JSA claimants are being told that they ‘must’ use the Universal Jobmatch to look for jobs and create an account in it. However, there are increasing worries about this system.
Monstrous confidentiality problems…
The Jobcentre reassures you that your details and CV, if put on the UJM, can only be accessed by ‘authorised employers’. This sounds safe, but is it? Anyone who is an ‘authorised employer’ can access your details: they may include neighbours, present or future landlords, abusive ex-partners etc.
And how are those who sign up as ’employers’ authorised before they are allowed to see your details? This is a good question. We tried registering ourselves as employers and were authorised automatically!
In fact, Jobcentre Plus doesn’t even claim to be able to guarantee security:
‘We… cannot guarantee that people or organisations without permission will not gain access to this database’.
Will it happen? Probably yes: the business which runs the UJM is none other than Monster Worldwide, an online recruitment company with a long record of scandals for monstrous data losses!
In 2009 hackers snatched personal details of 4.5 million jobseekers who had put their CVs and other information in Monster’s hands, and was reported in the Guardian:
And on Thursday Channel 4 news online revealed that a fake job ad posted by a group of hackers seeking to draw attention to the security flaws was able to harvest the personal details of over 70 jobseekers, including passwords and scanned passport details!
Besides issues of confidentiality, you may be worried about potential IT surveillance. With the government’s new brilliant idea that job seekers should be job seeking for 35 hours a week, your activity within the Universal Jobmatch could in principle (and in the future) be monitored, plunging you into an Orwellian nightmare.
Cuts to services and staff…
Last but not least, the Universal Jobmatch is the government’s latest attempt to make the service ‘leaner’ through the inconsiderate use of IT, and is an attack on both claimants and Jobcentre workers. The service will have less staff you can speak to face to face, and, at the same time, more workers will themselves end up on the dole.
If you are a keen Jobcentre adviser, and do your best to convince (or force) people into joining the UJM, please think twice: the UJM can eventually make you redundant!
What to do?
Worried about confidentiality?
We have received reassurances that joining the Universal Jobmatch is not mandatory and that you can discuss alternative and effective forms of job search with your adviser. Only if you are obliged through a formal order called ‘Direction’ can you be sanctioned for not joining the UJM. (update 15/12/12 – this is now not the case in Brighton following PCS intervention)
PCS, the trade union for Jobcentre workers, has put out advice to its members making it clear that the use of Universal Jobmatch is voluntary.
If you feel you will be put under pressure, contact the Unemployed Centre on 01273 540717: they will accompany you and speak to your adviser.
Do you want a job and don’t want to miss out on something?
You can always use the Universal Jobmatch anonymously as a job search engine. You can type a list of skills and the machine will match them with jobs: you do NOT need to create an account for this service. You do NOT need to use the UJM to store or circulate your CV. You can apply for any job by contacting employers directly.
However, we have tried out the UJM and found out that its job selection is not great. Other job search engines may give you many more chances!
What about if you have already created an account and have changed your mind?
Contact the Unemployed Centre on 01273 540717 and they will help you do this.