Digital exclusion: support for jobseekers needs to continue
The Wales Co-operative Centre has published “Digital Inclusion: Stronger Communities”, a policy paper that examines the impact of digital exclusion on people in Wales and argues for a continuing, specific digital inclusion project. Today we look at how jobseekers need digital skills to find work.
After being made redundant from his job of 10 years as a labourer/driver, Michael struggled to find employment for three years. As someone who didn’t use a computer on a regular basis, he found the changes to Jobseeker’s Allowance, which requires jobseekers to look for work online, frustrating. After hearing about drop-in sessions run by Get Bridgend Online, Michael began attending to improve his computer skills. While Michael had some previous experience of using computers, his confidence was extremely low as he struggled to use the Universal Jobsmatch website effectively.
Through attending the sessions, Michael acquired the skills which have enabled him to apply for work independently and confidently. He can now utilise the features of the Universal Jobsmatch website, and complete online applications. In addition to the skills he has learnt through Get Bridgend Online, Michael has also become inspired to progress his knowledge further, signing up for a Learndirect course in Basic Computing, adding to his qualifications.
Michael says the main benefit he has gained from the sessions is a big boost in confidence. While he currently remains unemployed, he is optimistic that his new skills will help him secure work in the near future.
So, people who are unable to use the Internet to find vacancies, who are unable to use a word processor to construct a CV, and who lack the basic ICT skills to function in work will find it considerably harder to find a job. People like Michael should be entitled to accessible, high quality digital inclusion support. If we are to get Wales back to work this support needs to continue. Wales needs a continuing specific digital inclusion programme.