We have no reason to doubt the accuracy of what social work graduate Rachel Sawford tells us on today’s Agenda pages.
The 29-year-old, who was looking for a job, says an advisor at the job centre told her that she may have to ‘dumb down’ her CV and omit her university qualification so that employers would not be ‘scared off’, should she not find a job in social work within the 13 weeks before the rule change kicks in on receiving Jobseekers’ allowance.
It’s possible that the advisor was giving out shrewd advice, borne out by experience of helping others find jobs – but if that’s the case, it is a scandal.
There are a few things that we accept around this case, one being that there are not hundreds of jobs ready to be taken up by graduates. The political and economic rights and wrongs of this are to be argued about another time, but despite the faint recovery claimed recently, nobody would argue that the good times are back.
Another is that there are many types of work for which you do not need a degree.
But we do not accept that this means the presence of a degree should be written out of one’s CV.
To do so not only relegates the importance of having studied hard for three years for a qualification, but also can be seen as suggesting that graduates will not work as hard at some jobs as at others.
As Rachel would no doubt illustrate, the important thing for her was to get off benefits, and to get back into employment. She was fully aware of the rules surrounding the 13-week deadline to get a job connected to social work, and had not objected to complying with that rule.
If this is a widespread practice, one has to ask who benefits. The jobseeker has to sell himself or herself short, and the potential employer does not see the full picture – thus losing the chance to take on someone with an eye to promoting them if the situation were to arise in the future.
The only winner is the person counting the unemployment figures, regardless of whether square pegs are going into round holes. And if that’s the best we can do, it’s not good enough.