20 March 2012

A Delightful Trip to the Local Jobcentre Plus

It seems that life is determined to take me full circle. Having started this blog with a post about the Jobseeker's Allowance, I can now confirm that I have taken the almighty step into my local 'sign on a die a bit' centre. This decision was not taken lightly - after looking for work for around eight months I finally decided that I probably deserved to be earning some kind of governmental benefit purely out of pity. So there we are, I have officially signed on. Well, that is if my application goes through. Because I have been doing part time work I'm not sure if it will - but the rules say that you can claim if you work less than 16 hours a week and are searching for full time work, which I am I am I am!

The centre itself was somewhat like a book. Do NOT judge it by it's cover. I have to say I was a bit nervous about the whole deal. Strangely, what popped into my head first was what to wear. How do I appear not so bedraggled that I am mistaken for one of the drunks who regularly collects their dole, yet not so smart that I seem well-off and get robbed on my way out? Decisions. In the end I went for a jeans and pumps option which seemed to do nicely as I'm still very much alive and the security guard didn't throw me out.

Once I'd passed an angry looking drunk man smoking a strangely pungent roll-up on my way in I suddenly realised that I wasn't actually in a hell hole. Quite the opposite in fact. The room looked new and clean and it was quiet yet weirdly, very weirdly, friendly. I signed in and plonked myself down on a comfy sofa, feeling rather better than I had ten minutes ago. The butterflies flew off and I waited calmly to be seen.

While sitting and waiting for twenty minutes however, the cracks began to appear. Firstly, the over-abundance of security guards became a bit of an alarm bell. In a room about twenty by eight  metres big, there were at least ten guards. They were all very friendly looking but I couldn't help wondering why quite so many of them were needed. Then, as I was ushered into a small office room to meet my advisor I was faced by a one inch thick pane of what I can only presume was bullet-proof glass. As I passed my documents through the tiny slit in the window and signed a million forms I imagined how many angry jobseekers there were. I felt like I was in a prison at visiting hours. Angry as I was, I wasn't about to shoot 'em up.

Finally, when asked what kind of jobs I was looking for I have to admit I felt darned stupid answering 'editorial assistant roles in journalism or publishing'. Apparently, that job spec isn't even on the national Jobseekers Plus computer system. Timidly I added, 'or PA/secretarial roles' to downplay the 'I'm a posh twat with a degree' side of my application. After being handed a flyer about a local job fair where I was told I could apply for roles at Greg's the bakery, I left the centre as hurriedly as possible with some sense of my pride intact. Not that I mind working in a shop, I just applied to a job in the new Westfield, only, I could have found out that gem of a work opportunity on my own thanks.

So I haven't moved far from square one... it's all snakes and ladders really and I was never much good at that game. I am waiting for hear back from an interview I had with a small publishing company for an internship. It would be amazing, nay spectacularly amazing if I got the job. I'll keep you posted.

7 March 2012

Snobs We Are Not!

It's official says the Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Daily Mail and even the Metro... graduates these days are NOT stuck-up job/education snobs who are unwilling to take on a job they believe is beneath them. According to BBC Education reporter Judith Burns, "recent graduates are more likely to be working in lower-skilled jobs than they were 10 years ago, new figures suggest." 

So no more of this grad hating please. Stop moaning that we are too proud to work in Tesco or the Pound Shop after having spent £3,500 a year (now more like £9,000 may I remind you) on a full time degree because, actually, many of us are doing just that. Well, more of us than were doing so 10 years ago anyway. We're waiters, promotions staff, shelf-stackers and call centre workers. 

So next time you try blaming us for our unemployment, think twice.

One stand-out statistic shows that the most worthwhile degrees to take are definitely practical. Medicine and dentistry come out on top in terms of wage per hour, closely followed by mathematical sciences, architecture and engineering. And where does History stand? Second from last, beating only the Arts. Typical! Why didn't someone tell me this before I spent over £12,000? In all honesty though I could never have been a doctor. I can't even talk about needles, let alone administer them - I fainted like the pansy I am when  had my BCG for goodness sake. Dentistry doesn't exactly appeal to me either come to think of it. Though I can't imagine staring into random strangers open mouth chasms is that appealing to anyone. 

Maybe I should have chosen a healthy medium and studied law. Law graduates seem to be doing OK. I reckon I could settle a few over-the-fence disputes for £16.95 an hour. Actually just saying those words made me yawn. Or is it the fact that it is 23:30 and I should be asleep? No, pretty sure it's the law thing. 

Still, those of us who are employed seem to be doing better than non graduates who are earning far less than those with a degree. According to the recent research, the average non-graduate hourly wage is £8.92 - which is still more than I, and most waiting staff, earn per hour - but far less than the average graduate wage of £15.18 per hour. Considering the fact that a third of graduates are in 'low skilled' jobs and graduate unemployment is at roughly 25%, it is clear that the lucky ones employed in the above mentioned career areas are the ones earning all the money. Not that studying medicine for 7 years and getting a job is lucky - no one will deny the work that goes into that. 

It's a shame I wasn't cut out for the mathematical sciences or for blood and guts surgery. I'm a word-smith. My brain functions in other ways. Do I deserve to be punished for this? Ha, probably just for the pure arrogance of that sentence. Seriously though, stop with the grad-bashing culture of blame and don't forget that we are all in this together. And to all you unemployed grads out there... keep a little bit of pride. No matter what they say.