Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Up To The Job

There's been some noises about the government's new jobsearch website the Universal Jobsmatch. You can not apply anywhere to be a consulting Autistic which gives you the privilege of introducing yourself as "YourName, Autistic". You either are or you aren't and if you see this position advertised, it's probably fake, like a substantial minority of the jobs on Universal Jobsmatch, of which some brief history is needed.

A few months ago Jobcentres started handing out instructions to their advisors to promote the website 'Indeed.co.uk'. Despite what they may have stated- this is not a job-search site any more than Google News is a newspaper or news organisation. It's a site which data-mines from real job-search sites, as many as possible, with the effect(intentional or not) of stealing their traffic. It survives off the work others do and the expenses they make for server space. Commercially lucrative, ethically off-putting and of questionable utility. I had a very tense and unusually confrontational conversation with the new advisor I had been assigned to about it. I've not seen her again, but her understanding of how this site was actually working was inadequate and she was misleading her clients about how useful it would be to them. If you search for something, Indeed.co.uk does not filter very well for relevance and will bring back literally thousands of results, sometimes duplicates, which the user must then filter through manually.

The government liked this site so much they decided to hire the people behind Monster.co.uk to make them one just like it and thus Universal Jobsmatch was born.

To add cherries on this ruined pudding they wanted to also monitor jobseekers, with the long-term goal of shutting down Jobcentres and also keeping the old system of their own DWP vacancy database but with more accessibility to employers. It's not so much the accessibility though that is likely to have caused the recent problems, especially as it is not all that accessible at all and users still keep reporting issues, it's that this release has come with fanfare and publicity...in the age of the Internet. Particularly Web 2.0, which has defined itself as a backlash against pretentious post-modernism and pretentious self-ironic criticism of post-modernism. First clowns are funny. Then clowns are funny because they are un-funny. Then clowns are funny because they know they are un-funny. Finally clowns are funny because the Internet says they are child molesters. That's the level we are on when examining the Internet hive-mind.

Attracting the attention of that amorphous mass is the worst thing you can do, unless you are a cat or otherwise memetically infallible like Batman, Stephen Colbert and the Old Spice Guy(NO ONE took the piss out of his amateurish public audition for the as yet non-existent role of Luke Cage in a future Marvel Comics film, because he's the Old Spice Guy and he should be Luke Cage). Yet this is essentially what Universal Jobsmatch did. The result?

A problem was revealed that was already a problem to begin with. Nothing actually changed but the participants. What was the problem then? That the jobs market is not policed. It is illegal to advertise fake vacancies but no one enforces the law. You'll note that all the DWP has so far done is take the reported and obvious infringements down, there's not been an indication that they'll track down the culprits and prosecute. If they did, then they would have to explain the unknown number of false vacancies which are put out by recruitment, telemarketing and employment agencies to farm CVs, usually for contact details. Putting hobbies down on a CV didn't use to actually be a thing until a rather short time ago. Employers don't really need to know them, nor do they actually want to except in very narrow circumstances. Who does want to know them? Telemarketers, basically. They want to know what your interests are on top of your name and address so crap can be advertised to you.

So it's interesting that whilst the government don't want to actually clamp down on this, the Universal Jobsearch website does warn against users giving out precisely those kinds of details. It's currently a hostile environment for the CV-farmers because the DWP have been forced to act because of public outrage that was non-existent when it was just them flooding the Jobcentre database with false vacancies, but the novelty for pranksters will wear off soon. Then they can go back to the way things were.

Then the government will just simply let them. Don't expect the mainstream media to bother keeping the momentum on this going, or expose the scandal of the unregulated jobs market. The pranks have revealed misuse of the database to be all too easy and in fact always has been. 

EDIT: By the way, many have been saying that Universal Jobsmatch is not mandatory and the Jobcentre said as much to me in regards to consenting to have your activity monitored. However- I was told that I would have to bring in a lot more jobsearch evidence than before if I did not consent, with a threat of sanction if I didn't. They didn't specify what exactly they were looking for and I don't own a printer. Similar threats are made to people to 'volunteer' for the completely non-mandatory work experience initiatives.


  1. There has been some concern expressed about your welfare after your "this will be my last Christmas" comment on the Guardian,I hope you are OKish-some regulars have developed their own respite service-


  2. As far as I can make out,under UC,given the complete removal of housing support,on any earnings at all-whilst under the terrible system for some years I worked parttime and received IS and CA,maintaining a link with the work environment as they suggest-I would /will be far worse off on any work-they have destroyed any possibility if it arose of me returning to work.