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Is there NO help for parents returning to work after being at home caring for family??

(41 Posts)
needthemoney Mon 03-Feb-14 18:10:35


I'm feeling really pissed off. I've written before about how I monumentally seemed to have f**ed things up because I stayed at home to look after my kids. I know I can't have my cake and eat it but I thought there would be SOME kind of assistance available to "refresh" my skills and make me more employable?

Brief history, nearly 9 years out of work. Successful career pre-kids but in a precarious freelance business that required erratic and often long hours, no holiday/sick pay etc... Contract ended whilst pregnant with 1st child. Have 2 kids, both in school, in debt and desperately in need of work.

Anyway, have been advised to go to the Job Centre to register as a Job Seeker so I duly go along. Enter an empty building and am welcomed by 2 twitchy looking security guards and a man at a plinth. Can I help you? So I give the spiel about wanting some advice and help about returning to work and am virtually cut off mid-flow by "are you in receipt of any benefits?", Me: "Errr only child benefit" Him: "sorry we can't give you access to ANY of our advisory services as they are only for people who are entitled to Job Seekers allowance or other out of work benefits". He then handed me a faded photocopied "leaflet" that gave me the website address where all the Jobcentre jobs are on. That will be the one that I have accessed online before and ditched because of all the OTE jobs that don't actually pay a wage and catalogue distribution jobs. THANKS.

I then go over the road to the Skills Development Agency. Walk in, smile on my face to be met by a very bored-looking person and say' "Hi, I've just come from the job centre and they said that you might be able to give me some help and advice?" Was met by a surly "Regarding???" I felt like saying, "Make-up and Hair, WTF do you think it's regarding SKILLS DEVELOPMENT!!" He couldn't have given off more of an aura of not giving a toss if he tried. I pressed on and explained my position and if there was anyone I could talk to and he explained that I would have to make an appointment and that he couldn't get me one for over 2 weeks. I agreed to fill in a form and left it with them. There were banks of computers sitting unused but I think I would have been rugby tackled if I'd asked about them. Walked out feeling utterly flat.

I should say that I am in Scotland. Is it like this in the rest of the UK? I am sure I have heard about people being sent on free or subsidised computer courses or refreshers. Up here it seems they lose interest when you hit 25 unless you have been made redundant by a big industry.

Anyway, rant over. Feel free to join in or give advice.

FrequentFlyerRandomDent Mon 03-Feb-14 20:41:41

Maybe pre- budget cuts, but I have not heard of any programme to support parents returning to work in England either.

It is tough.

Some good site I think:

I sympathise. Same boat.

needthemoney Tue 04-Feb-14 11:09:26

Thanks FrequentFlyerRandomDent

Will have a look at that site.

And best of luck in your job search too.

Wallison Tue 04-Feb-14 11:12:58

I see you have discovered the truth about job centres. They are not in the business of getting people into work and they definitely aren't career advice centres. They exist to try and sanction people's benefits by asking loaded questions in order to make it seem as though the claimant isn't complying with the rules. They don't actually give a shit as to whether you work or not. While I do sympathise with you, nobody gets help in finding a job. That's not their purpose.

needthemoney Tue 04-Feb-14 14:12:09

Wallison I have to say that you are 100% right. Sadly very true - just thought they wouldn't be so blatant about it! They are there to get the jobless figures down, not people into employment - I hadn't appreciated that subtle difference before/

Teatimetinny Tue 04-Feb-14 16:02:36

Yes my experience of job centres was horrific. I was in inner city London and I thought it was only bad because I was there. They really need to get some more motivated staff.

I am teetering on the edge of giving up my job to become 'unemployed' as the patriarchy would call or, or looking after my kids as I would call it. Your post has made me think...

OddBoots Tue 04-Feb-14 16:09:12

Does LearnDirect cover Scotland? They might be a good place to start.

SmileAndNod Tue 04-Feb-14 16:13:17

Obviously the government will have to provide more help for SAHMs once we are all clamouring for jobs when all of our children are in school from 9 til 6 and they provide childcare for 2 year olds too. They are so determined for children not to have any family life at all they will be desperate to find us jobs grin. Give it a few years and they will be complaining about the breakdown of family values...

deardarlingpleaaeexcusemywriti Tue 04-Feb-14 16:14:57

I kind of agree with this:

"While I do sympathise with you, nobody gets help in finding a job. That's not their purpose."

Your kids are at school - what can you do to help yourself? What sort of industry do go into? If it's back in to your old one can you go for a more junior post than you were in before and try to refresh your skills that way?

Both of your children are at school - can you volunteer somewhere?

I've got one at school and one at pre school and want to go back to work next year - I do an evening job, 2 volunteer roles and I've just completed a course I got cheap through Groupon.

You need to find the motivation to do it yourself, and that doesn't just involve expecting the government to sort it out for you.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, and I don't mean it to, just suggesting that you learn to be resourceful because it is tough.

SmileAndNod Tue 04-Feb-14 16:14:58

Sorry bit grumpy today. I've never felt so under valued as a SAHM as I do right now sad

JuliaScurr Tue 04-Feb-14 16:20:05


tiredandsadmum Tue 04-Feb-14 16:23:49

I had this last summer. I signed on because I wanted to access training courses, help rewriting cv, help with getting voluntary work in a new field etc. I was offered voluntary work in charity shops, little else. The only funny thing was that despite having worked and paid higher rate tax for decades I haven't paid ni and tax in the last 2 years, so didn't qualify for any cash payment of JSA. So everytime they tried to threaten me with sanctions I just smiled sweetly and said well you are not paying me anyway smile I carried on signing on until I started my teacher training course. Part-time so I don't qualify for financial help.

UriGeller Tue 04-Feb-14 16:30:05

Smileandnod, I guess there'll be a lot of new openings for teaching assistants, nursery workers, school out-of-hours free-time supervisors etc. it'll be the only way you get to see your own children.

PlasmaBall Tue 04-Feb-14 16:33:23

I can kind of see your point but there are loads of courses available to refresh your skills if you want them. You ll probably have to pay but really, why shouldn't you? Afterall youll be the main person to benefit.

Have you registered a a job seeker? If you paid your stamp pre dc you'll get 6m jsa regardless of dh's income which may mean you qualify for some subsidized courses ?

GwendolineMaryLacey Tue 04-Feb-14 16:33:37

I walked out of a job a good few years back and knew my parents would kill me so I went straight to the job centre nearest my home and basically sat down and said I want a job. She gave me all the spiel about benefits and fill out this form and what I'd be entitled to. I said no thank you, I don't want to sign on, I want a job ASAP (nicely, not demanding). She couldn't get her head round me not wanting to sign on but wanting an immediate job instead. She eventually gave me the number of someone and I had a successful interview that afternoon so was unemployed for 4 hours!

Anyway, I see the set up hasn't changed at all...

AveryJessup Tue 04-Feb-14 16:45:30

If you're not actually 'unemployed' in the usual sense of the word and not receiving job-seekers allowance then you 're wasting your time at the Job Centre. Surely you know that from your previous working life?

When I was looking for a job in Scotland after studying there I didn't go near any job centres or govt places. Everyone knows they are a waste of time unless you are looking for unskilled / low-skilled work. I just went directly to recruitment firms. That would be my advice to you. Just sign up with a recruitment agency. Some will give you CV advice for free and give you an assessment of where your skills are suited. If you need a job urgently you could always do temp work to build up a profile. I second the suggestion to volunteer as well, anything to make contacts and build a network of people.

Damnautocorrect Tue 04-Feb-14 16:49:02

I'm in the same boat, not sure what to do or where to go for advice really.

givemeaclue Tue 04-Feb-14 16:55:48

Apply for a job? I know it's radical...

needthemoney Tue 04-Feb-14 17:04:04

Plasmaball I was trying to do just that "register as a jobseeker". It doesn't seem to work like that. I was self-employed before having children - I'm not entitled to anything. And subsidized courses, don't exist unless you're in receipt of benefits.

And deardarling I'm doing all that other stuff as well not just sitting on my arse grin I'm working in a charity shop 1 day a week, am volunteering in the school office 2 mornings a week and spending hours and hours rewriting my CV for each job application (taking stuff off that makes me look too overqualified explaining what my previous career entailed as I'm applying for jobs outside of that world).

And if I tried to apply for a more junior position within my previous industry I would be competing with fresh-faced Oxbridge graduates prepared to work for NOTHING for months on end and I would be old enough to be their grandmother!

I do kind of see your point about "why should I get help". But if I was younger I would, if I had just been made redundant I would qualify for free training. I haven't taken anything out the system for 9 years.

Learndirect does not operate up here Oddboots We have The Skills Development Agency who, as you will note from my first post seem as useful to me as a chocolate teapot grin.

I'm sure something will crop up eventually but y'know, not looking good at the moment.

needthemoney Tue 04-Feb-14 17:21:40

givemeaclue what, you mean, apply for an ACTUAL job?

I take it you're gainfully employed yourself hmm

*AVeryJessup" yes, I thought Jobcentres were a complete waste of time too but I kept hearing about people who seemed to have accessed help via them so was prepared to be proved wrong. Recruitment agencies? I've steered clear of them to be honest but maybe that's a confidence thing. I just thought they would be for the thrusting young things and for those who hadn't stepped off the career merry-go-round. But I might give that a try next.

Am currently redrafting my CV into "Functional" and "Targetted" versions which is fun and I have got accepted as a Mystery Shopper so all is not lost wink Absolutely refuse to become a Chugger though.

deardarlingpleaaeexcusemywriti Tue 04-Feb-14 17:25:12

"If I had just been made redundant I would qualify for free training"

Would you? I got made redundant in 2010 and didn't qualify for any.

I don't know what it is you want, really? Free training? Most people have to pay for training.

I'm a SAHM after redundancy and I don't see that the state automatically owes me anything just because I paid into the system and haven't taken anything out.

Yes, if I was desperate and couldn't make ends meet I could claim benefits - it's a welfare state after all. But free refresher courses for SAHMs?

givemeaclue Tue 04-Feb-14 17:25:52

I didn't say actual, if there is no help available all you can do is apply for jobs, get feedback and see where it takes you

deardarlingpleaaeexcusemywriti Tue 04-Feb-14 17:26:26

Sorry, most people have to pay to study if they're not given on the job training, is what I meant, rather than most people have to pay for training.

deardarlingpleaaeexcusemywriti Tue 04-Feb-14 17:28:28

And re-reading your OP you have actually been given an appt with the Skills Development Agency but it's not for 2 weeks. Do you really think that's a massively unreasonable wait for a free, non-statutory service? Honestly?

needthemoney Tue 04-Feb-14 17:51:35

No I don't think 2 weeks is a particularly long time but the way it was positioned to me was as if HE was trying to put ME off by saying you'll have to wait 2 WHOLE WEEKS! No skin off my nose. It's hard to put across in a post but the whole aura of the place was lacking any sense of "skill" or "development". It was like I had interrupted their coffee break (maybe i had?!)

And every job I've got the knock-back for so far has said "unfortunately due to the high volume of applicants we are unable to give feedback as to why your application was unsuccessful"

Individual Learning Accounts would have been perfect - remember them? You could get up to £200 towards a course at a further education college. Unfortunately they changed the rules about 2 or 3 years ago that disqualified anyone who already had a degree (I do from decades ago).

And I guess when I was talking about people who had help after redundancy I'm talking about the programmes that are put in place when a major employer (think BAAE) suddenly decides to jettison it's workforce. It's usually a PR exercise. I appreciate it isn't available in every instance of redundancy.

I hate how I'm sounding actually. I'm not one to go cap in hand to the state. There is no help. There possibly shouldn't be any help.

Thanks for all the input so far.

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