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The Fairy Jobmatron

On the Guardian site, after the first show of this ridiculous woman's second series I posted this. It's not grammatically sound and I don't really know why I didn't port it over to this blog, but that link presents my vitriol against this ludicrous TV 'show' in all it's grammatically challenged glory.

The second show now confirms to me that Hayley Taylor, in full David Brent guise, is neither an expert in unemployment nor in human contact. How someone can flit from scolding hard faced cow offering tough love as a patronising salve to confidante and councillor in the same camera frame I do not know. I'd be inclined to describe her as almost schizoprhenic. One minute she's giving her 'clients' (in the Hannibal Lecter sense of the word) the willies by talking about how the government plan to make them all work for their benefits while require they still attend their jobsearch responsibilities, then, after one poor girl starts crying, pretends to be here to help with a bit of hand holding. At best it's pop psychology, at worst it's irresponsible ignorance of client emotional issues (which, if you're dealing with the long term unemployed, is probably an important skill).

After that public relations disaster we learn that one of the 'clients' is homeless and, right at the start of their two week 'course' in jobseeking gets a 6 month JSA sanction. The exact reasons why are not explained at all, but what's worse is that this situation, leaving someone penniless and homeless for 6 months, is swept under the carpet very quickly - even the lad himself soon settles into the course routine and his troubles are all but forgotten. He is simply advised to make a claim for hardship payments (JSA less 40% with no guarantee of the claim going through).

What's disturbing here isn't that this isn't believable - in fact this is exactly the sort of thing that's happening right now - but that the case was all but dismissed. I'm highly suspicious not just of how Taylor handled the lad's case, but whether it was real in the first place. Firstly, if that was me I'd be climbing the fucking walls! No money for six months, nowhere to live! So I'm a little suspicious of the lad's (no disrespect to him) albeit shellshocked reaction - it was almost as if it were expected. But worst of all was Taylor's complete ineptitude: here's a very real crisis of the sort very real jobseekers have to face. All she did, aside from present her perennial look of 'well what do you expect, I'm a hard faced cow', was to ring the JC and then hand him the phone to deal with it! No discussion at all. Then he's left to apply for hardship and still attend the course.

Hold on! Isn't this situation and absolutel priority above Taylor's ridicuylous TV career? Why isn't she, if she believes in helping people, pulling out all the stops to get some kind of reprieve or help for the lad? At least that way he can properly focus on the course which otherwise he can't possibly be expected to do, having to worry about where his next meal or bed for the night is going to be found.

Not even a direction to the nearest CAB, posthaste, to get them on the case! Extraordinary.

The rest of the show moves through the predictable, glib and superficial routine established in episode 1. There are some ups and downs. The inevitable clash of personalities - all the more tedious given that ALL such instances are the sole fault of Taylor's bullish attitude. A facile and harmless release of laughter is turned into an episode of officious and pedantic recrimination, blown out of all proportion (ironically! :D). We get the usual 'me time' moment where Taylor is inexplicably invited into one of the client's houses to discuss their patently obvious issues (a young couple, both out of work, with the responsibility of a young child, the mother of whom is emotionally vulnerable).

Sometimes I wonder if this show isn't some kind of sick joke by jaded media types at channel 4, having a laugh, Shirley Ghostman style, at the unemployed.

The last hurdle Taylor's acolytes must surpass before their inexplicable and inevitable workplace interviews (jobs miraculously acquired without explanation from a dwindling marketplace with no explanation of how they were sourced) is to stand in front of the local Church Elders in their sunday best. A tribunal of local bigwigs: mayors, business mavens, i'm sure there's a pastor in there somehwere, and of course...Taylor. The clients, in their best thrift store 'interview clothes' (following a scene where Taylor vets their clothing like some kind of DWP Gok Wan - that'll boost their confidence then!) are presented, one by one, like some bizarre deb ball, to plead their case to society. All of whom say the exact same thing 'I feel i've got something to offer' and all of whom are accepted by the tribunal with grace. Even the young mum manages to get through without a nervous breakdown, how cute. All thanks to Taylor's coaching - of which we see precisely nothing. No exercises in CBT, no therapy or counselling sessions are shown. I guess Taylor must be really good! It's all so convincing.

Then the jobs appear! Vacancies in the local area, such as part time cleaner, apprentice joiner, washer upper in a hotel, are sourced by Taylor without explanation as to where or how. Not once do we even see the clients do any actual job searching. No discussion of how to effectively search or deal with the ridiculous DWP jobsearch engine.

Here's where the show gets utterly bizarre: the jobs, one for each client, are portioned out so that 2 clients apply for each job. This includes the homeless lad who, more than anyone else, needs an income. Nowhere are they encouraged to each apply for all the jobs, to incrase their chances - as is standard DWP policy! Instead the aforementioned is given the most difficult job: the apprentice joiner which has the stiffest competion (80 applicants).

Then we get to see them turn up for their interviews - dressed immaculately in clothes I can only assume the production team forked out for as they weren't the Taylor-approved attire they could afford on JSA. That's not mentioned either. From a back room, Taylor gets to listen in to the interview, turning to camera and offering praise when the client does EXACTLY what she wants them to (handshake offered too high? You don't deserve the job!), or making acerbic criticisms behind their back if they get a little nervous or flustered. It's ghastly and in fact quite nasty.

The final, predictable, end to this charade is that all (except one, Tim, a 50 year old former lab technician and small business owner, the most experienced candidate of all and the most quiet), found work. This isn't surprising, the rest were half Tim's age, even though he comported himself perfectly well during the interviews (to be fair, they all did - though they weren't applying for particularly expert or specialist jobs). Surprise, surprise as to who gets to be an apprentice joiner.

Honestly the show is a joke. As the credits roll we are given a glib status report, though there's no mention of what happens when his apprenticeship ends, or how much he gets paid during (or the standard of the other 80 applicants). I guess so long as it lasts more than 6 months he'll do fine!

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