As I am currently (1/6/03) starting my second week of the New Deal Gateway To Work course, I have decided to offer up some information on my own experiences in the hope of helping others out.

As mentioned in another writeup, the New Deal is a scheme introduced by the Labour government of the UK to try and help the long term unemployed. It's just a shame that some of us don't need help, we just need to be left alone. The scheme seems to be aimed at those with very few, if any, qualifications who would like to be a bricklayer but who could probably do any menial, unskilled manual labour going, if only they would sober up once in a while.

One particularly troublesome aspect of the New Deal is the fact that your Jobsearch Advisor will find it much easier to force you to go for jobs that you have no interest in. For example, in a couple of days I will attend an interview for a three month office position, talking to people on the 'phone and entering data into a computer. Six years of education, an Honors Degree in Computing, £12,000 of debt and probably the same again spent simply on living, and they want me to be a data entry clerk. The day after, I'm going for a job as a network technician on twice the pay and with a company car, so obviously I'll be trying hard at the interview to become a data entry clerk. I had better new screw it up too much though, or I'll loose my benefits assuming I don't get the other job.

Another aspect of New Deal is that you are required to attend the Job Centre for an interview once a week, rather than once every two weeks as is normal. This is probably supposed to allow your advisor to nag you a bit more often, in the hopes of making you take any random job they can find and get you off the national statistics. In practice, it can be very depressing, as you seem to be making slower progress than before (due to only being able to read the weekly jobs paper once instead of twice, having less time to look etc) and by making you attend the Pit of Long Term Loosers, er... I mean Job Centre more often.

If you advisor really does start to get to you, remember that you can not only complain but also ask to see someone else.

Just in case your spirit was not already broken, it is mandatory to attend the Gateway to Work course when on New Deal. This has been detailed in another writeup for this node, however I would like to add a few things. The "stuck in a desert" game seems to be fairly universal, it's point apparently being that each item can have many uses, and therefore as a computer programmer you may like to turn your fantastic IT skills to data entry, rather than trying to justify your life so far by getting something that pays a bit more than minimum wage. Sorry, I'm a little disillusioned.

So far, the Gateway to Work course as taught me one thing: that my CV would be better if I removed the paragraph indentation. I feel this is sure to get me a job, although I'm slightly disappointed that the standard of English has fallen so far since I left school.