From the beginning of next year, the unemployed will have to look for work through the new Universal Jobmatch website or risk losing their benefits.
The website will scan the CVs of benefit claimants and automatically match them up job openings that suit their skills.
It will also allow employers to search for new workers among the unemployed and send messages inviting them to interviews.
However, the activities of benefit claimants can also be tracked using devices known as “cookies”, so their Job Centre advisers can know how many searches they have been doing, suggest potential jobs and see whether they are turning down viable opportunities.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said the scheme would “revolutionise” the process of looking for work.
Ho hum. This is so wrong on so many levels, it is difficult to know where to begin. As a job seeker nearly two years ago, I tried everything to get work rather than stay on benefits. As my advisors quickly discovered, nothing on their database even remotely matched my skill set. In the end, I came off benefits through my own efforts and so did not register on the government system until I walked in and told them. This would be no different today.
As for tracking using cookies – er, has no one told IDS about clearing one’s cookies? It ain’t difficult.
The tracking element of the programme will not be compulsory as monitoring people’s behaviour online without their consent would not be allowed under EU law.
So, a complete waste of time, then. The first time they try to use it in anger, they will find themselves facing the European court of human rights.
But job advisers are able to impose sanctions such as compulsory work placements or ultimately losing benefits if they feel the unemployed are not searching hard enough.
Which they can do now, of course.
As for it revolutionising looking for work – yeah, right, in your dreams. We will find work in the ways we always have. The state’s database is likely to be as utterly useless in the future as it was when I briefly tried to use it.