Friday, 25 January 2013

So Where's the Help for the Middle-Aged Unemployed?

With regards to Chloe Smith's new scheme to help young unemployed people get back into work I'm left to wonder when something is going to be done about other age groups.

I have extensive experience in the retail industry, having worked in a local garden centre, a newsagents and for one of the country's biggest retail chains. I've also volunteered in a local charity shop and at a local museum.

I'm 41 years old. I'm single. I have no dependants. I've been unemployed since the end of 2007. Apart from going on the schemes run by companies such as Action 4 Employment it seems as if nothing is being done for people in situations similar to my own.

It's soul destroying sitting in front of my computer for hours a day looking and applying for jobs and constantly getting knock backs with the obligatory "we'll keep your CV on file, good luck for the future" letters and e-mails.

I have two massive lever arch files containing details of every job I've applied for since October 2009. I've managed to fill one of those in just four months. This month alone I've been in contact with 75 companies about the possibility of employment, 14 job applications and 61 speculative letters. I've had just 7 replies. Last year I had just 2 interviews.

Believe me, it's not through lack of effort with regards to the lack of interviews. Back in 2007 I was getting 3-4 interviews per week until I was given a temporary Christmas contract with the retail chain. Then the financial crisis hit, and apart from a brief period when I was suffering from a knee injury that required an operation I've probably sent out well over a thousand letters and e-mails asking for work.

I'm currently with a company called Seetec. Like A4E before them they're trying to help me back into work. They've helped me with costs and have set up a course for me next week. It says on my file there that I'm "work ready". I've been work ready for over 5 years.

Over the past few years I've seen schemes for unemployed university graduates, unemployed former prisoners, and countless others. I can't recall seeing one for unemployed single people with no dependants. It would be nice to see the powers that be helping people like me out, but I can't see that happening. I don't think I'll ever see a photo in my local newspaper of a local MP standing in a shopping centre with a group of single, middle-aged unemployed people announcing a scheme to help them get back into work, and I get the feeling that it will be a while before someone says the magic words "you're hired" to me.