The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Darra Singh. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Darra Singh:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking what guidance is provided for jobseekers at Jobcentre Plus offices on the availability of computers for carrying out jobsearches. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
All jobseekers claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance have an interview with an adviser to discuss and agree realistic and achievable job goals and those steps that, if taken regularly, will offer the best chance of finding work.
During this process, the adviser provides access to a wide range of help and support aimed at improving job prospects and overcoming barriers that might be making it harder to find work. This includes providing information, advice and guidance on how to identify and apply for jobs, and how to make best use of appropriate vacancy sources such as the Jobcentre Plus telephony-based vacancy matching system (Jobseeker Direct) and the government’s Internet Job Bank on Directgov, which is accessible through the internet and in all jobcentres via our Jobpoints. Every time customers are asked to attend their local Jobcentre, they are encouraged to use a Jobpoint to identify and apply for jobs. If required, customers are shown how to use a Jobpoint by a member of the Customer Service Team.
We recognise the importance of having access to a computer to enable customers to search and apply for jobs online, as this is rapidly becoming the recruitment channel of choice for employers. In recognition of this, we are developing close working relationships with local providers such as UK Online Centres in England and the equivalent in Scotland and Wales and signposting customers to the support that these provide. Personal Advisers tell customers how they can find their nearest UK Online Centre, and equivalent in Scotland and Wales, using a free phone number, to enable them to gain access to this help. We are also raising awareness of schemes that will help customers get their own home computer, such as the Department for Children, Schools and Families Home Internet Access programme. Furthermore, later this year, we will be Mailing customer access to PCs in some of our Jobcentres and offering supported access to those who have no or low digital skills.
You may also wish to know that Jobcentre Plus launched its Smartphone Application on 10 March, which is an alternative means for our customers to access our Internet Job Bank. The application allows those with compatible smartphones to perform jobsearches and browse job vacancies directly from their handset, whenever they are connected to the internet. This application provides another means of accessing the digital labour market and promoting self-service for our customers.
I hope this reply is helpful and assures you of our intent to make sure jobseekers are able to compete effectively within the labour market and use modern recruitment methods.