Rethinking the Job Centre experience

Tech solutions to help address job matching challenges in Manchester based Job Centres.

There are many jobs available in the Manchester area however users of the job centre have not been successful at getting these jobs. A few barriers to these jobs  include skills gaps, desire, motivation, criminal records and lack of experience.

The users included those applying for jobs (the claimant) and those helping them find the jobs (the coach) . We conducted user interviews with the aim of understanding the problem from the coach’s point of view. We also spoke with former claimants to understand their painpoints

I worked in a small team of four, My role in the team involved user interviews; collaborative sketching and designing the prototype in Marvel App.


1. Empathise

I conducted some user research using social media, I received a range of useful feedback that echoed the challenges faced by the DWP.  All members of our team interviewed the job centre coaches and former job centre claimants.  This helped us identify the pain points experienced by both user groups.

One of the most telling responses from the research.

2. Identifying the needs

Claimants felt: Unqualified for work they are put forward for. Misunderstood by the job coachesLow in mood due to lack of success in the job hunt.

Coaches felt:There was very little time available to get to know users due to admin work loadsUsers did not know what kind of work they wanted to do.It was a challenge to help users match their career goals with whats available in the market.Identifying transferable skills would help expand users opportunities

3. Ideation

As a team we identified the friction between the candidate and job coach could be eased by a solution that would help reduce the coach's admin work load so he would be freed up to get to know the candidate. The idea would be for the claimant to enter all necessary admin tasks before the initial meeting using the app that we would designIntegrate a personality test that would help the candidate identify her strengths & available Job Opportunities based on the test results. This could also be an opportunity to suggest relevant stills training projects.Integrate an element of emotional support to keep the candidate motivated, this could also include, an immediate therapist approved set of articles too motivate claimants on their job hunt.

4. Prototype

I designed a clickable prototype using Marvel App based on our sketches and ideas generated from the interviews and user research.

5. Validate

We tested the prototype with a former job centre user and he felt that sharing such personal information with the coach would seem intrusive so we decided to make the emotional health aspect of the app private only to the candidate. I designed a simpler less intrusive question that would be fed back to the coach so he would be sensitive to the users needs without being too intrusive. We tested this idea with the same user and he felt this would be more acceptable and would help the coach be more sensitive to the candidates state of mind before the interview.

We designed a solution that would

  • Aid the job coach in collecting all necessary admin before the interview like job's applied for and other general admin information so when user arrives the coach can focus the time on more positive conversation or help if in difficulty.
  • Give the user mental health support so the user stays motivated throughout the process with therapist approved resources.
  • The app would direct the user to available jobs more suited to the user

Great to see you taking it forward! Psychological profiling seems like a really exciting way to make the job market more efficient, but we must be careful to get the security and privacy aspects right. Your prototype looks great so far and look forward to v0.2!

- Dan Tanham | Deputy Director DWP Digital

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