The Jobcentre has changed a lot over the years, but it has always had the same goal and that is to provide customers with the tools and opportunities they need to find employment.
The Falkirk Herald was given a tour of the state-of-the-art premises in Wellside Place last week by centre customer service leader Billy Howie and senior customer service leader for Falkirk and Edinburgh Euan Halliday.
The main message they were striving to get across was everyone in the building was there to offer support to anyone who needed it.
Euan said: “Some people are nervous when they come into the job centre and we want to tell them we are here to support them. It’s a much more welcoming environment. We are trying to change people’s perceptions by making the job centre more open with no physical barriers.
“The feedback we have had from customers is great.”
Billy added: “There are the physical changes in the office space and the modernisation, then there are the changes in the way we work. There are a lot more people, with
Universal Credit, who come in with health issues and we have to find out how we can best support them.”
Partnerships are becoming increasingly important in the job centre’s way of working.
Euan said: “We realise we won’t be able to do everything on our own and people might need more structured support outside the job centre.”
To this end the job centre is trying to build up a network of support and recently signed an agreement with Falkirk Council regarding care leavers, in an effort to make things as easy as possible for them when they leave care and enter the jobs market.
“It’s about finding ways to get people to take the first step to get them into, or back into, work,” said Billy. “Tackling the barriers before we can get them into work. Universal Credit is the biggest change in the welfare system since I have been here – making it a much more modern service now with a lot of it being online.
“And we have a much more modern job centre now – we have WiFi for customers so they can use their own tablets and smart phones while they are here.”
There are a total of 15 brand new computers available to customers on two floors in the premises and work coaches to help people when it comes to job searches or making claims.
Euan said: “We are still predominantly a face to face organisation, dealing with people in person, but for certain clients we can help them online or over the telephone.”
When business unfortunately fold – like the recent administration of Thomas Cook – the job centre is on hand to help those who are made redundant.
Billy said: “We try to help them identify their own skills and we work together with Skills Development Scotland to identify job opportunities in the area – preventing someone coming onto benefits.”
Euan said: “When people find out they are made redundant they can, within 13 weeks, access the DWP to help them identify opportunities in the job market, so they are never out of work and don’t come onto benefits.”