Make an effort, jobseekers warned


File photo dated 19/03/09 of a group of men outside a Job Centre Plus branch as a shortage of skilled workers in some industries is a

Jobseekers will have to take steps to make themselves employable before meeting with an adviser, or face benefit sanctions from the end of the month.

The Government said the improving jobs market meant it was time to start expecting more of people if they want to claim benefits.

Ministers said the move signalled a "fundamental shift" in expectations and would help put to an end the "one-way street" to benefits where people start claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) by just signing-on without first taking steps to make themselves attractive to employers.

From the end of this month, jobseekers will have to take "basic steps" to make themselves employable before meeting with a Jobcentre Plus adviser.

To prepare for their first interview with an adviser, jobseekers will be asked to do things like preparing a CV, setting up an email address and registering for the Government's new jobs website.

Ministers said the change will mean people start their JSA claim ready to look for work and will show they are serious about finding a job as quickly as possible.

Employment minister Esther McVey said: "With the economy growing, unemployment falling and record numbers of people in work, now is the time to start expecting more of people if they want to claim benefits.

"It's only right that we should ask people to take the first basic steps to getting a job before they start claiming Jobseeker's Allowance - it will show they are taking their search for work seriously.

"This is about treating people like adults and setting out clearly what is expected of them so they can hit the ground running.

"In return, we will give people as much help and support as possible to move off benefits and into work because we know from employers that it's the people who are prepared and enthusiastic who are most likely to get the job."

The Department for Work and Pensions said people who need it will also have more regular meetings with their Jobcentre Plus adviser - weekly rather than fortnightly.

Ministers said the new measures were being introduced as figures showed the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by over 363,000 on the year, which is the largest annual fall since 1998.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: "This government is already making life intolerable for people who are out of work, with a massive increase in the number of benefits sanctions for even minor transgressions.

"Instead of dreaming up new ways to turn the screw, ministers should be doing something about consistently high unemployment, a drastic shortage of job vacancies and the fact so many new jobs are low paid and insecure."

Phil Orford, chief executive of the Forum of Private Business, said: "With over a third of Forum of Private Business members looking to employ this year, today's announcement to ensure people are equipped with the essential tools for job hunting is very timely.

"Understanding what employers are looking for may well be the difference between getting a job and not.

"Regular meetings with Jobcentre Plus advisers will help people hone their job hunting technique and develop the basic attributes that all employers are looking for when recruiting."

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