'Pressing a few keys on a keyboard' is the best way to find work today!
AS a former Civil Servant, I think it is a pity that some of your correspondents adopt the technique of playing the man rather than the ball.
For when it comes to issues like volunteering and job searching, they deserve to be considered in their own right, rather than be used to criticise one individual (Viewpoint: September 20).
'Pressing a few keys on a keyboard' may not sound like looking for work in some people's eyes, but it is the best way of accessing jobs in these computer days. Websites like DirectGov UK and this isgrimsby mean that you can see a whole range of jobs available, and subsequently apply for them if you meet a firm's requirements.
Either you have to fill a form in on-line, attach a CV or ask for a form to be sent to your address to be filled in at your leisure.
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Sometimes organisations have websites with the facility to let you keep your details with them, to be subsequently reactivated on insertion of a password so that you can apply for another position that crops up with them.
That I know is the case with North East Lincolnshire Council.
Trouble is, we have moved a long way away from full employment, not helped locally by the collapse of the deep sea fishing industry. So there are far more people looking for work than there is work available.
Indeed I once went on the aforementioned DirectGov site, the biggest source of job vacancies in the country, only to find that no new jobs in the local travel to work area had appeared for the last four days. Thus it is not a case of picking and choosing what you want to do, something in fact that the Job Centre don't allow.
Rather they and other agencies like i2i encourage you to apply for work that is within your capabilities. Which I've always done, as I'd far rather be in a job that paid the Minimum Wage than on Job Seekers Allowance of £71.50 a week.
Where does volunteering come into this? Well it isn't as a substitute for paid work, but it can give you valuable transferable skills to put on a CV, an up-to-date reference and liaison with those who may be in a position to take on employees at a future date.
After all, we're constantly told of the importance of networking in this day and age. Volunteering fills the gaps on a CV, so that you can answer questions on an application form and in an interview as to what you have been doing since last in paid employment.
It may be only for a few hours, but often it is a for a lot longer, especially when you take into account Saturday and evening duties, plus "behind the scenes" tasks like writing up minutes.
Hopefully it will lead to paid employment, but if it doesn't, such activity is a positive way of spending your time, and as such is welcomed by official bodies provided that it doesn't interfere with any job searching. Similarly people are encouraged to take extra courses of study in order to make them more employable, by increasing the range of jobs they can apply for.
Thus no "making a career out of being on Job Seekers Allowance", but making the most out of a bad labour market.
And we're happy to do menial volunteer tasks, but like the respect due to anyone whether paid or not!
Tim Mickleburgh, Boulevard Avenue, Grimsby.
The Telegraph Says
Volunteering should not be a subsitute for paid work, but it can prove to be a huge stepping stone to employment. It can certainly give some an advantage when vying for a position.