The skills to pay the bills….

THE Government finally told us what those who ever signed up to Jobskills knew – it was a waste of their time and taxpayers’ money. There’s a discussion on the political and economic arguments surrounding the civil service here, but doesn’t everyone have a Jobskills story to tell? Personally, I found it a bit of a joke, and here’s why…After graduating, I was lucky enough to be able to continue with my part-time McJob until something better turned up. I was sending out CVs and applying for loads of jobs, but wasn’t having any luck.

As a lack of experience in my chosen field seemed to be the problem, I thought I’d better get some.

I’d done a bit of work experience in a local paper as part of the degree, so I asked them if they’d let me come in and see how it’s done, which they did. Eventually, on my days off from the part-time work, I’d work in the paper for nothing, to get to know the ropes.

Then someone mentioned Jobskills.

The deal seemed to be that rather than get paid nowt for the work, you’d get ‘paid’ a small benefit but have to work towards a GNVQ (or something) at the same time.

The dole plus a tenner a week, plus still able to work the weekends in the old part-time job (while living at home) wasn’t much, but enough to get by for a while. Dandy.

Unfortunately, you were also required to go to these, well, classes is the closest description, but since I never learned anything useful in them, I’m not sure it’s the right word. They were held once a week. The main problem was, that the training firm didn’t offer any ‘classes’ in anything remotely relevant to what I was doing. Or anyone else.

Anyway, it was a complete waste of my time and theirs, so I never bothered going after ‘Heath & Safety 4’. I was bored to tears. Myself and the ‘teacher’ (someone from a year or two above me in school) couldn’t have cared less about the material we had to read through in the small office the ‘class’ was held in.

It ended up I was basically working more for less than I was getting before. It was OK for me to do this for a while to get to know what’s what, but it isn’t exactly enticing.

Given the costs involved in getting to work, I think I would have been better off financially to have never signed up to the scheme and stayed with the part-time job while popping into the paper when I could – or even do nothing at all, except sign on.

But I liked what I was doing, so I just carried on. I realise the scheme wasn’t really designed for me, but the learning aspect the provider was obliged to force upon those who signed up was totally irrelevant to the others in the class too. Few attended.

Any benefit that myself and others got was from being in the place of employment. It worked both ways. Employers got a steady supply of cheap labour, while the trainee got the experience. I’d arranged my own placement, but I pity anyone that couldn’t and ended up with the kind of factory work I landed into on a previous ‘training’ scheme. Some got paid something for their efforts from the company they were placed with, but eventual job success seemed to have little to do with the training ‘provider’ and a lot to do with employers.

In the end, I got lucky. Someone left the company I was placed with, so I applied for their job (which I had been doing for a year anyway) and got it.

It really doesn’t surprise me that Jobskills was a shambles in so many ways. It was like a middleman sticking its nose in, and a rather pointless one too. That’s just my own rather unexciting experience. I’m sure it helped a lot of people get their foot on the bottom rung, but the horror stories are plentiful.

Got one?