Originally published in Boston Jobcentre’s internal District Good News story section in December 2014.
Boston Jobcentre is officially ready to enter the digital age.
Claimants will now be able to use computers in the Jobcentre free of charge, as well as free wi-fi accessible from their own devices, with all of the Jobcentre’s services available in one place after the revamp.
The changes were showcased in a launch event where over 50 employers met and were introduced to the modern workings of a Jobcentre.
Bryan Cole, District Operational Manager for the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “The purpose of today was to show employers the benefits of what our digitisation can bring to employers, and also to claimants.
“I was really pleased with how today went. For some employers it was about reinforcing that nature of working together; for others it was actually the first time they’ve come to a Jobcentre, and they saw what we were able to offer.
It was a bit of a myth-busting exercise too, showing how we really work.
Electronic signing pads are now in effect in Boston while computers that bring all Jobcentre services into one device have been fitted, with 6,000 job search computers set to be installed across Britain.
The Worshipful Mayor of Boston, Cllr Alison Austin, attended the event and had a “very interesting day”, saying “it’s important that I learn as much as I can about what effects the people in the town, the lives of people.”
Cllr Austin added: “The Jobcentre is there to work with employers and places like the Volunteer Bureau, getting people to have more confidence in themselves, and to go out and take an active role in the community.
“Even if you can’t get everyone into paid employment, you can get them into volunteering and that at least means they’re doing something.”
Hazel James, who works in admin and recruitment for Boston’s Marks & Spencer store, held an event at the Jobcentre to advertise for a temporary Christmas job earlier this year.
“It was a real eye-opener to me,” Ms James said. “I knew there were a lot of people out of work, but I was quite humbled really. There were 30 people turn up for a three-week job, 26-hours a week. I went back and I felt like I really wanted to give everyone a job.
“You come here and it is all very welcoming and the new computers just make it even more useful for people looking for work.
“My perception of the Jobcentre has changed because I didn’t really know what to expect, if I’m honest.”
Julie Marklew, a shop assistant at Marks & Spencer, adds: “After today I would definitely tell people looking for work to come here, especially with all the IT and digital services. Because even if you have got the internet at home, having everything in one place makes it easier to eventually find work.
“And the staff here seem genuinely interested in getting people back into work and a career, rather than just getting them a job and being done with them.”
After they were shown a short presentation on the history and evolution of the Jobcentre, employers were given time to discuss how the Jobcentre would help them in recruitment and the services the Jobcentre offers.
Geoff Middleton, CEO of the charitable trust Work Based Learning Alliance which mainly deals in creating partnerships in work-based learning, said: “Events like today are a really good idea.
“Networking is crucial to us. We’re thinking about employer engagement more and more, trying to convince employers to take young people on apprenticeships, and traineeships, and taking on more mature people with training attached to it.
“The world is all about developing skills, and everyone needs to be connected to that. In the presentation this morning, it showed that unskilled, low-skilled work was huge in this country in the 1940s, 50s and 60s – it isn’t anymore. You can’t afford to not have any skills.”
Bryan Cole added: “Employers were quite surprised by the range of services we have on offer. Whether that be in work experience, the Help to Work programme, and other financial support in helping them get a job.
“In the past, some businesses might not have worked with us but today we’ve hopefully shown that we are looking to help them in any need they have. Their business is our business, because we’re here to support them.”