Ousted IT blogger hits jobcentre

This is the second part of a series of blogs a guest blogger is writing for the Inside Outsourcing blog. He was replaced at the company he worked at by an offshore supplier.

See part one.

Situation: vacant part two:

by  I.T. Jobseeker

For me, one of the most depressing aspects of redundancy is the fortnightly visit to the local Jobcentre. Mine is in a run-down building in a run-down road with other offices boarded up. It always seems to be raining on the day.

Jobcentres have two functions.

The first is to ensure that those claiming benefits are actively seeking work.  This is achieved by requiring their ‘clients’ to keep a log of their attempts to find employment. The log is given a cursory examination and initialled by an ‘advisor’ who then authorises payment of benefit. So far, so good.

The second is to introduce Jobseekers to potential employers.

I recall a visit a while ago. A little early, I sat in the waiting area, passing the time by counting the number of face piercings on the man opposite me, without being seen to stare. I got to nine before my name was called.

I sat down at the desk of the advisor, a hatchet faced woman who looked like she was having a very bad day. She spent a moment looking at my details on her screen, then initialled my log.

‘I see you’ve been unemployed and claiming benefit for over two months, now, Mr Jobseeker’, she said.

I imagined her writing ‘must try harder’ on my file.

‘After three months you must consider work outside of your regular field, which is…’ she looked at her screen.   

‘I.T’, I said, helpfully.

‘Yes, well, you must be prepared to do something else soon. Minimum wage will apply’, she told me.

She entered search criteria onto her screen. A list of vacancies came up, she swivelled the screen around so that I could see it. 

‘How about this one?’, she asked, pointing to an Oracle DBA position in Dagenham.

‘It’s not something I could do’, I told her. ‘I’m an analyst, I work more on the business side. This is a specialist, quite technical, role’.  

‘It’s an I.T.  job, isn’t it?’, she asked, incredulously.

‘Yes, but…’

‘I should remind you, Mr Jobseeker, that failure to apply for a suitable position could result in the loss of benefit entitlement’, she said.  

I was about to try and convince her that suitability was indeed the issue, but then thought better of it.  

‘OK, I’ll apply for it’, I said wearily. She handed me a print of the details.

‘Good luck with your application, Mr Jobseeker’, she said, as I got up to leave.

I gratefully stepped out into the rain. Abandon hope all ye who enter!

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

I too had the "pleasure" of using the wonderful Jobcentre Plus (JCP) system for 3 months up to October last year.

I used to amuse myself by filling up one of their "diaries" a month, and once managed 4 interviews in a week = 4 travel claim forms which caused them some consternation.

They are totally at sea where IT industry vacancies are concerned, but luckily my local JCP where happy to let me apply for what I knew I had a chance of getting, anyone else seems to get pointed at care homes or something to do with refuse collection/roadsweeping.

It's also hilarious that one of the requirements is that you use the Jobcentre Plus website, luckily again my Jobcentre had heard of jobserve, Monster, IT Job Board etc (interestingly the Jobcentre Plus website site has a large number of IT vacancies at or near minimum wage, I wonder who takes these hmm?, answers on a postcard...)

Best of luck with your search, subsisting on £64 a week, and benefits is not an experience I'd wish to repeat in this lifetime!

Thanks BobF

It seems the job centre are not ideal for IT professionals. It is worrying given the fact that quite a lot of them have lost their jobs recently. What do you think the jobcentre system needs to bring it up to date?

It doesn't seem to currently represent IT to the extend that its proportion of the workforce deserves.

They should probably have IT expert recruiters at larger jobcentres at least.

Thanks for your feednack

Karl Flinders

With tens of thousands of Indian ict IT workers being brought into the UK every year and being paid salaries that are less than or not much above the minimum wage, then maybe we are better off in refuse collection or seeking another career.

No wonder the number of IT professional has shrunk in the last 10 years and UK students don't see it as a good career.

Thanks ArgieBee

I spoke to HCL's European president yesterday. He said the company's strategy is to have local people i9n regions. He said in Europe 85% of workers are natives of the country they work in.

Is this a more appropriate strategy?

Hi Karl,

What the Jobcentre's should do for IT skilled staff is tricky, the system is set up to ensure you're not sitting at home all day watching Jeremy Kyle (God forbid!), and to be honest my Jobcentre were very understanding, and basically let me run things myself as they could see I've done this sort of thing many times over the last 17 years. The documents also have a very twee Trumpton view of work (The example entry in the Jobsearch diary is "Interview at Jones the Bakers" lmao!!)

I've been contracting continuously for about 17 years, and the longest I'd been out before was about 3 months, and usually you have enough put by to cover that, however current conditions are extreme. I was appalled at the good quality of the people queing up to sign on at my Jobcentre, I'd frequently hear someone at the next desk along say "I've been in IT 10, 15 or 20 years".

Talking to the girls at the Jobcentre is very depressing, they tell of staff being drafted in from other government departments to deal with the huge numbers, including disability and social care staff (My first meeting was on a Saturday), and the tales you hear, guys being made redundant twice in a year, others being laid off after 30 years etc., and I'd point out I live in the South East, hardly notorious as an unemployment blackspot!

In 1999 I ran into my first batch of Indian ICT workers shivering in a US bank. Over the past 3-4 years almost every job I have had has had a majority of staff being Indian ICT guys for the general day to day stuff, and I've only got roles recently because of some of the more obscure skills on my cv (Generally my clients have been big name companies, eg FTSE 100 etc).

Whereas in the 90's I used to get a job within 2 weeks since 2000 it has gone up from one month in the early noughties, to my current record just three months ago of 6 months (signed on after 4 months off) and in that 6 months I sent out some 1400 cv's.

I'd also point out that my current job is a permie role, and about the only thing I could get, pays literally a quarter of the amount I used to earn yearly as a contractor; quite a shock to the system, and I'd only been here a week before I learnt that the IT director was seriously considering outsourcing!!!

I feel a bit like one of the UK trawlermen told he can't fish, whilst watching the fishing fleets of the world have free reign to plunder his territory.

The industry and the country will pay for the way they have betrayed us in the long term, I rarely see a UK IT person of any level in their 20's, and sooner or later the offshore boys will jack up their prices once they have a captive market.

Oh well I suppose the financial services industry will keep the country going........BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!


Karl: Sorry I've gone on a bit!, I'll shut up now!

Thanks BobF

Very detailed post. Your comment is very useful. It is quite worrying how the opportunities have declined. People will be put off careers in IT and UK businesses will suffer in the long run.

Offshoring is required but not at the cost of the UK IT sector. There must be a balance.


Karl can you clarify the 85% are locals in Europe? Is that Europe excluding the UK?

Hi ArgieBee

Are you are replying to the post about HCL. The company's president said 85% local in Europe. I presume this includes the UK. Or do you know different? I will ask him to confirm and get back to you.


Hi Karl,

yes. It would be good to find an example of Indian IT service company that was successfully operating with mainly local staff.

I think HCL brought in about 750 ICTs in 2008, which is less than I would have expected for its size. However I would guess that still leaves it with between 1000 - 1500 ICTs in the UK. If it employs 8000 UK employees then that doesn't seem so bad.


Thanks ArgieBee

I will contact HCL and look into it further and it might be worth an article.



The purchase of Axon in 2008 by HCL added about 1,300 UK staff and probably accounted for almost half the additional £200 million personnel costs that HCL Tech experienced in 2008/2009. It would be interesting to get the opinions of the Axon employees and find out if they were treated as valued HCL employees or expensive consultants to be replaced with cheaper labour (aka TCS style).

HCL also have their 1500 call centre people in Northern Ireland (munimum wage/part time jobs). I think they have other UK call centres?

I would guess HCL GB has about 2000 people and presumably most are the ICTs.

So it is quite possible that around 80% of their operations in the UK use UK workers.

Thanks ArgieBee

Is HCL an exception to the rule?


I hope so.

I would like to see the government take action to protect companies that use eea workers. If HCL can use 85% then maybe a 15% limit on employer sponsored visas would protect their good practices.

Ireland have a 5% limit and India have a 1% limit so 15% does not seem extreme.



I will be writing a story and a blog later that might interest you. It is an alternative approach that another government might take.

See the blog later


Made redundant from permanent jobs 5 times in 3 years 2006-2009 - a combination of departments closing and companies going belly-up. Longest out of work between jobs, 11 months. Shortest time to find a job, 5 months. I can echo almost everything written here about jobcentres. The staff do their best, but they just don't appreciate the silo'ed and specialist nature of the work or that recruitment is almost 100% online. I was never required to consider minimum wage jobs though, but since jobseekers allowance is only paid for 6 months in any 12 month period, I was never there long enough to be asked.

Not affected too much by outsourcing - my jobs don't last long enough ha! - other than being outraged, but the common area would be employers being squeezed to cut costs and do more with less.

"What do you think the jobcentre system needs to bring it up to date?"

Rip it to pieces and rebuild it from scratch.

"It doesn't seem to currently represent IT to the extend that its proportion of the workforce deserves.

They should probably have IT expert recruiters at larger jobcentres at least."

What the government and the jobcentre bosses fail to realise is that the jobcentre users nowadays are a million miles away from those from 25 years ago. Back in the mid 80s the jobcentre was dealing with torrents of unskilled and semi skilled workers cast out from factories and coal mines but very rarely did they encounter anybody with a high level of knowledge and skills in IT or other STEM subjects. Therefore focusing on low skilled jobs was a sensible strategy then. Unfortunately, the jobcentre hasn't changed its focus to cater for the increasing number of highly skilled people and still goes round with a job is a job is a job mentality. Part of the problem is the lack of knowledge of the IT sector by the job centre staff and another part are policies from the top to aggressively push users into taking any old job just to make the figures look better. An even more difficult problem to address is the appallingly poor image of the job centre in the eyes of IT managers. They are loathe to use the jobcentre for any job requiring a reasonable level of skills and qualifications which is why so few of these jobs appear on the jobcentre database.

"but they just don't appreciate the silo'ed and specialist nature of the work or that recruitment is almost 100% online"

The jobcentre staff have little idea of where jobs are advertised and go round with a look in the papers mentality. I received a report that one jobcentre adviser was not even aware of the websites where almost all NHS and university jobs are advertised.