BEING UNEMPLOYED IN MANCHESTER


In Manchester, there are an estimated 44.613 people out of work at present (August 2007), 2.8% of the adult population, slightly above the national average. I am one of those statistics.


Despite my degree, and over a decade of warehouse work experience, getting a job is proving terrifyingly difficult for me at present. There are a number of factors behind this. My age, 45, my degree being in the Humanities subjects of literature and philosophy does not make it too vocational, and much of my work experience has been through temping agencies which has fragmented my CV with lots of jobs that have involved me being hired for as little as a few hours, weeks or months.


With my CV (which you can read online) so convoluted, many employers don’t even invite me to interviews. Those who do call me in then give me an application form to complete which often ask for a fraction of what my CV has to say. (Why do they ask for CV’s if they are going to have you repeat the information in another format anyway?).


Some application forms want only your last few jobs to be listed, and my last few official jobs were on very short-term contracts, and therefore not the best ones for representing what can offer. My longer periods of service are from earlier in my life, (not that much earlier – I’m only talking 2003 here).


Some employers have a policy of seeking references from every boss you had over anything from 5 to 10 years, so if you had more than two previous jobs, they dismiss your application from not wishing to have to request too many references. I have had 17 jobs in five years. I’m as quickly dismissed as someone who has just done nothing in that time period.  One recent interviewer knew this from seeing my CV when I sent it by e-mail, but still sent me an application form and interviewed me for an hour before telling me that she could not hire me because of this.


At an interview with the CIS insurance company, I found that they don’t count anything that happened more than five years ago, including any educational qualifications gained before 2002.  This meant that I was unable to tell them on the application form that I had a degree gained in 1980. I might as well have failed in my education. Their stance was extremely ageist. They clearly want college leavers who have had relatively little experience in the job market rather than older people like me.


Another interview involved me travelling on four buses to an office where I was asked to sign a form that would state whether I was interested in receiving further information or not. That was it – no interview, no questions. It was a totally wasted journey. At another interview, the employer asked me nothing other than what my star sign was. She decided that Aquarians were likely to give her bad vibes. I walked out on that one. At least she inspired one of my poems AQUARIANS ONLY NEED APPLY.   There is nothing worse than being kept in unemployment by idiots who somehow got jobs that they simply cannot do.


I was unemployed before, when I first left school, at the height of Thatcherism in Britain when there were three million people on the dole.  While things have improved since those dark days, the claims that unemployment is going down fill me with anger. A visit to the job centres shows how many people queue up to use the job point’s daily.  The days when you could glance at the jobs on a notice board are over – the job centres use touch screen menus that are very slow to download and access. These also do not often give the direct contact details of the employers, but expect you to get those from a Job centre staff member first, which mean more queuing. The job pages are rarely updated efficiently, so you find the same jobs listed day after day, often long after a vacancy has been filled.


Another problem is the rising waves of migrant workers. I am not anti-immigration. I am concerned at the extent to which the Government is prepared to exploit naďve migrants who are eager to take jobs at the ‘National Minimum Working Wage’, which many companies greedily exploit as the least they can legally get away with paying their staff. Though I myself am desperate enough at present to work for such a lousy wage packet, many employers suspect that I would be quick to move on to richer pickings, and so they dismiss my application forms in favour of trapping someone else.


Unemployment stats are undoubtedly manipulated. A lot of people don’t claim benefits, or find themselves denied the right to claim them. A move from Income Support to Job-seeker’s allowance can knock figures down, and the DSS will also send dolites on course and training programs that are often just a limbo between periods of being a more official unemployment stat. Unemployment may well be considerably higher in Manchester and nationally than the Government would have us believe.


                                    RELATED LINKS National unemployment statistics. Manchester statistics. (Interesting quotation) “A Job Centre in Bolton demanded that "friendly" be removed from a job ad on the basis that it discriminates against the unfriendly - "enthusiastic" and "motivated" have also been victims of similar bans. While my personal view is that these words do little harm (or good. Does anyone ever decide not to apply for a job they want because they read "motivated" and think "good point, that's not me"?), the minor furore this caused showed how ridiculous this stuff is.”


 See also SLAVERY FOR THE UNEMPLOYED – How and why the jobless in the UK are being forced to work for nothing.

Arthur Chappell