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Programmed - Intro Leaflet Breakdown

I really am not looking forward to being conscripted. The worst part is that I have to sit around waiting for the damned phone to ring. That could happen anytime, calling me up for service. I don't deal with that situation well at all. Of course they don't think about things like this, instead you get a referral letter warning you of the consequences of failure. Same old stick no carrot.

On top of that I have a leaflet from the Jobfit people, the standard minimal pre-induction crap. It's worth a closer look because I suspect that, if actually called into question, wouldn't be taken seriously at all.

Firstly it says "Removing Barriers" talking about a professional service tailored to each individual's needs and supporting customers to overcome any personal problems and issues preventing them from working. Good to know, then, that I'll be dealing with trained therapists, counsellors and psychologists (like the person I have been dealing with who tells me her voice carries no weight with these people). It's not tailored at all; my first need is dealing with having to travel to the venue which is a) not local and b) a great source of anxiety. Of course they aren't going to respect that, the Jobcentre don't. Yet previous organisations that I have dealt with (independent from the benefits system, which is a major difference) were able to meet in a mutually agreeable public location like a cafe and were happy to do so. It would probably be cheaper for them. But as this is being handled by Jesus and Co. it's not likely they'll shift. I pray forgiveness for them.

"Championing Ability" tells me that they will recognise my skills and abilities with a view to building on them and applying them to the labour market. Well there's the first problem, I don't want to be marketplace chattel and fodder. That's not the human experience I signed up thanks very much. But really, what are the odds they will provide training?

Then it tells me about "Delivering Sustainability" in respect of achieving long-term employment outcomes. So that should be not forcing me into a job I don't want and aren't suited for.

Three straightforward principles right off the bat that already I'm extremely sceptical about. Perhaps I'm just too cynical. These days? Yeah, right! Now we have the "Customer Minimum Service Standards", helpfully printed in green and black.

I will be made to feel welcome and treated with respect with the chance to have feedback received appropriately. I shall certainly hold them to this right off the bat. If they can't respect the conditions and issues (the ones they claim they can cure as just explained) then already we have a problem.

Next it tells me about the 'welcome call' wherein I will be told when to turn up for the first induction appointment, oh joy. Well again we have a problem: limited bus services make the already troublesome issue of travel difficult, I doubt they will take that into account (especially as local funding cuts mean the timetable will be completely rewritten in a couple of weeks). Then a letter to follow this along with an 'induction pack'. Goody!

I'm also told that I can expect good quality advice and guidance about careers (presumably the ones they approve of that aren't of my choosing, despite all the above promises) and the resultant action plans and steps I will of course be expected to follow in pursuit of that. Great, I hate all that shit. It's pointless because you can't plan outcomes for job applications, and it's only there to give these people some purpose while they tell you what to do under threat of sanctions (which of course they don't mention in their service standards).

Then we got to the creating/updating/rubbishing your existing CV section, application forms (thanks but I can manage to answer a series of sensibly asked and worded questions, that isn't the problem I have). It also mentions, along with the usual rubbish about interview techniques (be polite, pretend to be interested, don't dress up in Nazi uniform or covered in excrement, hope that your interviewer isn't a twat) as well as 'accessing the hidden jobs market'. What the hell is this? Hidden jobs? This sounds like more rubbish to me: if employers want staff they'll advertise as broadly as their remit allows. If a job really is hidden it's because it's internal and they don't want John Q. Jobcentre applying for it, it could be a specialist position advertised in trade magazines. What a waste of time: they try to make it sound as if it's some special knowledge they, as a provider, have access to that, if you're good enough, you might be blessed with accessing. Again it's this complication of the issue that makes the problem.

I can also expect to see my adviser fortnightly, much like the Jobcentre who do the same thing, to 'make sure' I'm getting the support I need 'and moving forward to get a job' - that last bit sounds rather sinister! What if you can't move forward at that moment? What if your problems are really getting on top of you? What if your anxiety is getting the best of you? What then? Prayer? Confidence Building Seminar with Mike Dynamo that will pick you up in some superficial radio 1 stylee? Some issues are a bit more serious and a bit deeper than can be tackled with NLP or buzzwords bandied about? But hey, let's all think positive party people! Corporate bollocks is great! Ugh, not for me - again the sort of thing that makes my (apparent) neurodiverse/aspergers/not aspergers/add/what the fuck it is go into overdrive.

To top it all off there's the codifying of the above into an action plan which no doubt I'll be compelled to sign (along with all the other stuff which may or may not be optional, as others have discovered). Finally there's mention of the complaint's procedure: a string of increasingly more powerful line managers culminating in an independent case examiner. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. This final part contains one of the most curious parts of all: the plain it speaks of details "the level of contact and support that you and the employer have agreed to, once offered a job". How many employers are going to want to be in this position when, as is more likely, they can choose someone else that doesn't have all this baggage attached? More importantly what happens to someone like me in that position, no doubt I will be seen as not having played my part! This is sinister. At the very least this kind of required (as it seems) employer participation means that the jobs available to you will be limited, so again what kind of choice will I have over my own future?

No doubt I have been rather negative throughout all this, but that's because I can see straight through the rhetoric from the get go. We all know how much bollocks some of that is, but it's still written. Will they take it seriously? Well they will pay lip service to it, but when it comes to concrete action I doubt they will do more than most people these days and pass the buck. That's the corporate culture these days; you get it every time you ring up a call centre. This is no doubt part of the reason places like Jobfit subcontract; if there's a complaint it just gets pushed back and forth and never dealt with. The JC can't deal with it as the Work Programme effectively neuters them, that's why The Psychologist can't get involved (though she could at least try, it wouldn't have hurt).

My guard is up and I shall be holding them to account on every part of this. We've heard all along how great this scheme is, from the likes of ratface Grayling, so I expect it to deliver. But even from the get go they aren't respecting me. I suspect it'll be no different to my time (mercifully short) with Working Links a few years ago: all smiles and support until you got there and then a complete about face that left me questioning my own sanity!


  1. Afraid you are not cynical enough.. My advice is keep copies of everything, ask for copies of all that you sign.

    Removing barriers, Some yes, but transport issues external barriers that you have no control over you cant do anything about that.. and neither can they. Its the same crap you get with all providers, They put the blame on YOU. rather than the system..

    1. I certainly will be asking for those things.

      We in rural areas always get screwed by stuff like this. but it's odd that previoous companies could come out and compromise on location where now, despite the supposed flexibility of this scheme, they (presumably) won't. No doubt they'll say it costs money. Unlike refunding bus fares, of course.

      I don't think it's possible to be too cynical these days.

  2. A few years ago i was going through a messy divorce, her lawyers wanted me to just sign the last page of the divorce, there were 10 loose pages.. I signed every page and numbered them. I learned that you need a copy for yourself. for your records (use that phrasing for my records). And since there has been fraud in these schemes, you want to protect yourself and if something does happen to prove fraud.. then you have got documents to prove your point.

    1. Don't worry i intend to keep my eyes on these people. I won't let them take me down without a fight.


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