120,000 FAKE OR DUPLICATE POSITIONS REMOVED FROM UNIVERSAL JOBSMATCH
In the last 18 months, tens of thousands of jobseekers – including graduates – have been told they must sign up to Universal Jobsmatch to find work, or risk losing their benefits. But now it has emerged that a fifth of the positions advertised on the official Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) jobs site are fakes, duplicates or even fraudulent attempts to con jobseekers out of money.
The Guardian has revealed that at the start of March the DWP removed 120,000 adverts from the site, because they did not abide by the specified terms and conditions. Many were fakes or duplicates – while others were fraudulent. Among these were attempts to harvest applicants’ personal details for identity fraud, or to encourage desperate jobseekers to spend money needlessly, for example on fake criminal record checks. A leading MP has said the multimillion-pound project is “bedevilled with fraud” and now faces the axe when the contract comes up for renewal in 2016.
Although the scale of the problem has remained hidden until now, there have been previous indications of quality control issues with Universal Jobsmatch. Critics have spotted fake adverts for an MI6 “target elimination specialist”, and “international courier” positions with “CosaNostra [Mafia] Holdings”, as well as listings for porn websites. Secret documents seen by the Guardian explain that civil servants have been unable to determine how many genuine employment vacancies are listed on the site. According to one email, the data simply is not “robust” and rectifying the issue will be expensive.
Universal Jobsmatch was created in partnership with the recruitment website Monster. While Monster is known to have profited from the deal, it is widely thought that the government – not Monster – is to blame for Universal Jobsmatch’s most serious flaws, as many of the civil servants’ requests for improvements have not even been passed on to Monster. Monster – the first major UK job board to ban adverts for unpaid internships – declined to comment, but Stephen O’Donnell, who runs the National Online Recruitment Awards, said that although Monster had made “very good money” on the contract, the DWP was to blame for creating a “real mongrel of a website”. He told the Guardian:
“Monster … have real expertise worldwide in building spectacular job boards. They more or less invented the industry. So you do think ‘how come it’s so bad’? The reason for that is the civil servants basically told Monster ‘forget everything you know about job boards, this is what we want’.
“…I do not hold Monster at fault: they have been directed by the DWP to do what they are told. I think it’s criminally unfair to sanction jobseekers for not using such a clumsily built website, rife with spammers … identity thieves and anonymous job ads.”
But a spokesman for the DWP defended the website, telling the Guardian:
“Universal Jobmatch revolutionises the way jobseekers find work and ithas already helped many jobseekers find the jobs they want since it was launched in 2012.
“How people find work has become increasingly digital so it’s right – and responsible – that DWP should continually look to ensure we are making the best offer to jobseekers.
“The current Universal Jobmatch contract comes to an end in 2016 so any speculation on what will happen after that is premature.”
Graduate Fog is deeply concerned about these revelations, which suggests poor decision-making and management behind Universal Jobsmatch, a vitally important service for the UK’s hundreds of thousands of jobseekers. If people seeking work are being threatened with benefits cuts, the government must provide them with access to good quality opportunities via an online resource in which the safety and security of users is guaranteed.
*HAVE YOU USED UNIVERSAL JOBSMATCH?
What do you think of it? Did you spot any fake, duplicate or fraudulent adverts? Is it fair that jobseekers have been told they could face losing their benefits cut if they do not sign up to the service? Should Monster give back the fees they earned from this project – or is it the DWP that’s to blame for the problems? Have your say below…