What does “applying for jobs online,” mean? Does Job Centre Plus know?

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coffee

Recently Nottingham made the news for having 1700 applicants for 8 jobs at a new Costa branch. The argument was that this demonstrated how desperate people are and how many people there are chasing each job. NO IT DOESN’T.

It’s because it is easy to apply for job online, even if you don’t want it and have no chance of getting it.

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So who is looking out for the digitally excluded?

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mystery person imageSo just who is looking out for the digitally excluded?

According to the Governments stats “82% of the UK Population are currently online” which sounds impressive but actually if you turn it around it means nearly 1 in 5 are not. Next time you are in a pub or at the market look around you and think about what 1 in 5 looks like. That’s a lot of people!

Of course if you have the misfortune to need to go into a Job Centre Plus that figure will be much higher, as it will if you meet a group of disabled or elderly people. And these tend to be people already experiencing social disadvantage.

So who has the job of doing something about this? More

Introducing successful online services

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Police LogoWith the Government setting out potential revenue savings of £1.8bn a year through the adoption of their “Digital by Default” strategy I wonder how much thought has been given to how well the type of online services that are going to be introduced match with the likelihood that their prospective users are comfortable or even capable of using them. My experience within the Police and Criminal Justice area showed that the success or failure of online initiatives can vary enormously and can be very difficult to predict. For example when Charles Clarke, as Police Minister, launched a nationwide online service that allowed people to report non-emergency Crimes such as criminal damage or petty theft through a website the expectations were high. Much work was done around the design of the transaction, the security of the transmissions to individual forces and the need to interface with existing systems. So what happened when it went live …. nothing, no one used it, anywhere. Eventually we started to get the occasional transaction but typically these numbered no more than 1 or 2 a month. Some Police forces put terminals with the system into Police station reception areas in a kiosk type mode but this was not really what they were designed for and it merely served to boost the number of transactions slightly. No, the public, or at least those who were victims or crime either did not want to use it or would not use it. Unfortunately, as with many failures, the “post mortem”, such as there was one, was more about minimising the damage to credibility rather than trying to understand why a perfectly sound idea had been such a flop. Contrast this with the launch of the online Crime Mapping in 2009, by Vernon Coaker, another Labour Police Minister. This service was probably less well thought through than the online Crime recording in that it required each force to implement its own system, though most chose a common supplier. From its launch the service became an immediate success and is now the most frequently used Government online service with 400,000 visits a month being typical. So why the enormous variation? Was it the type of transaction that was the factor, are people uncomfortable about putting details of crimes into a computer or do they want someone to talk to, so that they can share their misfortune? Are the 18% of people who are not online much more likely to be victims of crime and so not in a position to use the service? Frankly we do not know, but before Government departments start to move their wide range of transactions online they need to make sure that those that they digitise first are truly going to be used, otherwise they will find the planned savings will not be realised in anything like the required timescale.

Keeping up with Technology!

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bbmSince I have started working as an Administrator three years ago the technology I have learned has been over whelming- still some things today I cannot get my head around -But you plod along. I have learned how to set my own blog up. Post to our existing blog, set up a mail merge with Microsoft 2012, I have been taught how to use photo shop elements, Skype, LinkedIn set up a twitter account, (I still really don’t get twitter as much as I do Facebook) Things are changing rapidly and this is very scary – but I feel we have to get with the trend as having children you do need to keep up-to-date with all the technology out there so you are more clued up than your children to keep on top of things i.e. recently I have had a Blackberry phone so I could try and keep an eye on my daughter – only to realise she only has to un-tick me on her BBM status so I don’t know what she is putting!

The author of this post wished to remain anonymous. She is a part time worker and mother of two.

What ever happened to the fax machine?

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Fax MachineFax MachineDoing some work on digital exclusion a few years ago (part of our Digital Challenge bid) someone made the point that, to a digitally excluded person, a fax machine is actually quite high tech and there must be millions of them lying around or gone to that big tech store in the sky. Or more likely causing some African State to sink under the weight of the landfill sites they now occupy.

I couldn’t comment because for years I worked for an organisation that spent so long deciding whether a fax machine was a good thing to have (even though we had numerous requests daily to fax things through) that, by the time they agreed it was it was a good idea to have one, email had replaced them. More

The Field of Dreams

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field of dreams poster

Remember that old Kevin Costner movie? Y’know, the one where he builds a baseball diamond in the middle of Iowa and a famous baseball team show up. Doubters were told,  “If you build it, he will come.”

It feels as if digital by default is driving thousands of build it and they’ll come websites all over the country at the moment. Everyone I talk to of late are re-evaluating their digital strategy, their digital operations plan, their digital customer journey and their pathways to digital inclusion. Literally hundreds of thousands of pounds being spent by organisations both public and third sector now. Goodness knows how high that figure will go as the digital by default deadline draws nearer.

We are working hard to make our website the most understandable and user friendly website, accessible in every way. So simple that a ………. could use it.

With between 8 and 16 million citizens unable to use the internet (depending who you read) and a Venn diagram sweet spot of those citizens having literacy and numeracy difficulties as a major contributing factor to digital illiteracy then I seriously wonder if the target users of this huge fiscal, intellectual and emotional input will come when it is built. Will the people who need to find the field let alone play baseball?

Time will tell. In the meantime stand by for more concerned citizens reeking of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The wood for the trees

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At the moment I seem to be engaged is several digital inclusion initiatives and strategies. Some practical and some still at the vision stage. Being an operations kind of person at heart this period of my digital inclusion journey is incredibly frustrating. The issue is clear. Anything between 8 and 16 million people (depending what figures one reads – source http://www.ukonlinecentres.com/about-us.html and http://www.go-on.co.uk/challenge/uk-snapshot) people in the UK are deemed to be digitally excluded. Either way its a lot of people. More

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