jobcentreplus1Employment minister Jim Knight is calling on Job Centres to become a ‘universal employment service’ open to employed as well as unemployed workers. 

Knight is set to announce a package of measures to modernise the current Jobcentre Plus network, including the provision of laptops and personal websites for jobseekers.

Knight says he wants the service to put “customers at the centre, acting as a broker for employers, with expert staff delivering personal advice and support”.

The service should “run alongside people at every stage of their lives,” and be open to people facing unemployment or considering a career change, rather than being limited to those who are already unemployed. 

Jobcentre service users could have access to a “technology budget”, to aid in the purchase of computer equipment and broadband connections, said Knight.

Personalised webpages will give jobseekers a central point of access to job opportunities, CV services and Jobseekers Allowance information.

Suggesting that the management of the service could also change, he said “We could let go of some of the processing, perhaps relax central control over some of the budgets… then measure their success rather than monitoring the process”.  Knight suggests that tow long people hold down a job, could become a key success measure – encouraging advisors to train job seekers rather than simply push them into low skilled work to get them off the unemployment registers.

“We’ve got a service that works pretty well for the people it was designed to help,” Knight said. “But with almost a doubling in the number of people coming through the door, we’ve got a much bigger range of people coming in, with different sorts of skills.”