There's been almost a decade-long jobs crisis in the UK, a very demoralising state of affairs for those who'd rather be working than signing on each week in order to claim much-needed benefits. It's a problem exacerbated by seriously-lacking resources at the Jobcentre offices, where ageing computer systems are yet another barrier to beat before finding employment for the many still out of work.
Thankfully, Jobcentres are about to get dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age, with the government announcing plans to kit out hundreds of sites with state of the art computers and even biometric technologies.
Minister for Employment Esther McVey announced the upgrades, revealing that 700 Jobcentre points will be getting the investment injection, with 6,000 new PC workstations in total being brought in to supplement existing stock. All the Jobcentre's labyrinthine software systems will also be rolled into one package going forward too, which should cut down on the confusion some computer-illiterate jobseekers have to overcome during each weekly visit.
In a new measure to beat benefits cheats and cut back on costly paperwork, 23,000 electronic signing pads will be sent to Jobcentres too, replacing the paper booklets that job seekers currently use to sign on with. These pads will take biometric measurements including handwriting recognition methods to ensure that those that should be attending appointments with employment officers aren't skiving off, letting others sign on for them and claiming benefits without having the intention of finding work. After a successful testing period at a London Bridge branch, the new system is expected to save £2 million per year. [Mirror]