North East I know of people who do not work and have no intention of doing so. They know all the wrinkles and how to get money for doing nothing either by claiming they are ill or, for the younger ones breeding children with no visible means of supporting them.

Having finished my rant my question is this. Are there any organisations, clubs, self help groups etc. in the North East where people like me can go or just get together to see what we can do to get work?


The sender wanted to remain anonymous but if you have any responses, I can forward them on to him or maybe share them via this blog. Many thanks for the contribution.

I fear that this is quite a typical situation for many of our community in the UK, particularly to the over 50's. I can certainly relate to it myself from my recent experiences.

UK unemployment - the problems are far from over

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 17/2/2010

The latest National Statistics Office (NSO) unemployment figures released today, for the quarter ending December 2009, show a fall of 3,000 to 2.46 million.

However, the number of people in full-time employment also fell by 37,000 and those in part-time employment increased by 25,000. This means here are now around 1.04 million employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job.

The number of people unemployed for more than 12 months increased again by 37,000 over the quarter to reach 663,000, the highest figure since the three months to September 1997.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance hit a 12-year high increasing by 23,500 between December 2009 and January 2010, reversing the trend seen over the preceding two months. Economists had expected the claimant count to fall by 10,000 in January as the UK economy struggled out of recession, after falling in November and December.

The BBC TV news reported today also that there are many people in the UK who have taken pay / hours reductions in order to prevent redundancies.

The TUC has warned that the UK jobs market looks "deceptively healthy" because of an increase in the number of people having to settle for part-time work.

More redundancies are expected this week. 1600 jobs in the steelworking industry on Teeside are expected to be announced this week and the British arm of Reader’s Digest filed for administration today and put 117 jobs at risk.

With so many people having reduced household incomes, this must at some point have some impact on the high street spending and the UK economy so I think there are still problems ahead - I don’t think we are really out of the recession yet.

We need to be creating more full time jobs if we are to fix the problems.


Who wants to be an Entrepreneur ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 24/1/2010

I first mentioned this topic in my blog at the beginning of December but following on from that, I was very pleased to be asked to do a talk at their PIPEline course dinner to recount my experience of redundancy, unemployment and starting up a business.

PIPEline is a unique 5-day course for ideas-stage entrepreneurs. The Portsmouth Centre for Enterprise and Business Link, are running the course over two weekends in January and culminating in a final pitching event (a bit like Dragons Den apparently), in February.

It is targeted at anyone who has a degree and who is currently unemployed, who has been made redundant or is in danger of redundancy, who aims to use unemployment as an opportunity to start their own business.

The aim of the course is to:

  • Develop and focus your entrepreneurial ideas
  • Discover if an entrepreneurial venture is right for you
  • Network with other ideas-stage entrepreneurs
  • Meet and hear from entrepreneurs who have already done it
  • Pitch to providers of incubation, start-up finance and business mentoring

The delegates I met seemed to be very enthusiastic and motivated with lots of great ideas for new businesses. I wish them all good luck and hope very much that this is just the first of many PIPEline courses.

Quicklinks: richard.sant@port.ac.uk, Portsmouth Centre for Enterprise (PCE), PIPEline

Job Prospector - 50% discount

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23-1-2010

At the beginning of December I mentioned in this blog the "Job Prospector" software from CodePro.

Job Prospector is an easy to use computer program that handles the potentially large amounts of information that people can generate when job searching. The new release has even more features to help people manage their job hunting activities.

This month (January), they have released a new version and to celebrate, they are offering the first 50 customers a 50% discount so you might be able to get Job Prospector for just £12.50 (plus VAT). Even at the full price, it is still a very useful tool.

Good news, unemployment on the fall at last - or is it ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23-1-2010

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported this week (20th January) that unemployment figures have dropped by 7000 in November, a good sign one might think but if you look a bit deeper, it might not be as good as it looks.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in December 2009 fell by 15,200. This is the second consecutive monthly fall in the claimant count and the largest monthly fall since April 2007.

In my last blog article, I mentioned that there had been a big increase in people taking part time jobs because they could not find full time employment. Growth in the number of part-time jobs may prevent the total jobless figures rising but it does not mean the situation is improving.

The data shows 1.03 million employees and self-employed people are working part-time because they could not find a full-time job. This is the highest figure since records for this series began in 1992 and it is up 46,000 on the quarter.

The figures are apparently being driven by women finding part-time jobs while many men are losing full-time ones. It is unlikely that growth in part time jobs can go on indefinitely. Figures show that in the last quarter, full-time employment fell by 113,000 to 21.2 million, while part-time employment only increased by 99,000 to 7.7 million.

Apparently, there was also an increase in the number of people in the labour force who are neither working nor looking for work, resulting in the inactivity total rising above 8 million. The rise was largely driven by an increase of 81,000 in the number of students not looking for work.

The latest figures again showed that the number of people unemployed for more than 12 months increased by 29,000 over the quarter to reach 631,000 (an increase of another 11,000 from the TUC figures mentioned in my last blog article).

Other ONS data shows that the proportion of working-age households in the UK in which no-one was in work increased to 16.9 per cent (the equivalent of 3.3 million households) in the 12 months to Q2 2009.

Presumably households where the main wage earner has lost their full time job and instead they, or their partner perhaps, have had to take a part-time job instead, means a lower income for those households than they were getting previously.

Research by Bright Grey (see article "Redundant Brits will struggle to survive") found that nearly 40 per cent of Britons could not survive for more than one month if faced with redundancy. This must mean that these unfortunate people will have to cut back dramatically on their spending so it will in time have some impact on the economy which is not going to help recovery from recession.

One of the indicators of the end of a recession is that unemployment figures stop rising. If the data above is correct, then it would seem that we still have a way to go before many people in this country see any improvement.

Is unemployment really improving in the UK ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 3-1-2010

There have been a number of what could be considered as "encouraging" headlines about UK unemployment in the media over the last few weeks.

Unemployment on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) measure rose by 21,000 in the three months to October but still remained below the 2.5 million mark at 2.491 million. However, unemployment figures showed a slight reduction in November.

There are a number of reports that seem to agree that unemployment may not be as high as expected in 2010 with the latest predictions that it will peak at 2.8 million.

Statistics show that 55% of new claimants are leaving the Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) register within three months and 73% within six months which is apparently only fractionally lower than in normal times.

Sounds like things are improving doesn’t it, but I keep wondering if this is just another convenient interpretation of the statistics.

There has been a big increase in the number of new start-up businesses in the UK and lots of people are taking part time jobs because they can't find full time employment. Economists say a big shift to part-time jobs or cuts in hours has helped prevent unemployment rising as far or as fast as in previous recessions. For example, a surge in the number of women taking part-time jobs has helped employment in Britain to jump by its biggest amount since spring last year apparently.

All the above gets people off the Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) register and gives the impression that the unemployed figures are reducing but it doesn’t change the fact that there are still a lot of people out there struggling to survive !

Declaring yourself as self employed means that you are taken off the JSA (£64.30) and put onto Self Employed credit (£50) for 16 weeks (£800 in total tax free) and then you are on your own without further entitlement to other benefits you may have been getting.

16 weeks is not long to get a business up and running and making a profit. Usually it means taking out business loans (more debt) to fund the start-up phase so those who go down this route can often be worse off than they were before for a time at least. The only consolation is that they feel they are doing something positive to help themselves get out of their predicament.

I believe this is becoming a common feeling these days as many become more and more frustrated and disillusioned that they are not getting anywhere with job hunting.

A TUC report released just before Christmas indicates that long-term unemployment has doubled. Those claiming JSA for more than 12 months rose to 201,015 in November 2009, up from 103,930 in December 2008. The total number of people out of work for more than a year increased by 49,000 in the latest quarter (to October) to 620,000.

The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work was 952,000 in the three months to October, a quarterly rise of 6,000. Clearly, this situation isn’t improving.

In a previous blog article , I also pointed out another worrying trend that the number of people over 50 not being able to get back into jobs has steadily been getting worse over the last decade.

Gordon Brown said again this morning on the Andrew Marr show on BBC1 TV that the UK unemployment figures are lower in the UK than in other countries. So what ! How does this help an unemployed person with the bailiffs or debt collectors banging on their door. They need jobs !

Short term unemployment may be on the mend hopefully but I fear that long term unemployment and employment for the young 16 to 24-year olds is not going to improve for some considerable time, if ever for some.

Happy New year !

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 1/1/2010

For many of us, 2009 was an absolute disaster of a year, our "Annus horribilis", and one that we might well want to forget and put behind us.

Our WCU community has grown and we are getting more visitors each month which I hope will continue. Hopefully you have found our web site of interest and of some help. I want to continue to grow our community and raise awareness of the White Collar Unemployed situation in the UK and I will continue to develop the web site in 2010.

I would very much appreciate your help along the way so please help to spread the word, bookmark us (e.g. delicious, stumbleupon etc), forward a link to your friends, colleagues, local or national media, your local government, MP or anyone you think might be interested. Follow us on Twitter - WCUUK.

If you want to contribute something to our blog, or come across an interesting article or some helpful information that you want to share, just drop me an email.

Hopefully, 2010 is going to be the turning point and a better year so I wish you all good luck for a happy and prosperous year ahead.

Good luck !


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Dolebert's diary updates

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 22/12/2009

Dolebert has just sent me his latest updates for his diary so I have added them to the site today. This last year has been a massive roller coaster ride for Dolebert, as you will know if you have been following his diary page, but at long last, maybe things are turning around for him. Inspiration for us all so get yourself a coffee and start reading from 9th October 2009 upwards !

Twitter yourself a job

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 10/12/2009

TwitterJobSearch is a product of WorkDigital Ltd and is powered by twitter.com using the Twitter API. With nearly 400,000 fresh jobs listed currently, it is one of the World's Largest Job Boards apparently now carrying more jobs than Totaljobs and Jobsite put together. They boast that you can apply for roles through TwitterJobSearch before they are advertised on any job board. Worth a try I think !

Job Prospector program does the work for jobseekers

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 5/12/2009 (from article from Western Morning News, Sept 2009)

A software developer has launched a product aimed at job seekers, inspired by his own experience during a period of unemployment. Lionel Potter's Job Prospector is a desk top program which enables users to organise their job search activities.

The software enables people looking for work to catalogue job vacancies, applications, replies and contact names and numbers into a working database.

Job Prospector is not a job search program - it is the first personal employment information management system to be available for individuals to download to their own PC and use to get an advantage.

It aims to simplify a process which can become confused when dealing with numerous recruitment agency staff, tailoring CV's to be job-specific and keeping track of the latest opportunities.

Job Prospector also generates an activity report which can be printed by clients as proof of job searches while they are unemployed.

The software is being sold via the company's website, www.codepro.co.uk, and the firm is also in discussions with JobCentre Plus, the Connexions Service, A4e and the Shaw Trust to provide the £20 Job Prospector for their job-ready clients.

The company also has its sights on attracting corporate clients who might offer the software as part of their redundancy packages.

CodePro is also providing free "how to" guides from its website to help users make the most of the software.

Who wants to be an Entrepreneur ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 4/12/2009

15 free places are available on a unique 5-day course for ideas-stage entrepreneurs early in 2010.

The course, run by The Portsmouth Centre for Enterprise and Business Link, will run over two weekends in January and culminate in a final pitching event in February.

Applications are invited from candidates considering self employment as a career route.


  • Develop and focus your entrepreneurial ideas
  • Discover if an entrepreneurial venture is right for you
  • Network with other ideas-stage entrepreneurs
  • Meet and hear from entrepreneurs who have already done it
  • Pitch to providers of incubation, start-up finance and business mentoring
See our opportunities page for more details


Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 4/12/2009

Channel 4 logo

  •  Have you and members of your family been unemployed for a long time?
  • Fed up of living on Benefits?
  • Stuck in Rut?
  • Want to change your family’s life for the better?

Channel 4 is looking for families to take part in a new series where an employment & motivational expert will help you to turn your lives around… For Free!

 You could be starting the New Year with a new job and outlook for the future…

 If you and your family are interested in taking part – or know someone who is, then please contact Becky Maynard ASAP by calling 0207 534 2007 or emailing becky.maynard@studiolambert.com

 All calls will be kept strictly confidential.

1.1 million job opportunities in the UK

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 29/11/2009

Those of you that have been following my blog will remember me mentioning, on more than one occasion, my belief that if the Government were to invest in some of the white collar unemployed, they would create new businesses and hence more jobs.

A recent study confirms that new businesses and entrepreneurs are the key factor in adding new jobs. If just 10% of aspiring entrepreneurs actually set up businesses, there would be an extra 1.1 million job opportunities in the UK, it has been estimated.

Enterprise UK, a national organisation that promotes entrepreneurialism, believes that an extra 647,000 businesses would be created as a result. The findings are based on research which found that more than six million people in the UK have dreams of starting a business.

Far from deterring people’s entrepreneurial aspirations, the recession has actually encouraged budding business owners in Britain, according to the Enterprise UK report. The number of people expressing a desire to start their own venture has gone up by 12% in the past year.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said: “… entrepreneurs are key to driving economic prosperity. Their contribution to the UK and global economy cannot be overestimated.”

So what are you waiting for !



Are you a budding Entrepreneur with an idea ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 29/11/2009

I had some exciting news from Portsmouth University the other day that I would like to share with our community.

PIPEline (Portsmouth Integrated Programme for Enterprise) is a new intensive short programme of support for ideas-stage entrepreneurs in the Hampshire region. It has been put together by Richard Sant, Director of the University's "Centre for Enterprise" (see earlier blog article 'Who Wants to be an Entrepreneur?')

The programme will be a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth and Business Link and will aim to bring together ideas-stage entrepreneurs from many different ages and backgrounds: new graduates, creative entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, science and technology start-ups, to create a rich interdisciplinary mix in which the peer learning and networking opportunity is as important as the taught component.

Targeted at the entrepreneurial unemployed (this includes recent graduates and those made redundant through the financial crisis), PIPEline will help to ensure a supply of new growth-businesses to support the region’s economic strategy and provide a self-employed route out of unemployment for those participating.

The course will be free (although delegates may have to pay for overnight accommodation), and will run from January to February next year (2010).

more details

Some more useful sources of information

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 22/11/2009

I try to periodically have a trawl around the web to find new sources of useful information that could be of interest to our community. I recently came across these.

If you come across any other useful info you would like to share with us, please let me know.

direct Gov logo

Useful contact details for start-ups and small businesses

Business Link (England)

Business Gateway (Scotland)

Flexible Support for Business (Wales)

Real help now logo

Real help now

Help with keeping your home, with training and skills, and with jobs and benefits

FInd your way back to work logo

Jobcoach: five steps to help you get back to work

Searching for work is not just about looking for jobs. You also need to look at yourself in the right way and think about how you can do things differently.

UK unemployment slows but is the situation improving?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 22/11/2009

Once again, the ONS released another set of unemployment figures on the 11th November, no real surprises were included, unemployment still increasing, but not as fast which is good. The number of unemployed people this quarter increased by another 30,000 to reach 2.46 million.

In the three months to September 2009, 205,000 people had become redundant, down 63,000 from the previous quarter. The worst industry for redundancies is still the Finance and business services (55,000).

UK redundancies graph

These are the smallest quarterly increases in unemployment since March-May 2008 so hopefully this is a good indication that things are starting to get better and that perhaps we are reaching a turning point in the recession.

There was a small increase of 6,000 in the number of people in employment, the first quarterly increase since May-July 2008. A sad reflection I guess of just how little effect the campaign to get people back to work in the UK is having.

Whilst the number of people unemployed for up to six months fell by 99,000 this quarter is encouraging, the number of people unemployed for more than 12 months increased by 71,000 over the quarter to reach 618,000, the highest figure since the three months to November 1997. It is quite worrying to see the trend of longer term unemployed still worsening.

unemployed for more 12 month graph

Unemployment for 18 to 24 year olds was 746,000 in the three months to September 2009, up another 24,000 from the three months to June 2009. This is the highest figure since records for this series began in 1992.

Another trend I noticed in the figures that seems to have gone unnoticed is that the re-employment rates for people aged over 50 has been declining steadily from the starting data in 1997.

re-employment rates by age

The last 5 years figures for the over 50's are shown in the graph below. So much for age discrimination laws !

re-employment rates for 50+ graph

The number of job vacancies in the three months to October 2009 was 428,000, the lowest figure since records for this series began in 2001. This equates to just 1.6 vacancies per 100 employee jobs !

It was interesting to see that there are apparently some 997,000 employees and self-employed people now working part-time because they did not find a full-time job, this is up 30,000 on the previous quarter.

References: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/lmsuk1109.pdf

Self Employed - the next step ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 25/10/2009

All seems to have gone quite quiet in the press and on TV recently with regard to unemployment, in fact I have not heard any mention of White Collar Unemployed at all for some considerable time. I guess we will have to wait until the next set of unemployment figures come out before the problem raises its head again and we get any further publicity.

At the 6 month JCP interview they suggest that you could consider becoming self employed as a means of getting back into work. This is of course an option but the more cynical might argue that this is just a way for the government to get the numbers claiming JSA down so that the statistics look better and it pushes the problem onto someone else, you.

I have noticed recently though that, albeit in my small circle of WCU's, there seems to be the start of what could be a new trend perhaps. After much despair, frustration and desperation, it seems that a number of WCU people, myself included, have got fed up waiting for any help to come, or the hope of finding a job and have decided to go it alone and set up their own business.

For some this is an even scarier situation than the one they are currently in. What business do I choose ? How do I fund it, particularly when I already have large debts ? How do I find out how to do it ? There is help out there, and a lot of it is for free. Business Link, Enterprise First and HMRC all offer workshops, one-to-one discussions and seminars on starting up a business.

I personally have found it much more motivating and satisfying to spend my time every week trying to find clients and try to bring in some work than wasting my time searching the internet and papers etc for potential jobs and then spending ages filling in applications, knowing from my experience over the last few months of unemployment that I am very unlikely to have any success at all with them. As already mentioned in an earlier blog article, many of these jobs may not even exist anyway!

I learnt many years ago that you cannot just sit back and wait for things to come to you, if you want something, you have to go out and get it yourself. You have to make it happen.

When you are sitting at home on your own trying to figure out what to do next because job hunting clearly isn’t working, it is sometimes quite difficult to come up with ideas. I personally have been quite lucky in as much as I got to know some other people who were in a similar situation. The main thing to remember is that you are not alone, there are lots of others just like you who are in similar difficulties. Having someone to talk to, bounce ideas off of, ask questions and develop ideas with is a major help and boosts confidence significantly.

I feel that this is where job clubs fit in perfectly. They can give unemployed people of all different backgrounds the chance to meet up with others in the same situation. If you put a bunch of people with all different skills and backgrounds together in a room, they start to talk and from discussion will come help and ideas and maybe some of these will grow into businesses which in turn could lead to new jobs.

The problem I have found is that there aren't that many job clubs. I have spoken to people who sing the praises of job clubs and in a few areas there are a few of these already and they are working well. If you read my article "Still no response from my Labour MP …" you will have seen that the Conservatives are promoting a useful document about "How to set up and run a job club" and their campaign to Get Britain Working includes job clubs across the country.

This is a great start but it needs funding, somewhere to meet, organisation to arrange help, tuition, speakers etc. This is where local authorities need to help. Once you have a job club in place, it needs co-ordinated assistance in promoting it, it needs JCP to refer people to them etc, etc if it is going to be a success. They also need to be nationwide, not just in a few isolated places dotted across the UK.

As my earlier article mentioned, there have been job clubs set up in 3 MP constituencies so far. I know there are a few others in the Buckinghamshire area but we have a long way to go yet.

Why not ask your local authority and MP what they are doing about it in your area ?

Don't give up, try something different !

By guest blogger - Akin Smith 7th November 2009 www.thealoeshop.co.uk.

I left my job as a manager in a multinational IT Services company in late 2007 to look after my mum who was diagnosed with dementia. I have been caring for her ever since. However, almost immediately I left my job, I tried to set myself up as a home-based IT service provider, but never had any business. About the middle of this year, very frustrated and extremely financially challenged (an understatement, believe me!), I began to look sideways at other possible opportunities.

In my experience, people DO NOT think laterally when in very challenging situations like unemployment, when that may be the very thing they need to do. We instinctively go for the familiar and mainstream, banging our heads against the proverbial unyielding brick wall.

I was introduced to Forever Living Products and the possibility of building my own Independent Distributorship at about the same time. Initially very sceptical, I almost declined the opportunity. However, what I did was to research the company, the products, the business model, and the rest as they say is history. I joined in early September this year, and have had more business and generally, "more happening" in the last 8 weeks than in over 2 years of trying to launch my IT business; and that's not because I am a salesman. The business model incorporates fantastic support and mentorship which anyone coming from unemployment will appreciate. As they say in FLP, "You're in business for yourself, but NOT by yourself". I've found this to be very true.

So here's my advice: people need to think laterally. Setting up something as simple as a distributorship gets you working, earning, growing and developing. If a new distributor feels committed to a particular career, say accountancy for instance, nothing stops them from scaling down their business activities when they find the right job. In the mean time, they would've taken the bite of poverty out of their lives. And, an innovative person who had the initiative to start a business during a period of unemployment would be more attractive to a potential employer, and be in a better negotiating position, than one who spent all their time re-doing CVs and attending courses. Opportunities abound, and the individual only needs to be discerning to separate the scams from the genuine. If you find a company that makes a truly great product, and will market it exclusively via independent distributors, then you may be on to a winner.

I am currently looking to grow my business by building a team of highly motivated people who want to take control of their lives rather than wait to be rescued. If you know people who fit this description, I would really appreciate being put in contact with them. I appreciate that confidence may not be at the peak when one has been unemployed for a while. However, if there is a desire to turn things around, then we can work together.

However, this is what I feel strongly about: "Just because you are unemployed, does not mean you have run out of options. It's time to be creative. It's time to try something different. At the very least, explore the opportunities out there. Don't allow rejection to get to you; turn yourself into an entrepreneur - anyone can; all you need to begin with is desire!"

Still no response from my Labour MP ...

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 25/10/2009

Followers of my blog might remember that back in July (2009) I wrote to my local MP John Denham ("I asked my MP") asking him to comment on my blog article "Where is the help we were promised ?".

After a few days, I received an email from his office asking for my address details, but since then, I have had no further response from him on this issue.

Some weeks after, I thought I would try emailing the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Theresa May MP, to see if she had anything to share with our community as I had read about some job clubs being started up in her constituency. I was just beginning to think that I was not going to get a reply again when I received a very nice letter from her office.

The letter acknowledged that job clubs could be very helpful to job seekers to help them network together and offer support to each other during the job seeking process. It confirmed that the local JobCentre Plus in her constituency had set up some job clubs but that this was not happening as a matter of course in other areas.

A useful document about "How to set up and run a job club" was also included along with a link to the Conservative web site.

On further investigation of the web site, I came across a page entitled "Get Britain Working".

Get Britain Working

“Our campaign to Get Britain Working includes job clubs across the country and a new location-based search engine to help people find jobs.

Since January Conservative candidates, MPs and councillors have been setting up job clubs across the country to help local people who have lost their jobs in the recession.  It has become very clear to those running job clubs that people searching for jobs really need a means of finding out about jobs local to them in a quick and simple way.”

As mentioned in the extract above, they have been working with a software company to produce a new "job search engine" which apparently is intended to help you to find a job if you are looking for work or to post a job if you are an employer looking for new staff. They want to raise awareness of Zubed’s free job search engine so that its 100,000+ current jobs can really help get Britain working so I thought it would be useful to mention it here on my blog. Click on the button below to go to the search engine.

Zubed Job Search Engine button

Also on the "Get Britain Working" web site are some links about some job clubs that have been set up by MPs in three constituencies in the UK. Read about the Job Clubs set up by Tony Baldry in Banbury, Maggie Throup in Solihull and Chris Skidmore in Kingswood. Unfortunately only one of the blog articles includes any contact details for the job club so I guess for the others you will need to contact the MP for details.

There is also a document that you can download telling you how to set up a Job Club in your area. 

Why not contact your local Conservative MP and ask if they have any plans to do likewise in your area !

If you know of any new job clubs, let me know and I will add them to our Job Club page.

WCU now on Twitter

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 20/10/2009

You can now follow us on Twitter - check us out at WCUUK

We want to try and grow our community in the UK so give us your help, tell any unemployed white collar workers that you know about us please. Why not tell you job centre too.

Live interview with Steve Wood on BBC News

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 15/10/2009

I was very fortunate a few weeks ago to be invited for a live interview on the BBC News channel to discuss my experience of unemployment. I finally managed to get hold of a copy of the interview so I have now added it to our site. Watch the interview

"Executive Networking"

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 07/10/2009

Today I received an email from another member of our community about another useful find.

He wanted to share the details of "Executive Networking - A programme centre for Executives, Managers, Professionals and Graduates." The scheme is operated by Brighton based "Employer Engagement" who say they are Education and training brokers.

Employer Engagement (EE) is apparently a subcontractor of the Career Development Group (CDG). CDG is a registered charity, contracted by JobCentre Plus to provide a range of training and development opportunities to support individuals into sustainable employment.

The "Employer Engagement" web site states that they can help with job search, career advice and networking by way of the following:

  • Guest speakers from HR departments and recruitment agencies
  • Peer to peer advice and guidance on job search strategies
  • Practice interviews
  • Psychometric tests and career re-directional advice
  • Tips and techniques for job applications at executive level
  • An advice manual full of job search tactics and strategies

They state that their forum is apparently designed to create a weekly focal point to help motivate you to complete the level of job search needed in a competitive environment. It is suitable for graduates and those with management and professional experience who would benefit from peer to peer support.

They offer a choice of the following two venues:

Brighton: 9:30 - 17:00 every Thursday at CDG Refuge House 49-50 North Street, Brighton, BN1 1RH

Guildford: 9:30 - 17:00 every Wednesday at CDG Stamford House, Wood Bridge Road Guilford, Surrey, GU1 4PU

Take a look at their web site for details of how to register for this programme and details of what this programme involves.





Executive Networking Manual

Executive Networking Handbook

So what to do now ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 05/10/2009

Well, my 6 month JobCentrePlus (JCP) interview came and went. I've applied for more than 220 jobs and only managed to get 1 interview. My Job Seekers allowance has now stopped even though I have been paying into the system for nearly 38 years (they only consider the last 2 years payments for their calculations). The only "specialist" White Collar Unemployed help I finally received after 6 months from the JCP was no help at all.

From my experience so far in the ranks of the unemployed, and things I have learnt along the way, being over 50 and out of work for more than 6 months is only going to make things even harder. With unemployment figures still rising, competition for fewer available jobs is obviously becoming even greater so what is one to do ?

Clearly things are not working for me so do I just carry on as I have been, applying for job after job and getting nowhere ? No way !

In parallel with job hunting over the last few months, I have been developing other skills but I have found that even with re-training so that I could move into another field of work, it has been no help at all. Even though I have had quite a lot of experience in this alternative field of work over the last 10 years, albeit not as a full time occupation, the industry here in the UK won’t give me any opportunities to prove myself as they want people with multiple skills and typically around 2 years of recent industry experience.

It seems the only person that is going to help me get out of this mess is myself. As well as developing my skills, I have also been developing the infrastructure for my own business - my "Plan B" you could say. So as my Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) stopped, I had nothing to lose but to register myself as self employed and start looking for work.

I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and started going to networking events and I also joined a local Chapter of BNI. Well, so far so good. In my first few weeks of working for myself, things are picking up and work is starting to come in. There is a long way to go but at least I am earning more than the £65 per week JSA I was getting.

One of the best things about it is that I can make much better use of the time I previously spent looking for and applying for jobs and going to the JCP. Much better use of my time and it is for my own benefit.

The same old story

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 04/10/2009

I watched Andrew Marr interview David Cameron on BBC TV this morning. Amongst the usual spin and dodging answering difficult direct questions (which seems to be the norm these days on this difficult subject for Labour and Conservatives alike), one statement Mr Cameron made during the course of the interview seemed to hit the nail right on the head as far as White Collar Unemployed are concerned.

He said that the current Government system pays rewards for getting a person into, and for keeping them in a job but that the reward is so low, it means the help goes to the easy cases.

This I think is very much the case. I understand that the current scheme pays £150 to the "specialist" when a White Collar Unemployed person is referred from JobCentrePlus and then they receive a further £1000 when they successfully place that person in a job.

If you read my earlier blog article where, after referral to a specialist, I was subsequently offered roles as a cleaner or stacking shelves (i.e. not white collar jobs), it seems to make a lot of sense now. 

The BBC News web site very quickly published an article following the Andrew Marr show interview this morning which included some references to articles in today's Sunday papers. One statement from the Sunday Telegraph that I thought was of interest was:

Under the Get Britain Working scheme, Mr Cameron said he would give the long-term unemployed "the personalised support they need to get back to work". 

Most people who have been unemployed for more than six months, including the disabled and single mothers, would have their benefits cut if they refused to join privatised training schemes.

The idea is for private training firms to be employed to prepare the unemployed for work.

Isn't that exactly the same as the current Government plan ? The only difference would seem to be that the Tories want to do it sooner. Whatever happens, it is inevitable that in order to fund it, more jobs will have to be sacrificed. The TUC apparently have estimated it could mean another 700,000 job losses, another source mentioned during the interview this morning estimates the unemployment figure could rise to as many as 5 million !

Microsoft to help generate 500,000 jobs

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 03/10/2009

One of our White Collar Unemployed community contacted me this week to tell me about some news he had seen and wanted to share. Apparently, Microsoft have recently announced that as part of their ambitious £45m campaign to get 500,000 people into work by 2012 to boost the digital economy, it is preparing its MSEmploy service.

On the Microsoft "Britain Works" web site they state that in the modern workplace, 77 percent of all jobs require the ability to use some form of computer. Through Britain Works, you can take advantage of free and low-cost resources that will get you the skills to be workforce ready.

From a quick look at their web site, they appear to cater for a range of needs from free online learning for individuals new to Computing, opportunities to expand on your current computing skills, help for students to enhance their skills and obtain more experience, right through to help for entrepreneurs to give small businesses the boost they need to become successful.

It is nice at long last to see a large successful business making a commitment and investment in the UK to generate jobs and help our recovery.

So how about some of you other large companies out there ?

Is this really the help being offered ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 20/9/2009

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I was recently referred by Job Centre Plus (JCP) to a specialist recruitment agency after 6 months of unemployment and that I went along for an interview there a couple of weeks ago.

Well, I can report that I have had two phone calls from the agency since then about jobs. The first was as a cleaner and the second was for someone to supervise clearing and re-stocking shelves in a supermarket.

The opportunity for work of some kind is of course welcome but I fail to see just how this is designated as "specialist" help for White Collar unemployed. Is this seriously what the government is offering as their specialist help ?

I have in actual fact already applied for similar jobs in the last few months in times of real desperation and still failed to get an interview. I have heard, and read, of similar situations on a number of occasions where the recruiter would take a look at the CV, see that the person is totally over qualified for the role and reject it on the grounds that the person would only stay in the job until something better came along.

From the other perspective, if I was coming from a senior executive role into such a role, it is highly likely that I would be taking a major cut in income in such a situation (I know of examples that have meant anything from a 50% to 80% reduction). In order to maintain payment of my financial commitments, debts, mortgage, bills etc, I would have no choice but to keep looking for a higher paid job and move as soon as I could find something.

The other issue is of course, assuming that I was successful, I could also be taking a job from a blue collar worker or young unemployed person who is far better suited and likely to stay in the job. Obviously there are many such people on the unemployment register who probably have much better experience so competition would be high anyway.

Seems to be a case of "robbing Peter to pay Paul", not one of creating more jobs.

So is this seriously our Government's solution to help White Collar Unemployed ?

Possible opportunities ...

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 18/9/2009

I received some interesting details of some opportunities this week that might be of interest to some of our community.

  • "Life changing income opportunity - full training, all areas"
  • Subsidised PRINCE2 TRAINING for candidates who are unemployed or facing redundancy

Take a look at our opportunities page for more details.

Jobs of the future

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 13/9/2009

The Government has just released a new 24 page report (September 2009) entitled "Jobs of the Future". 

In the introduction, it explains:

"Jobs of the Future outlines where, as a result of expected growth and emerging global trends, new jobs could be created in the UK economy of the future. It identifies how the UK’s labour market is set to change, the potential employment opportunities that key sectors of our economy could generate and Government action to equip our workforce to win their fair share of these jobs, including the National Skills Strategy and the Higher Education Framework."

"This is not about setting targets for jobs in particular industries or markets. It is about identifying where opportunities are expected to be and what the Government can do to help British-based businesses thrive and deliver sustainable economic growth and jobs across our country in the years ahead."

The report seems to be based on a lot of research and other reports from various bodies and contains many references to these. The document quotes quite a number of facts and figures and mentions a number of government investments intended to create jobs and enhance the skills of our workforce.

As we have heard in the media recently, there was discrepancy between the real number of people claiming JSA and the number reported by government figures so I am always cautious when seeing such published data. I thought it would be interesting therefore to take a quick look at just how realistic some of these statements were.

JSA Claimant count graphTaking an example, in the introduction of the report, it states:

"...over the last six months, on average over 300,000 JSA claimants have come off the claimant count each month."

So this would suggest that 1.8 million claimants have stopped claiming JSA over the last 6 months. However, if you look at the statistics released by the National Statistics Office (NSO) in August, it states

"The claimant count in July 2009 was 1.58 million, up 24,900 on the previous month and up 709,000 on a year earlier." (Ref: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/lmsuk0809.pdf)

If the statements made in the report are correct and the NSO data show that claimant count is still increasing, then if there are 300,000 coming off JSA each month, it surely means that there are more than 300,000 new claimants for JSA each month doesn’t it ? That was not how the point came across in the report !

Anyway, moving on to the areas where the Government proposes to create new jobs. There are a number of key areas that the government are targeting, I have included a brief summary below along with the number of jobs that they expect to create.

The Low Carbon Economy

  • Investment announced in Budget 2009 for £1.4 Billion.
  • Potential for creating 400,000 new green jobs by around 2015.
  • Focus on getting the scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs with the new skills needed (carbon auditing, carbon trading, energy efficiency).

Advanced Manufacturing

  • Advanced manufacturing budget of £150m targeted investment in areas of aerospace, pharmaceuticals, electronics and precision instruments.


  • £45m - Rolls Royce - 4 new facilities sustaining 800 jobs.
  • £12m - Display technology - creating 1500 jobs by 2014.
  • £0.5m - Microelectronics design sector - helping 250 companies create 100 jobs and impact 200 firms linked to this business area.

Life Sciences

  • Pharmaceuticals, medical biotechnology and medical technology.
    • To help maintain & bolster the supply of high calibre skilled employees for these industries.

Digital Economy & Creative Industries

  • Information & Communication Technology (ICT), Broadcasting and Creative Industries
    • Expected to recover in 2010 and continue to grow
    • Digital Britain - more than 80 actions & recommendations

Business & Professional Services

  • ICT, legal, finance, accounting, marketing, advertising & real estate services
    • EU Services Directive - will generate 81,000 jobs in the UK

The Care Sector

  • Childcare services - skills development
  • Care for the elderly - future 25% increase of population over 80 in the next decade will lead to an additional 1.1m jobs in this sector by 2025.

The Retail Sector

  • Expected to remain an important source of employment.
  • Many new employees required to replace those retiring in future

Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure Sectors

  • Leisure time spending forecast to double over the next decade creating up to 200,000 jobs.

Better routes to employment

  • Plans to help up to 100,000 long term unemployed young people to access jobs in key sectors such as hospitality, leisure, tourism & retail industries.

It is good to see that there is a defined strategy and specific details of areas that could be improved with investment which could create new jobs. Clearly there will be no instant fixes and although some of the number of jobs that could be created are quite large, they will take several years to materialise. With our unemployed already at 2.4 million and still expected to rise, for many this is not going to help.

With the continued poor state of our economy and rising UK government debt, I wonder also when the promised investments will actually be made available. Spreading them across the next few years into the next decade is probably not going to help very much as we need a lot of it now.

Read the full report at http://www.hmg.gov.uk/media/41730/jobs_of_the_future.pdf

My meeting with the recruitment specialist

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 3/9/2009

Well, I went along for my interview with the recruitment specialist yesterday. 

Apart from getting stuck in traffic on the motorway because of an accident and then not being able to find anywhere to park, I found their office quite easily. Fortunately I had already discovered before my journey that the building number the JCP had given me was wrong otherwise I would have been on the wrong side of the road (in the Job Centre as it happens). In actual fact, I was a little surprised that I didn’t get any written confirmation of the appointment, all I got was the time and the address from the JCP by phone.

I think it would have been beneficial if they had at least told me what I was expected to take with me to the interview. I did take a copy of my CV with me but I discovered that I needed to provide two forms of picture ID (e.g. driving licence and passport) and two reference contact details for the agency application form that I had to fill in when I arrived so I have to go back with this at some time in the future (another 36 mile round trip and £6 to park) as I have to present the original documents to them. I would suggest that the JCP need to improve their system to resolve this.

My interview was with a very pleasant young lady who spent more than an hour with me going through my career history, understanding my background, experience, situation, aspirations, plans and hopes for the future etc. She also made some suggestions on what I should do to improve my CV.

For the first time in my 6 months of unemployment, I felt that someone was actually interested in my predicament and really trying to help me. I have had many interviews and "chats" with many different recruitment agencies over the phone in the last few months (who, in almost all cases, I have never heard from again) but it seems to make a big difference having a face to face meeting with them so this is something useful that I have learnt.

During my interview, I mentioned the feedback I had had two weeks ago from the JCP that "the agency had refused any more submissions". I was assured that this was definitely not the case and that this recruitment agency would never do this so I can only wonder if perhaps there is some kind of quota imposed by the JCP offices on how many people they can refer at a time which is presumably governed by budget restrictions.

Well, the outcome currently is that it seems there are not many opportunities out there still for me at present. In fact we only managed to identify one possible part time role currently on their books but unfortunately, that had been put on hold for the time being. Now I am signed up with them, the agency is looking for more opportunities for me.

My only fear now is that I wonder how much help the recruitment specialists can give for the limited budget, of what I understand is £150 per person, the government is paying them to help me ?

One the whole, a very worthwhile trip, I guess only time will tell what happens next.

But why did I have to wait 6 months for this ?

Has anyone else had similar help offered by JCP ? Why not share your experience with our community ? Email WCU or take it to the forum.

Referred to an agency for help after 6 months

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 30/8/2009

In my last blog article, I related my experience with JobCentrePlus trying to refer me to a local agency for help. Well, as promised, they did re-submit my request and they called me the next working day, to let me know that they had been successful in getting me an interview with the agency. I have an appointment at the agency's office, which is about 18 miles away from my home, next week, the day before I have to sign on again.

I have no idea what they will offer or what information I need to take along with me as I have not been contacted by the agency, all I was told was the date, time and the agency name and address so I guess I will just have to wait and see what happens.

I'll let you know how it goes.

At last, some help ? … or maybe not

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23/8/2009

Today, I was re-reading an article on the BBC website entitled Jobcentres 'failing unemployed' in which it reported that the Radio 4 programme, "Face the Facts" began an investigation after Ruth Owen, the chief operating officer for Jobcentre Plus, appeared on Radio 4's "You and Yours" in June 2009.

The interviewer suggested that Jobcentre Plus (JCP) has been failing to hit its targets for getting people back to work. Ruth Owen was adamant it was an efficient and comprehensive service for all types of unemployed people - including the new influx of white collar professionals entering the jobs market and that there were promises it was a professional and personal service for all.

The article went on to describe the experience of an unemployed female white collar professional who said she felt like she was on a timed treadmill and the jobcentre was doing nothing more than collecting her signature.

Figures the BBC obtained from a Jobcentre Plus managers' update for May show it is indeed achieving its targets on processing benefits, but not on getting people back to work.

Two weeks ago when I signed on, I saw a new advisor who actually made some useful suggestions that I could try to help my job searching. He also asked me if it would be OK for him to forward my details to an agency that specialised in helping white collar unemployed. At last some real help I thought, and I of course agreed and was told they would forward my details and the agency would be in touch shortly.

On my visit to JCP this week, I saw another new advisor and I mentioned that I had not heard anything yet from this agency. She asked her colleague that I had seen previously, who subsequently asked his supervisor and then came back to me and told me that they had submitted the request but the agency had refused any more submissions! The advisor asked me if I would like them to try and submit it again so I agreed and will have to wait and see what happens next.

My six month review is due on my next JCP visit in two weeks time and yesterday I received a letter from JCP telling me my Jobseekers allowance (JSA) based on my National Insurance (NI) contributions will stop. Even though I have been paying into the system for the last 38 years, they only seem to take into account the last 2 years contributions.

Based on my experience at JCP so far, it has taken them six months to offer me any assistance, I wonder perhaps if I will have to wait another six months before I hear any more. In any case, I fear it is too late. The main reason I signed on in the first place was just to get my NI contributions paid, the monthly JSA payment (~£65) of course has been of some assistance but it only covers a small fraction of my monthly outgoings so losing it is not going to make too much difference to me. Look on the bright side, if I am no longer signing on, the Government can say that they have reduced the number of JSA claimants!

I have applied for more than 200 jobs in the last six months and only managed to get one interview so far. I have been thinking for some time that I could be making much better use of the time I spend searching and applying for jobs and attending the Jobcentre and have been looking at ways of helping myself. If I can't find a job, then it looks like I will have to create my own.

I wonder how many others are in the same situation?

"Fortune Favours the Brave"

Chris Briggs, Beyond Demand Creation, 20th August 2009

Unemployment figures rise and the numbers of the young unemployed make headline news. But there is a vast amount of available middle and senior management talent who have been made redundant, have had to close their business or are hanging on in a job they don’t like or for a firm that is struggling.

These people are ripe for picking and could make a huge difference to an organisation. The problem is that most organisations are not hiring and have themselves probably let people go.

These companies know they have skills gaps which they need to fill but are not confident enough about the future to make the move.  But it is those companies who make that first move who have the most to gain. Wait until you are really sure that business is good and the future is rosy and you will suddenly find that you are competing with thousands of other companies for the skilled talent that you need.

Probability states that if you do this you are likely to have missed the best people and that you will end up having to pick people from an average pool of talent.

Top people can make a huge difference to the long-term success of a business. Will you wait until the green shoots really are green shoots and potentially lose out to a bolder rival or will you take the long-term view and seek out those people who can help drive your company forward?

A final thought…employing someone is of course expensive but not employing the skills you need could, in the long-term, prove to be far more costly to your business. Final, final thought; you could always hire on an interim basis then make the decision to retain or let go at the end of the period.

UK unemployment figures continue to rise

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 15/8/2009

The latest UK unemployment figures were released on the 12th August and they of course show that they are still continuing to rise. There were many articles in the press and on line about it this week so I expect many of you will have already read all the facts and figures. For those who haven't, some extracts from a number of different sources are summarised below.

Unemployment has soared to 2.43 million in the three months to June, an increase of 220,000, and up 750,000 on the year, official figures have shown.

The unemployment rate was 7.8%, up 0.7 percentage points from the previous three months, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. Reference

The figures continue to show a discrepancy between the number of people claiming benefits and the number of people unemployed, which has prompted an official government inquiry, announced yesterday. It is believed as many as 750,000 recently unemployed people may not be claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

The number of 18 to 24 year-olds out of work reached 722,000 in the three months to June 2009, up 46,000 from the three months to March 2009. Reference

The figures did show some positive trends, with a slowdown in the number of redundancies -- down by 9,000 quarter-on-quarter to 277,000 in the three months to June. Reference

Howard Archer, an economist with IHS Global Insight, said in a statement. "Unemployment still seems likely to rise above 3 million in 2010 and could yet reach 3.2 million." Reference

Official British statistics show nearly one million under-25s - or one-in-six - are out of work. Reference

I remember hearing somewhere recently that one of the best indicators of a recession being over is when the number of unemployed stops increasing. From the above data, it would appear that although there might be a bit of a slow down in numbers but I have also heard that it could be that the redundancies might just occur a little later than originally expected. With the econimists predicting we could reach more than 3 Million unemployed in 2010, it would seem that we are still a long way off a recovery.

We seem to get statistics quite often these days showing how many 18 to 24 year olds are unemployed but it would also be interesting to see other figures such as how many White Collar Unemployed there are. We see reports in the press that their numbers are growing but I can’t find any actual figures.

Out of interest, I have added a quick survey page to collect some data (totally anonymously) on this so I would much appreciate if you could spend just a couple of minutes to fill it in please. You can view the results at any time.

I really worry about our young unemployed. What sort of damage is not being able to get their first job and having very few prospects in the short term of finding any unemployment going to do to them ? It certainly isn't going to instill any confidence in them or motivate them. What a way to start their working life.

If we can’t find any work for nearly a million young unemployed now, how are we going to cope with steadily increasing numbers year on year in the future. I read somewhere that there are around 600,000 school and university leavers this year (2009) in the UK looking for work. I am assuming that this 600,000 is included in the "near one million" under 25 unemployed reported above.

The planned Government scheme ('Future Jobs Fund') is intended to create 150,000 jobs which are to be offered to those who have been unemployed for a year.  In one years time there are presumably going to be yet another 600,000 or so added to the numbers. The scheme is clearly not going to work!

I've mentioned it previously but I will do so again (and again I'm sure). There are a lot of very experienced unemployed White Collar Workers out there who have lots of knowledge and skills available. If the government invested in these people, they might be able to start up new businesses and hence create more jobs.

We should find ways of bringing these people together and combine their skills and expertise. At the very least, they could encourage and train others (including some of our young unemployed), provide mentoring and consultancy to businesses and start-ups and much more I'm sure. Some will surely be able to create businesses themselves given the right backing and support. Give them some funding to do this and it could be a great starting point to helping UK recovery!

Jobcentre Plus - Not Working

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 12/8/2009

This coming Sunday (at 9pm) BBC Radio 4's John Waite asks whether the tough targets imposed on Personal Advisors mean they don't have time to help jobseekers look for work, only administer benefits. This is despite assurances from the Jobcentre Plus that there are jobs out there - it boasts that an average of 10,000 new vacancies are advertised in its offices every day. more details

From my experience so far with my visits to my Jobcentre Plus (JCP) and from discussions I have had with others, I think this is probably very true.

I saw Lord Mandelson on BBC Breakfast this morning where he stated that they wanted each job seeker to be able to spend 40 minutes with their advisor. Although I have also recently seen a number of reports that suggested that JCP had taken on many more staff to help tackle the workload, I somehow think this will be difficult to achieve. I think my average JCP discussions with my advisor over the last 6 months would generally be around 10 minutes.

I would however point out that on my last visit, I did spend much longer than 10 minutes with my advisor. If you read my earlier blog article Job club experiences, one of the web sites mentioned was www.careerplan4.me. I registered on their site as instructed and then took the printed form along with me and gave it to my advisor. As expected, the advisor had not seen it before so there was some discussion with the supervisor, followed by some time for them to check out that it was a legitimate scheme and then they came back to me, explained what they had done, filled in a form which I signed and that was it.

Yesterday, I received an email from careerplan4me with my login details. I haven't had time to investigate the tools yet but will do so in due course. If anyone has already tried them out, please let us know how you got on. (forum)

"Help for mature job seekers"

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 9/8/2009

I picked up a free newspaper during my visit to the supermarket this week. It was entitled "There's more to life - Hampshire (Summer 2009)" and it is "the free newspaper for the over fifties from Age Concern in Hampshire".

Browsing through it I came across an article entitled "Help for mature seekers". It talked about a new web site called 2old.co.uk that had been launched on the 9th March 2009 to "help correct the imbalance that exists between the younger and mature job seeker".

It went on to say that mature job seekers have many obvious benefits to offer over younger ones and that they could be willing to work for less than the "going rate". It was felt that this might be an attractive option particularly for start-ups and small businesses.

The founder of the web site is to be commended for doing something positive to help the more mature unemployed in the UK who desperately need some assistance but the article did start me thinking about a few things.

Our laws in the UK prohibit discrimination by employers on grounds of age when recruiting so I wonder if the name 2old.co.uk breaches any laws ?

Although most employers will not admit it, from many discussions I have had with unemployed people over the age of 50 in recent months, they all felt that from their experience, Ageism is rife in the UK job market. Would the name of the web site therefore put potential employers off even looking there ? I guess one benefit for them could be that they might be able to save themselves some of the cost of recruitment (estimated to be an average of £4333 in the article).

I wonder how one defines the "going rate" for a job ? Does this mean the going rate for a mature employee or does it mean paying below the going rate of a new graduate for the experienced person ? I know of very experienced, mature senior staff who have not even been able to get interviews for jobs offering less than 50% of the salaries they have been earning previously. How much below the going rate do we have to go ? I wonder if this is something employers will really consider.

I wish this new web site every success and I would welcome any feedback from anyone who gives it a try. It will be interesting to see if it works.

Do you have any comments ? Have you tried it ? Why not discuss it on our forum.

Truth or rumour ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 9/8/2009

65% of jobs are unadvertised - I have read and also heard this mentioned on a number of occasions. I also have experienced this first hand.

80% of jobs advertised on job web sites don’t exist! -  This statement has come up in several conversations I have had over the last few months. Also on more than one occasion I was told that this information had  allegedly originated from former recruitment agents.

Who wants to be an entrepreneur?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 5/8/2009

Yesterday I attended a very interesting workshop at the University of Portsmouth Business School entitled "Who wants to be an Entrepreneur ? ".

This was the second collaborative event provided jointly by Job Centre Plus, Portsmouth City Council and the University of Portsmouth and I have to say, I think it was another great success and a great follow up to their first workshop that was targeted at unemployed executives and senior managers who wanted to know more about working in the Sales Sector.

The aim of this particular workshop was to support local unemployed and experienced middle managers and executives who want to use their expertise by setting up as their own boss. The event was very well attended and the lecture theatre was almost full.

The WOW Company logoThe workshop kicked off with a presentation from Peter Czapp of The WOW Company which is an accountancy company who specialise in working with small businesses and helping them grow. Peter presented a wealth of very useful information, hints and tips on how to go about setting up your own business and highlighting many of the pitfalls of the process.

The second session was a workshop presented by Caroline Strevens and Joe Sekhon from the  Portsmouth University School of Law and covered an overview of Risk management and how to protect your business ideas, IP etc. They also provided some useful handouts and details and links of many other useful resources.

Next up was Richard Sant, Director of the University's Portsmouth Centre for Enterprise , which aims to inspire Portsmouth students to learn and succeed in entrepreneurship through developing enterprise skills and experience. Richard has a wealth of experience in advising fledgling businesses.

Richard led an interesting interactive session which helped everyone understand the importance of identifying the right idea to work with and sticking with it, determining if you are the correct person to achieve the goals, to understand the vast range of skills required to build a business, and the importance of teaming up with others to complement your own skills in order to enable your business to succeed.

Richard also briefly asked for feedback and ideas from the delegates on how the University could help this process further and assist small business in the area to establish and grow successfully.

There were also a number of information stands around the lobby area offering a range of useful information. Some useful links to some of the information I obtained are included below.

  • Stafford Rhodes - Be who you want to be !
    (This is one of the many companies working with the government to provide free help to unemployed in the Portsmouth area).

Thanks must once again go to the core team of Linda Taylor of Portsmouth City Council, Alison Robertson of Portsmouth Jobcentre Plus and Becky Platt of the Portsmouth Business School for organising yet another very successful workshop targeted at helping the White Collar community get back to work and helping grow business and jobs in the area.

6 months unemployed is too long

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 1/8/2009

I recently received an email from www.theitjobboard.co.uk telling me about research that they had carried out on 150 IT professionals and recruitment consultancies which found that recruitment consultants feel that anything upwards of 6 months is too long to be out of the job market.

This is supported by similar research done recently by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) who concluded that workers who are made redundant have a six month window before they are viewed as being long-term unemployed

Their study revealed that while losing your job does not initially carry any sort of stigma, after half a year has passed a quarter of employers are less likely to hire someone.

Penny de Valk, chief executive of the ILM, suggested "the most effective way for job seekers to boost their future employment prospects is to play to their strengths, freshen up their knowledge and skills and keep up to date with developments in their sector".

Included in the IT job board email were a number of tips, which although not new, are still very relevant to the IT industry and also many others hence I thought it useful to include them below.

Take the time to re-skill

Research highlighted that 61% of respondents felt that being made redundant has helped them to develop their IT skills. This can be a significant advantage when deciding what to do next, as your options and choices are likely to be less restricted. With much of your competition already re-skilling, now is the time to identify the skill gaps in your CV.

Change career paths

38.7% of respondents also said that being made redundant has helped them make a career change. Use redundancy as a time to really assess where you want your career to go, don’t just jump into the next best thing.

Stay positive

Although redundancy can be upsetting it is important to stay motivated. Despite the many phone and face to face interviews you have – each interaction with an employer is their first with you thus it is important not to show the strain redundancy is having on you.

Brush up on interview techniques

If you were in previous employment for a while then its unlikely that you’ve practised your interview techniques. Try and brush up on your interview skills by looking online to get practice interview questions or downloading relevant tests that you may be asked to do as part of an interview.

Your CV is your passport

Make sure your CV is up to scratch before sending it off to recruiters. Hamish Taylor from Shinergise and Partners shared the following advice: “Clearly define your transferable skills as they relate to future employers; define past experience as being evidence of those skills not simply a history of achievements for former employers”

Be clear about your redundancy

Be very clear about why you were made redundant, what the circumstances were and have a clear means of describing this without bitterness or anxiety to future employers.

Don’t be negative

Even though you have been laid off or made redundant, do not say anything negative about your former employer. A positive and can-do attitude will go a long way in landing the new job. Keeping in touch with old colleagues is a good way to maintain your personal and professional network. Getting online and taking the time to make the most of professionals networking sites like LinkedIn can really give your job hunting a boost. If you are out of work, consider making it more obvious on your network profiles that you are actively seeking a new role.

Be Proactive

65% of jobs are unadvertised so take the time to pinpoint the organisation you would like to work for and pick up the phone to find out if they have any opportunities. This approach can really work to your favour if you make the right impression so make sure you know what you want to say beforehand. Take some time research the organisation online, and try to use professionals networking sites to find a contact name so you know you are speaking to the right person.

Consider Volunteering

If you are approaching the 6 month milestone, it is important to consider how you are going to continue to use your skills whilst you are out of work. Volunteering on a project or temporary basis for charities or not for profit organisations is one way to demonstrate that you continuing to utilise your skills.

Job club experiences

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 31/07/2009

As I think I have mentioned before, I am a great believer in job clubs and how they can benefit the unemployed. Earlier this week, I received a really interesting email from one of our WCU community who wanted to share his experiences of a local job club along with some of the information that he had gained from this and wanted to share with the rest of us.

1. A while back we had a session on how to identify your transferable skills. You list key achievements you’ve made in the past and use a cross matrix to identify the skills you employed. I took this and created a spreadsheet (attached) which you can tart-up and put onto the site for people to download. [open/download spreadsheet here]

2. We learned about a DWP (Department for Works and Pensions) Initiative, “Job Search for Newly Unemployed Professionals”. The Job Centres have apparently been trained on this but internal communication appears to be an issue and not all Job Centres are aware of it. The website for this is www.dwpoutplacement.com which instructs you to refer to your jobcentre which could bring you back to where you started from. The site points to a company called Via-interim as the provider of the service. I spoke with them and they pointed me to www.careerplan4.me . You register here and receive an email with instructions which you print off and take to your jobcentre. The result of all this is that you should receive an access code and you then have use of their tools free for a year to help you get back to work .

 3. Last week we were visited by someone from an organisation called “Next Step”. They help people find work, get training, etc. It’s only been launched in the SouthEast and East Midlands apparently and I only have the Southeast URL which is www.nextstepsoutheast.org.uk . If successful it will go national at some point.

Our friend has asked to remain anonymous so I will respect his wishes. Many thanks for providing all the above very useful and interesting information and for your hard work generating the spreadsheet. I for one will be using this very shortly.

I was amazed at how many topics were included in the list. I think we often forget or take for granted all the things we can actually do or have done in the past that can be classified as transferrable skills. I don't think I would have come up with that many off the top of my head although I think I can say that having looked through them, I have done every one of them over the years.

A very useful addition to go with your CV I think you will agree!

"The 6 month offer"

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 30/07/2009

After much searching and purely by luck, I finally managed to find out some information about one of the government help schemes for the unemployed.

The 6 month offer package offers assistance to 6 month unemployed Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) customers to improve opportunities for entering work or improving work–related skills in addition to the support already available through existing programmes for everyone. This will be achieved by a range of new measures which will be provided through Jobcentre Plus advisers. The options are access to Skills support, an Employer Subsidy, Volunteering opportunities and financial and training support to enter and sustain self –Employment. Accessing these options will be voluntary .

You can download the DWP document that tells you all about The 6 month offer here. Maybe you could print off a copy and take it along to your job centre next time you go and discuss it with your advisor.

Town halls pledge to help unemployed

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 30/07/2009

In one of my recent "search sessions", I came across this useful press release.

In response to new unemployment figures, showing 2.26m people out of work, Cllr Margaret Eaton, Chairman of the Local Government Association said:

"Every single person being made redundant or having difficulty making ends meet should contact their council to make sure that they are getting all the advice, support and benefits they're eligible for. From retraining and finding a new job to filling in housing benefits forms, town halls are there to help people through difficult times.

"Different parts of the country are facing very different levels and types of unemployment. Former industrial areas have been hit by blue collar unemployment, whilst white collar job losses are rising at a much quicker rate in London and the South East.

"A national, one size fits all approach to dealing with the recession isn’t going to work. Decisions about the economy need to be made at a local level to make sure that they're actually going to respond to the problems of local people. The needs of the home counties are poles apart from the action that needs to be taken in more inner city areas."

Author: Nicholas Mann
LGA media release - Wednesday 17 June
Contact: LGA Media Office, Tel: 020 7664 3333

Pasted from <http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=2004625>

I asked my MP

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 30/07/2009

Recently, I received a mailshot from my local MP John Denham (Southampton Itchen - Labour) announcing amongst other things that he and other Labour ministers had published "a radical plan for for a stronger, fairer, more prosperous Britain: Building Britain's Future." and that in it, they had made "a number of important commitments to the British people".

It went on to mention a number of items including the following which relate to jobs:

... Every young person who has been out of work for a year will have to take a job, training or work experience place.

... An extra £1.5bn will be invested in 20,000 affordable homes over the next two years - supporting thousands of jobs.

It went on to ask the reader to fill in a survey form to tell John Denham and Labour which 3 local or national issues concern them the most.

After writing my blog article "Where is the help we were promised ?" on the 14th July, I thought this to be an ideal issue to share and that I would try and get some official response from the government to my concerns from my local MP. So, I wrote an email to John Denham asking him for his comments on the article so that I could share his response with our community.

I was initially encouraged when I received an email back asking for my address which I prompty provided. It is now more than 2 weeks since our communication and sadly still no response.

Watch this space ... but I suggest you don't hold your breath.

Are employment agencies letting us down ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 30/07/2009

I was talking to an unemployed senior manager the other day who was telling me about how frustrated he is getting with agencies.

As an example, he told me of an agency that made contact with him about a very interesting job opportunity, got his CV, discussed his details with him and then set up a telephone interview with the client. All seemed to go well in the interview and he was told the client would get back to him via the agency shortly.

That was a few weeks ago now. He has tried to follow up with the agency a number of times to get some feedback on how it went and if it was likely to progress further. He had a lot of trouble getting hold of the agent, who was not available and did not respond to numerous messages he left. He still hasn’t managed to get any feedback!

The client is apparently a large multinational company who use this particular agency for a lot of their recruitment. One would assume therefore that they would be in touch on a regular basis so if they are both doing their jobs professionally, there should have been some further discussion on this particular case.

From my many years of working for large multinational companies, and using agencies for recruitment, I would expect the agency to promptly follow up with the client so that they could update the candidate after the interview. If the client is, or is not, interested in taking it further with the particular candidate, normally they will decide quite quickly and tell the agency who in turn can feed this back. Whatever the decision, out of professionalism and common courtesy, there should be feedback within a day or two, or at the very least, an explanation as to why it might take longer and a schedule for responding. From my past experience working with reputable agencies, this process has always worked well so what is the problem now ?

I feel that this guy is being treated very badly and I fear that this is not an uncommon situation these days as I have had many similar conversations and if you read some previous contributions to our blog and Dolebert's Diary you will see more examples.

Personally I think it is totally unacceptable behaviour. Being unemployed, having no income and rapidly increasing debts etc is stressful enough, you don’t need situations like this on top of it !

Has anyone else had similar experiences ? Why not share it in our forum.

WCU on the radio

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23/07/2009

Many thanks to Adrian Knight and Sally Cronin of Express FM (93.7) in Portsmouth for Ade & Sal photoinviting me along to Adrian Knight's Big Drive Home this afternoon and and for giving me the opportunity to talk about our White Collar Unemployed web site and help to raise awareness of our communities plight and frustrations. They made me very welcome and at ease during their very interesting and entertaining show. Why not have a listen online while you are reading this blog. Great show guys, keep up the good work.

One of Adrian's hobbies seems to be tampering with the language on SATNAVs ... mine started taking Japanese on the way home! Maybe it was just the heat. :o) [if you were listening to the show you will know what I am talking about, if not, my appologies for appearing a bit random].

Where is the help we were promised ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 14/07/2009

I try and do regular searches on the internet to find articles and announcements relating to white collar unemployment but it is quite difficult to find anything these days. Periodically I manage to find a few older items of news that I missed previously but the general trend seems to be that we are becoming a forgotten, or maybe that should be ignored, entity.

If you read some of my earlier blog articles, you will have noticed I mentioned that when I was doing my initial research, I came across a number of press articles reporting what the government had stated they were going to do to help us, but I never yet managed to find any real indications that they ever actually implemented anything.

Looking back at the articles I discovered previously to reacquaint myself, I found one from The Observer dated Sunday 8 February 2009 entitled "Key Labour employment plan close to collapse" which suggested that the government could not afford to fund their proposed plans to help the white collar unemployed. It stated

"The government's flagship policy to revolutionise welfare by paying private companies to find jobs for the unemployed was in crisis last night as firms said there were too many people out of work - and too few vacancies - to make it viable."

It went on  to mention

"The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it had been called off … , but one company manager involved remarked: "The most telling thing is that no new date was set."

Another article entitled Employment scheme 'risking failure' on the 5th March 2009 seems to support this and mentioned

"The Flexible New Deal (FND), which starts in October, is expected to attract up to three times as many applicants than was originally predicted".

The report also recommended the appointment of an independent ombudsman to address concerns of the voluntary sector and to ensure that the public's voice was heard throughout the process.

On Monday, 9 March 2009, The Independent reported

"Jobless executives to get special help. From next month, Professionals who sign on will get one-to-one meetings with a personal adviser, attend group sessions for similar jobless people at new-style "job clubs", given help to brush up their job-hunting skills and receive advice on changing careers. The Government will pay specialist recruitment agencies to help people seeking executive posts".

I found some extracts from www.parliament.uk dated the 10th March that at least gives some indication that the topic was raised by the Hon. Mrs. Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con) in parliament. She stated 

"… The reality is that Britain now faces an unemployment crisis.

Yet there is still no real action from the Government. Instead, true to form, they have given us only empty promises. In October, the Government announced £50 million of help for people “currently facing redundancy”. Five months on, how many have received that help? None. Why? Because the projects will not start until April. In December, the Government announced £79 million of funding. Two months later, they re-announced that help. Only then was it revealed that no new employment programmes would be in place as a result of that money until the end of this year… "

"...Yesterday, the Secretary of State announced in an interview with a newspaper that he was spending £40 million to provide extra support for white-collar workers with one-to-one interviews, which they are supposed to have anyway, and the creation of job clubs, which some job centres, such as the one in Maidenhead, already run.

We should pity the poor unemployed white-collar worker who heard that and logged on to the Department for Work and Pensions website to find out more, because there is no more information. Indeed, the announcement is not even on the DWP website. So what sort of commitment is it? Is it new money? How many job clubs will be created? Where will they be, and crucially, when will what has been announced happen?

I've searched and searched for further, more recent, articles and announcements on this topic but failed to find anything since. The latest, as you can see, dates back to March 2009.

What happened about the recommendation for an independent ombudsman, was one ever appointed ?

I've asked many times at my local JobCentrePlus office what help is available for the white collar unemployed and they tell me "we have nothing yet". I asked if they new about any local job clubs, they didn't.

When is something actually going to happen ? Have we been forgotten ? Maybe the government think if they ignore us we will go away or maybe they think we will get fed up waiting and resolve the problem ourselves perhaps and let them off the hook. It certainly doesn't look like we are going to get much help! The longer it goes on, the worse it is going to get and the harder it will be to fix.

If you read the article Redundant staff 'have a six month window' , it is clear that we need help early, i.e. immediately after redundancy not after a year of unemployment ! The situation also gets worse as you get older. If we ever do get any government help, and especialy if it is only forthcoming after you have been unemployed for over one year, it could already be too late for many of us.

Let me know if you find any more recent news on this.

Take it to the forum to share your thoughts.

Is retraining really an option ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 12/07/2009

In these tough times, with jobs being extremely scarce in specialist or niche fields of work, one option open to the unemployed is obviously to retrain.

There are many companies offering training courses to help people improve their skills or to change to a different profession. Many of them also advertise that you can make good money in these new trades and that they will help you get a job at the end of the training course. Some suggest that you can fast-track to get these new skills in a few months as well.

I still see many adverts in the local press saying that there are shortages of plumbers, electricians and carpenters but with the current state of the housing market, the building industry is suffering and houses are not being built. I recollect some figures I heard a while ago which indicated that the government target was to build around 250000 new homes each year in order to meet the growing needs of the country.

Recently I heard that in reality, only around 60000 homes are currently being built per year. If this is this case, it would appear that there is insufficient work to keep existing tradesmen in work so how can there be a need for more, at least in the short term ? If it only takes a few months to get through the re-training then there are not going to be any jobs at the end of the course until the market improves significantly and houses start getting built again.

If you watch the TV and read the papers, you will also see many adverts to retrain as a driving instructor. Again if you believe what you are told, there must be a lot of people going down this route to a new career with this vision of earning up to around £30000 per year but where are the limits ? You can't sustain growth in this area indefinitely and with times being hard, are there really many people that can afford to take driving lessons and to buy, tax and insure and run a car I wonder ?

I was reading an article the other day about the digital marketing agency sector with respect to new graduates and juniors. I am assuming here that junior roles will also include those that are re-training to enable them to move into this field of work.

In this article, which incidentally was written by a recruitment consultant, it was suggested that different digital agencies are handling the current difficult situation quite differently. Some are getting rid of all freelancers and keeping only permanent staff, others are doing the opposite. The most worrying comment in the article was that due to the lack of confidence in the market, "agencies are only looking to hire people that can hit the road running and they don’t have time to invest or train juniors or less experienced people".

To me, this is does not give me much confidence that retraining, at least in the short term, is necessarily a good option. Longer term it might be okay but one wonders how does one gain experience in the mean time in order to get accepted into these new areas of work? It is a bit of a "catch 22" situation.

What is your experience ?  Have you been through the retraining process ? Did you manage to get a job afterwards ?  Let us know in the forum.

Telegraph.co.uk re-launches job site

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 01/07/2009

Today sees the re-launch of the Telegraph jobsite. The redesign apparently is intended to assist you in finding a new job and help you in your career search or progression.

Additions to the site include the following:-

  • Forums; they are bringing social media to the front of the recruitment process, allowing you to interact with other jobseekers and recruiters through their sector specific forums.
  • Personalisation; view your jobs search history, jobs that have been viewed by other related jobseekers and welcome back messages.
  • Career tools; they have partnered with a number of professional companies to provide you with advice and services to assist your career search or progression.
  • Simplified job search; they have looked at how people are searching for jobs and have amended the search and included a refine search unit to assist you in finding the right job.
  • My Career dashboard; a dedicated homepage which simplifies the tools they have on offer and highlights the new items in your account.

Looks useful! Why not check it out and write a review for us to publish on our blog or articles pages so we can share it with our community? You can email it to me at WCU by clicking on this link.

Another Monday morning

Disillusioned & desperate, White Collar Unemployed, 30/06/2009

Another Monday morning and back to the depressing task of job hunting for yet another week. It seems to get harder and more depressing each day. The same old routine, read the ads and search the web sites, find a few that look promising, send off applications with my CV and wait for a  response, which in most cases never happens. All you seem to get these days is a one line statement on the bottom of an automated reply to your application that says something like "due to the large number of applications we receive, we cannot reply to applicants hence if you haven’t heard from us in a few days, your application was not successful".

I understand that it might be difficult to reply if there are a lot of applicants but how does this help me understand why I am not getting any interviews so that I can do something about fixing it ? I have tried to call some of the agencies to try and talk to someone and get some real feedback but pretty much all of my attempts have been fruitless. Emailing them produced similar results.

Well, the phone rang at 08:30 this morning, it was an agency ! A young guy at the other end of the phone told me he was following up on my application from last week and asked me if I was still looking for a job. Then he went on to ask a few questions which, if he had read my CV that I sent him, he would have known that he already had the information he needed. So, do agencies even read your CV when you send it ?

From articles I have read online and in the press over the last few months, it seems that the agency process is to request a copy of your CV, typically in MS Word format without any clever formatting or pictures included, so that they can read it into their database. This enables them to run searches on certain keywords in your CV to see if it matches up with what they are looking for.

So this enables them to pull out potential candidates from their database using a few specific keywords but what happens next ? I would have expected that they would then go on to read the CV that they had identified in their search and get more information from that and do a more detailed match with the job specifications. 

From the example I mentioned above, it would seem that not all agencies do this so how can I put my faith in an agency to know that they are really trying to find me a job or that I am getting screened realistically based on my experience and skills that are in my CV but are not covered by the keywords they are using for their search ?

I think it would be very useful if we knew exactly how the agencies process work, maybe then we could tailor our CVs to work more effectively.

[WCU editor] Many thanks once again to "Disillusioned & desperate" for your article.

Does anyone in our community know how the agency process works ?

Maybe an agency would care to comment and give us some useful feedback ?

Why not discuss this on our forum !

Don't forget, you can send us your articles for inclusion on the WCU site anytime. Don't be shy, share it with our community !

Now there's an offer !

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 29/06/2009

Fancy a Free holiday ? Yes that's right, your eyes do not deceive you. I found this headline on telegraph.co.uk today, "Wanted: Unemployed Briton to go on free holiday and call it work". Apparently, lastminute.com are looking for an unemployed person to trot off around the world for them for a 60 night period covering 32000 miles, 8 major cities and 3 continents. All the costs will be covered but no actual salary will be paid to the individual.

If you are interested, you need to apply by the 15th July 2009. To enter you must send a photo of yourself having "a seriously good time" on holiday, along with a review of no more than 200 words describing your experience. read more

Choices '09

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 27/06/2009

I have just finished reading a pull out advertising feature that was included last Thursday in The News, Portsmouth which is all about their Choices '09 exhibition (details on our Events page) on Tuesday 30th June at the Cascades shopping centre in Portsmouth.

Choices '09 is a free event which is being run by The News in association with Portsmouth Local Strategic Parnership, JobCentrePlus and Portsmouth City Council. It is targeted at everyone from 16 to 60 and covers a broad range of topics including advice on careers, benefits, further education or a new direction in your working life.

The pull out feature contained a number of interesting articles, interviews and other information along with a lot of useful contact details (some of these from Portsmouth City Council, are already on our useful links page, I will add more shortly).

I also noticed an advertisement for "Job Cafe", a website that has been created to provide career advice for everyone in the Portsmouth area. This is jointly sponsored by Portsmouth City Council, Learning Skills Council, Connexions and Education Business Partnership. Their aim is to provide the latest information on training, careers and jobs in Portsmouth in the fastest growing industry sectors.

It seems that Portsmouth is really getting things moving on helping the unemployed in the area. This is really great news and a good start, keep it up!

This is a FREE event so why not pop along and see what they have to help you !

Spread the word

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 24/06/2009

The aim of the White Collar Unemployed web site is to to bring together the White Collar unemployed community in the UK to share questions, concerns, frustrations, thoughts, ideas and anything else that might help our community to get back to work.

We also aim to try and keep you up to date on topical issues and point you in the right direction for advice, information etc that we come across that could be of help to you.

The more members we have, the more skills and knowledge and experience we have between us which will enable us to help each other better. Also, it will help us gain more visibility in the UK and enable us perhaps to attract more support in getting us back to work.

We therefore need your help to spread the word so that we can increase our numbers and promote White Collar Unemployed please. If you know someone who is an unemployed white collar worker, please forward them a link to our site.

I have generated some posters that you can download and print off. Tell your friends and others you know who are in the same situation as you. For example, people you meet at the job centre, at networking events etc. Maybe you can give a poster (or a few even) to the job centre clerk when you sign on next time for them to pass on !

(More information on our Spread the word and Link to Us pages.)

Future Jobs Fund

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 22/06/2009

In my blog article entitled "More gloom ahead as things get worse" on the 17th June, I mentioned the "Future Jobs Fund". I expect like me, most of you wondered what this was so I found out a little more about it.

The following are some extracts from the Guide to the Future Jobs Fund which I found on the DWP web site at www.dwp.gov.uk/campaigns/futurejobsfund.

The Future Jobs Fund is a fund of around £1 billion to support the creation of jobs for long term unemployed young people and others who face significant disadvantage in the labour market.

The Fund was announced in Budget 2009 and is to be spent over the next two years. It is a challenge fund which invites organisations to submit bids for funding. The fund is run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG).

The Fund aims to create 150,000 jobs aimed primarily at 18-24 year olds who have been out of work for a year. This will support the guarantee that from 2010 everyone in this age group who has been looking for work for a year will get an offer of a job or training lasting at least 6 months.

The aim is to specifically target 50,000 jobs in unemployment hotspots and anticipate that around 10,000 of the 150,000 jobs created will be green jobs.

An article I found on Bloomberg on the 17th June 2009 suggests "almost one in five people age 16 to 24 are unemployed, and Gordon Brown said last week the Labour government will focus on creating jobs."

The Guardian also ran an article which stated "the increasing unemployment figures add to growing concern that many of the 600,000 young people who leave school, college or university this summer will not find a job"

It would seem that government plans again fall very short of addressing the problem for 18 to 24 year olds. The Future Jobs Fund, like most of the plans I am aware of so far, seem to only offer support to people who have been unemployed for more than 1 year. This is far too late !

All our government plans seem to be reactive, they need to be more proactive. They are still only plans, what about some real action and results !  It would be really good to see details of how many actual jobs are created each week and how many of them were filled by unemployed people. Perhaps then, we might start to get some confidence that our government is really doing something to help.

If you read my recent blog article about the "Sales Workshop" (11th June 2009), you will have seen that there was mention of a  new help scheme (e.g. CV writing skills, interview techniques etc) for white collar workers recently finding themselves unemployed (i.e. in the last 3 months). This is a step in the right direction but what about all those that have been out of work for longer than this ?

What is the cost of paying benefits to a middle aged, very experienced white collar worker with a family who has lost everything including maybe even his or her home ? One wonders perhaps if the government invested in the older, more experienced white collar workers, perhaps they could create more businesses which in turn might create new jobs for some of the 18 to 24 year olds.

One also wonders what is happening to the further £2.1bn [of the £3.1bn] "to invest in people's futures and create more opportunities to help them get back to work" that Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform Tony McNulty mentioned ?

If you know, share it with our community in our WCU forum.

Is it all just spin ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 17/06/2009

I read an article on Guardian.co.uk today, where in response to the latest unemployment figures released today, business secretary Lord Mandelson said he welcomed the news that the rate of rising unemployment was slowing.

"It's an encouraging signal but there is at the same time too much unemployment and any difficulty people have in finding jobs requires the government to continue taking the action that we are in delivering real help in the job search and training for people who are affected," he said.

Once again, I hear the government spokesman saying they are taking action, but where is it ? How do we find out about it ? I asked again at my JobCentrePlus office last week when I signed on, what help they could offer me and I got the same reply, "we don't have anything yet, but we will let you know when we do".

How is this helping create jobs, get people back to work or pay our bills ? Taking Lord Mandelson's words "continue taking the action that we are" from his statement above, I would be tempted to interpret this as the government still don't have a clue of the reality of it all or what to do to fix it. Maybe if they were all made redundant, then perhaps they would understand better and this country might be better off as well !

More gloom ahead as things get worse

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 17/06/2009

The UK National Statistics Office released the latest unemployment figures this morning and, as expected, they show that unemployment is up and the more worrying fact, that the number of jobs available is down.

The figures show the largest quarterly fall in the number of people in employment since comparable records began in 1971. For the three months to April 2009 it was
down 271,000 over the quarter and down 399,000 over the year taking the unemployment rate to 7.2%. The number of unemployed people increased by 232,000 over the quarter and by 605,000 over the year, to reach 2.26 million.

Read the full report on the National Statistics Office web site UK unemployment figures (17th June 2009)

Clearly, we are not moving in the right direction, where are new jobs being created ? How is the government going to address this ? We have heard many anouncements in the press that the government is going to address the problem and pledges to invest funds to help achieve this, but I still don't see any signs of real action.

I came across an article the other day on the Human Resource Management (HRM) web site which included the following:

Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform Tony McNulty said:

"We understand that people are finding times tough, but we will not give up on them. That's why in last month's Budget we set aside a further £3.1bn to invest in people's futures and create more opportunities to help them get back to work.

"This includes the £1bn Future Jobs Fund which is aimed at preventing young people and other disadvantaged groups from ending up trapped in long-term unemployment.

"From tomorrow the Fund is open for business and we are calling on local authorities, social enterprises and the wider third sector to bid for money to create real, meaningful, jobs to help kick start careers."

The above article was dated the 12th May 2009, so where is this help ? Are the white collar unemployed classified under "other disadvantaged groups" or have we been forgotten ?

We would appreciate your comments, why not tell us what you think on our WCU forum or maybe you would prefer to send me an article for our blog.

Sales workshop

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 11/06/2009

Yesterday, I attended a workshop targeted at unemployed executives and senior managers who wanted to know more about working in the Sales Sector. It was jointly sponsored by JobcentrePlus, Portsmouth City Council and the University of Portsmouth and was held at the University of Portsmouth's Business School.

Professor Neil RackhamThe main workshop session was presented by consultant Professor Neil Rackham, "the professor of professional selling"  as his tag line on his web site describes him (http://neilrackham.com/). His main message was that the idea of a salesperson as a “talking brochure” is no longer valid and that the need now is for a "consultative salesperson" approach. He also presented a lot of other very useful and interesting material during the course of the workshop.

Key recruitment logoThe main workshop was followed by a number of other useful short presentations. The first was from Key Recruitment, who presented a few good tips for job searching, CV advice etc and answered a number of questions from the delegates.

Next was a short presentation from JobCentrePlus who related some of the history about how expertise in the JobCentrePlus organisation for support of white collar workers had been run down a few years ago but now they are trying to build it up again. Some information about a  new help scheme (e.g. CV writing skills, interview techniques etc) for white collar workers recently finding themselves unemployed (i.e. in the last 3 months) was presented. The delegates attending seemed to welcome this as a step in the right direction but raised their concerns about the lack of support for people who had been in this position for more than 3 months. (From the attendees I spoke to during the afternoon, this appeared to be the majority).      

Fast Forward logoThis was followed by a presentation from Portsmouth City Council who outlined some of the work being done currently to help people get back into work. One such scheme currently being piloted in the Portsmouth and Southampton area is called Fast Forward. I tracked down their website so you can take a look at www.fastforwardsupport.com.

GOALSUK logoThe penultimate presentation was from GOALS UK. They offer programmes  "to build independence, self-esteem, inner strength, personal responsibility, self-motivation and purposefulness - ultimately, to help people to get the life or job that they want. " http://www.goalsuk.org.

Finally a young lady from the Portsmouth University Business School wound things up with a few closing words and thanks to all etc.

The event was very well attended and personally, I thought it was very useful and overall felt it was a great success.

From my point of view, I found that networking with other people who are in the same situation with similar concerns was very useful. It is very reassuring and helpful to know that you are not the only person in this situation and it enables you to build common bonds and help each other (and preserve your sanity).

A major concern that I and many other unemployed people I have spoken to over the last few months, seem to share is the apparent lack of help available to our community at present. At long last it seems that something is starting to happen but I fear the assistance will take some time before it has any effect. This is already too late for some.

One major issue appears to be that although there may be some work going on in the background, there is a lack of communication of what help is available. Hopefully, indications are that Portsmouth is starting to doing something about it, it would be good to see something similar from Southampton however I checked with the Southampton JobCentrePlus office today and they informed me that they do not have anything like this is place yet.

I would like to point out that these comments are intended as constructive feedback of the perception of real unemployed people. A lesson I learnt many years ago in business is "give the customer what he/she wants, not what you think he/she wants", today this is called "Voice of Customer (VoC). You need to have good communications with the customer (i.e. in this case us, the unemployed) and ask questions in order to enable this. From my experience of unemployment so far, I'm not sure this is happening.

One of the objectives of the White Collar Unemployed Web site is to aid communication, raise awareness and be a portal for help for our community. If anyone has any details of future events, assistance, help or advice etc they would like to share, please send it to steve@whitecollarunemployed.co.uk and I will add it to the web site.

Why not send us your feedback about what you thought of the workshop ? You can email me or if you prefer, take it to the forum to discuss.

Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch !

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 09/06/2009

I just came across an interesting advertisement in the Portsmouth News advertising a free workshop and a free lunch. It is targetted at out of work executives and senior managers who would like to find out more about working in the sales sector. Take a look at the details on our new Events page.

I will endeavour to add more events like this as I come across them. If you know of any that you would like to share with our community, please let me know.

Doleberts Diary

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 07/06/2009

Hopefully by now, many of you will have noticed our latest addition to the site called Dolebert's Diary, the diary extracts of “Dolebert”, an ex-Company Director who is having a really tough time. Dolebert obviously wanted to remain anonymous but felt that he wanted to share his experiences as there must be others out there going through similar "challenges". He wanted to pass on any tips (e.g. like the Consumer Action Group), he has come across in his journey so far and reassure others that you are not alone!

If you have any questions for Dolebert or something to share or just some words of encouragment maybe, why not take it to our forum.

The big backlog

Disillusioned & desperate, White Collar Unemployed, 05/06/2009

There was an interview on the television today with the former head of the London Probation service who has recently resigned after failings in the system allowed an offender out of prison who subsequently went on to brutally murder two foreign students in London recently.

He suggested in the interview that the London probation system is totally overloaded and mentioned that probation officers were currently responsible for about 100 people each! This seems a clear indication that the service is under resourced.

This got me thinking. From my recent experiences of the unemployment system, it has taken the Department of Work and Pensions and my local Jobcentreplus, 14 weeks so far to decide if they are going to pay me any Job Seekers Allowance or not. A lot of the delay apparently was due to "a backlog" resulting from lack of staff.

I am also aware of similar problems at my local divorce court, again they have "a big backlog". The situation was worsened by an office move as well so this means several weeks of delays already and times to schedule new appointments add even more weeks to this. I have already been waiting for 7 months to resolve this, with no income at all for the last 14 weeks and still all my bills to pay, and now I still have to wait another 6 weeks for the next appointment.

The core problem seems to be that government offices are totally overwhelmed due to lack of staff. This seems ironic with all the unemployed in this country at the moment. I guess it comes down to the fact that the government has cut back their budgets so they can't afford the staff they really need. Unfortunately, it is the poor public who suffer again because of it!

What is this country coming to ? How long can this go on ?

New jobs channel

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 01/06/2009

Recently, I have come across a few interesting articles on the politics.co.uk web site and I just noticed that they have now included a jobs channel, where you can search for jobs and sign up for their jobs bulletin. Currently there are quite a few unpaid/voluntary vacancies listed and today I see that they added a paid position.

"Get back to work faster"

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 28/05/2009

Some of you may have already heard of Jill Konrath, author of a book called " Selling to big companies get back to work faster e-book picture". Well, a friend of mine who raves over that book, excitedly forwarded me an email the other day to tell me of a wonderful new book from the same author.

The book is called "Get back to work faster" and describes a new approach to helping you find a new job. I think the following extract from Chapter 1 of the book sums it up really well.

"Job hunting is a constant source of loss. You're always coming up short. Your future is totally out of your control. It's enough to make you go crazy.

Take Control of Your Life Again. If you’ve had enough of this miserable scenario, perhaps you're ready to try a new approach to help you get back to work faster. This proactive strategy puts you back in the driver's seat – on the road to find a perfect position for someone with your skills and talents."

I'm still reading it at the moment but I wanted to share this find with our community and let you all know that Jill Konrath is currently giving the e-book version of her book away for FREE so no time to waste, get downloading now ! Go to the Get Back To Work Faster website and download the Get back to work faster guide (you can click on the picture above to go directly to the download page - but remember to have a look at the rest of the site as well).

When you have read it, tell us what you think, write a review for our blog perhaps and discuss it on our forum ?

On-line job scams on the increase

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 23/05/2009

I just saw a report on BBC Breakfast this morning about the growing problem of on-line job scams. As the number of unemployed grows and job hunters get more desperate and more vulnerable, there are a growing number falling foul of such scams.

Top 10 job scam threats 2009 warning signs (courtesy of e-victims.org )

1. Work at home offers

2. Use Hotmail/Yahoo email accounts

3. Ask for money up front

4. Jobs forwarding money/goods

5. Poor English.

6. Use 07xx phone number

7. Ask for your bank details.

8. No company details

9. Get a job without an interview

10. If it sounds too good, or too easy to be true

The good news is that the UK police are already working with a number of the larger job search sites to identify these scams. SAFER, (Safe Advice for Employment and Recruitment), is the fraud forum set up by the recruitment industry in conjunction with the metropolitan police.

You need to be aware yourself and try not to leave yourself open to these people. Below are a few good simple tips I have come across recently, I'm sure there are more and if anyone has any suggestions, why not take it to the White Collar Unemployed (WCU) forum to discuss further.

On-line CVs can provide identity thieves most of the background info they need for a person.

Don't publish or provide your bank details, social security number, date of birth, marital status, number of children, and even your full address. Take this information out of your CV.

Generally, there is no need for any employer to have such information at this stage of the proceedings. Also, these days, with the anti-discrimination laws, there is still no need to provide a lot of this information anyway since it should not be used to make any decision to appoint someone into a particular job (e.g. your age).

If you get a positive response to your job application and you have established that they are a legitimate company (e.g. via Companies House), you can then provide more details if required.

Most importantly, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is ! Never send money up front.

Useful links:
UK Online Fraud Report 2009 – Courtesy of CyberSource

Is the Government really doing anything to help the white collar unemployed ?

Steve Wood, White Collar Unemployed, 21/05/2009

While putting this web site together, I had a dig back through some recent press articles to find a few relevent ones that I remember seeing in order to provide a bit of background information on some of the things our wonderful government is supposedly doing, to help all the unfortunate white collar workers who find themselves out of work.

Seems to me that they felt obliged to make some gesture of intent but they don't really know what to do. I remember reading that the government admitted that the Jobcentreplus system was only really intended to handle blue collar workers and that they were struggling to help white collar ones. Their solution I recollect was to involve recruitment agencies to handle this sector as they were supposed to be the experts at this.

Personally, from my experience so far, I'm not sure this is really working. In fact, I find this a constant source of frustration! In my case, it appears that the major obstacle is actually getting past the recruitment agencies. I have had less than 0.8% success rate for getting an interview from all the applications I have made so far, and that was with a company that advertised directly !

What has happened to all this promised assistance from the Government ? I found a few mentions in the press a few months ago of what they said they were going to do but I failed so far to find any indication that they have implemented anything.

Maybe you know differently ? What is your experience of the system ? Do you have any advice to share ? Maybe you can update our community on our forum if you do or else why not write an article for our blog and send it to me Contact us.

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