On the 8th of August 2012, the DWP very quietly announced its intention to launch a scheme it called the "Universal Jobmatch".
This scheme, they stated, was intended to "streamline" (alarm bells always ring in my head whenever I hear that word) the current job search system, making it easier for bother prospective employees and employers to access available positions and jobseekers by visiting a single place.
The first I heard about this was on the afternoon of the 8th of November, when I went to sign on at the Jobcentre, or, more specifically, only when I asked what "UJ account approved" meant on a form that I had slid across the desk to me, which, due to the fact that the form requested personal information irrelevant to my claim for JSA (for example, asking for NINOs, addresses and DOBs of relatives) I left mostly blank, and refused to provide the information verbally either.
The explanation went along the lines of this:-
"Its a new scheme that was announced in parliament during the summer. Basically its going to replace jobseeker direct and the job points here"
When I pressed the issue further (which made the guy whom I was talking to uncomfortable) I was told:-
"After the 19th of November we will send you a text to let you know the scheme has gone live. Everyone claiming JSA will have to go to the Direct.gov site and make an account on there, giving your skills, qualifications and experience, from there your skills and stuff will be given a score out of five, then the system will show you what jobs are available in your area that match your score so you can apply for them. Then, whenever you come to sign on, we can quickly see what you have applied for and follow up on them."
This in itself doesn't sound too bad, but when I asked again about the reasons behind them wanting my relatives personal info, my question was rebuffed, leading me to be highly dubious of their motives, so I did a little digging around to see just what this "Universal jobmatch" thing was all about.
The first thing a Google search throws up is THIS , which is the "official" (and rather worryingly brief) statement of affairs from the DWP website, along with a link to an FAQ document. reading through these two items, again, everything seems fairly above board, however, looking at the other Google hits tells a slightly different story.
The first one to come to my attention was THIS blog post, which describes how originally, the universal jobmatch scheme was intended to simply be an additional tool for job seekers to use in their jobsearch, but then was changed to become a mandatory part of the job seekers agreement, a fact which has been hurriedly covered up by a recent, and unannounced, change to the DWPs FAQ document.
In addition, reading further it seems that this universal jobmatch scheme is being operated without consideration for personal privacy laws and regulations, and in addition to this, the scheme is to be overseen by US based "Monster Worldwide", a company which also runs the US version of jobmatch through the website www.usajobs.gov . It should be noted here that while running the USAjobs website, Hackers managed to steal the personal information of 4.5 million registered users due to poor site security, fills you with confidence huh?
So, in addition to concerns about personal info being lost or stolen, which as we all know has never happened before *rolleyes*, what does this mean to the ordinary joe who is just looking for work?, well, unfortunately, CONSEQUENCES WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN!!1!!!!one!1!11!!.
As I have stated, the implementation of the UJ scheme is a mandatory part of the job seekers agreement (or at least will be after 19/11/2012) so thus all job seekers will be expected to use the website, which is fine and dandy so long as you have Internet access (this is addressed and neatly sidestepped in the DWPs FAQ document, question #3 to be precise), however, as it is expected/assumed that you will be able to find something to apply for on there, it does not take into account other jobsearch websites, such as jobsite.co.uk, indeed.co.uk and many others.
What does this mean?, well, lets say that in one 2 week period, you apply for only one position through the UJ system, but then apply for a dozen other vacancies through an external job search website, or directly with an employer through their website, your job centre advisor will only be able to see a single application, as the general rule of thumb is that job seekers should be applying for at least 4 jobs in the two week period, this will mean that "proof" of job search has not been adequately shown on their system (and remember folks, the system is never wrong !!!!!), the advisor has more than enough reason to use you as a means to hit their target for slapping you with "sanctions" , because as we all know these days, its all about hitting those targets, regardless of whether its lawful or not.
Personally, i do think that the IDEA of the UJ scheme is sound, but as past experience has taught us, the DWPs target driven environment, coupled with poor training of staff as well as the DWPs poor understanding of the job market will mean that the scheme will probably end up worse for job seekers than the current work program gravy train, in which the DWP is managing to fiddle the unemployment figures by saying that people are being sent on non-existant "training courses" presided over organisations such a A4E, Serco and many others....then of course you have the whole situation regarding the victimisation of those unable to work by ATOS, but that's another story....