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Government to target jobless with vacancy Web site

After a year of running the site it finally puts jobs online

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More than a year after the Employment Service (ES) launched its Web site, it has finally decided to use it to publicise jobs. Working in partnership with the outsourcing and services giant EDS, ES hopes that the site will eventually hold around 5,000 vacancies including hard-to-fill jobs and positions in Europe. At the moment, the site simply publishes information and is of little practical help to jobseekers. The new service is due to be launched on 1 April but according to a spokesman from the UK's third largest advice agency, it is no laughing matter. "This is an area where resources should have been directed sooner," said a spokesman for the Merton Unemployed Workers Centre, one of a network of advice centres around the country devoted to helping the unemployed. "Like most large organisations it appears reluctant to invest in technological innovation," he said. The apparent failure by ES to adopt the technology sooner appears to conflict with the government's much publicised support for the use of such technologies. Gary Parker, an ES project manager said: "We deliberately decided not to publish vacancies on the site because at the time, we didn't think we could do it well." He said there was some doubt whether enough unemployed people had access to the Web to justify the cost, a situation he now says has improved since Net access is more widely available through libraries and Job Clubs. Any suggestion that the unemployed could gain access by using machines in government-run Jobcentres was quickly quashed. Only a handful of the 1,000 or so Jobcentres scattered around the country has Net access, and this is restricted to Jobcentre staff. ®

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