Main Report - Page 8 of 10
What works and what more needs to be done?
Respondents from each strand of the study were asked to reflect on what sort of provision and support currently works for older claimants and to consider what more can be done to support their particular age related barriers. The section below reflects on these findings.
Broadening job search criteria - Assisting older claimants in broadening their job search criteria was an issue raised across a number of research strands.
Advisers in particular felt that many older claimants tended to focus their job search activities around jobs and industries in which they had previous experience. Very few claimants had a real grasp of how their particular skills set could be used within a different work context.
As one Employer adviser noted: Jobcentre Plus should have a role to play in broadening people's horizons, in older manufacturing areas many men (in particular) don’t see shop work as proper work, they think of work as manufacturing, engineering etc .. but not all these types of jobs are still available or even suitable for them now. (Adviser Comment Online Survey).
A number of advisers felt that the support they could offer to older claimants was limited by the time they could allocate to each claimant.
It was also noted that older claimants would often need greater amounts of 'adviser' time to talk through the details of their job search activities.
Note: The research was conducted at the point at which flexible delivery had only recently been introduced.
Many advisers had yet to experience the full extent of the flexibility regime and how this might have implications for their time management.
The value being able to offer one to one support with claimants was also noted.
One to one sessions allowed advisers to build up a rapport and trust with a customer which helped them in tackling some of the more difficult conversations relating to job search criteria. This issue of time and rapport building was considered to be important for older claimants, who seem to respond better to longer and more thoughtful discussions.
Developing Modern Job Search Skills
The need to develop modern job search skills amongst older claimants was a significant issue for many advisers.
It was felt that some current provision was not targeted appropriately or did not provide enough depth and details to meet the needs of older claimants.
Advisers suggested, that training in basic IT was required, which focused on some of the core principles and skills such as word processing, how to search the internet, how to find suitable job search sites, how to make online job applications and how to send and respond to emails. It was suggested that much of this training should be provided in small group settings, possibly with one to one support.
The issue of mixed age group sessions was raised as a potential problem, as older claimants may get left behind in the training, by the more IT capable younger claimants and advisers also noted that older claimants often feel nervous or alienated from a group that has a mixed age profile, especially if the behaviour of the other younger claimants were disruptive. Having IT support available within the Jobcentre Plus offices was also raised as a potential benefit to older claimants.