Main Report - Page 6 of 10
Advisers, it should be noted, also felt a claimant’s perception of such a poor service could negatively affect all future engagement with Jobcentre Plus.
A number of respondents to the customer interviews mentioned that their first experience of a Jobcentre was poor. Issues that were specifically highlighted included a perceived unwelcoming reception from door staff, a seemingly chaotic atmosphere, confusion over processes and the limited time available to talk with advisers and to discuss individual needs.
This attitude may in part be a reflection of claimants having had little previous experience of the Jobcentre Plus service and reflects the confusion many feel when entering a new environment.
However what makes this finding of relevance to the age of the claimant is that older claimants assumed their age and their previous work experience would afford them some degree of status and preferential treatment.
Claimants were often dissatisfied when they realised that they would be treated in the same abrupt manner as younger claimants. On visiting a jobcentre ‘I dread it, I get cold sweats the night before I need to go in and I feel sick at the thought of it (Claimant Interview)
There was also the expectation from a number of older claimants that they would receive support and advice from day one of their claim and were disappointed that they did not qualify for any support until they had been unemployed for some time.
Jobcentre Plus should offer more courses, particularly on improving your skills when they are out dated, but they don’t offer anything at my age and you feel like you're on the scrap heap’ (Claimant Interview)
Advisers noted that this dislike of Jobcentre Plus offices could lead to older claimants limiting their contact with the Jobcentre and be less willing to attend voluntary training and job search provision.
One adviser responding to the online survey noted that - You have to feel confident and comfortable with your surroundings before you can really get to grips with job search activities and many older claimants just simply feel ill at ease in the Jobcentre. (Adviser Comment Online Survey).
However a number of claimants also reported some very positive experiences of the support that they received from individual advisers, noting that they made great efforts to develop an understanding of their individual needs and presented them with a range of support options.
When I first saw an adviser he was really good. I wanted to start my own business and run a mobile Karaoke service. The Jobcentre were really good and helped me as much as possible in trying to set this up (Older JSA Claimant)
A pet hate amongst the 60 plus job seekers were the use of the terms 'mandatory' and 'sanctions'. People in this specific age range did understand their meaning and also agreed that when it came to the 'younger' generation of job seekers this was at times a justified thing to point out as there were some who simply did not want a job, for various reasons, and were unreliable when it came to attending a pre-agreed appointment - or even failing to turn up at all.
However for those in the 60 plus age group who had in many cases been in regular work for the best part of their lives, (some in fact may have held senior management or supervisory positions in the past), found the use of such terms towards them as offensive and uncalled for, (indignant reaction), when told such things on a regular basis.