For reasons I can’t remember I visited the various Manchester Jobcentres. Not actually, you understand, but virtually from my mountain fastness, on the sofa, from a lap-top. I was slightly surprised to find that what had been a Jobcentre in Fountain Street appeared to now be a betting shop. I therefore re-invented the Jobcentre as a ‘Virtual’ one, for they still appeared to be posting vacancies with their own proper Office Code. I’ve written about it here in this Blog. But Manchester Fountain Street wasn’t the only one. A number of other offices don’t appear to have a bricks-and-mortar presence and I feel that a bit of automated research would be in order.
It isn’t that easy. The original Jobcentre finding web-site location appears to have been an early victim of the Jobcentre Plus web-site reorganisation a couple of years ago, when Jobseekers Direct was ‘invented’. The official site is now los.direct.gov.uk which isn’t the most user-friendly thing that I’ve come across. A number of folk are also of that opinion and therefore there are a number of web-sites available which claim to fill the need of identifying your local Jobcentre. I suppose, upon reflection, mine has modest ambitions in this area too.
Anyhow, since my list of Jobcentre address’ seem out of date I resorted to scraping this Direct.gov web-site in its entirety. The web-site only affords the ability to type in a postcode and then be advised of your local Jobcentre. This it does grudgingly, sometimes giving the address for a “Benefit Delivery Centre” some distance away, that’s not open to the public. The addresses that it does return, when it returns an address for a Jobcentre, can be incorrect and have caused problems when an attempt was made to use the postcodes found therein. Needless to say, scraping this thing is quite hard work in its own right, it required a largish input of ‘candidate’ postcodes and the results examined for real Jobcentre Plus offices. But I’ve now a list and I’ve put it up, as is traditional, in Comma Separated Value (CSV) form on the FTP site.I’ve compared the results to my existing list of Jobcentre Addresses, known to be posting under their own, proper, Office Code and found about sixty-odd anomalies. I had hoped to try and make a link between known Jobcentres, complete with their Office Codes, Twitter names and so forth but this is proving harder to execute than I expected. Not all of the list seems complete, some major omissions appear in the ‘official’ list. Central Coventry, for example, has lost Cofa Court and now just has “Cannock Benefit Delivery Centre”. There are other omissions that I can’t be that certain about. Are they now-closed Jobcentres still posting zombie-like with their old Office Code? I thought I’d try and ascertain this by looking the address up on Google Street View and seeing if there was still a Jobcentre in the picture. This is not as accurate a method as one would have hoped for. One particular example has a Jobcentre in the middle of a Nuclear Power station and Cockermouth still seems to have a Jobcentre too.
I therefore must throw this open to crowd-sourcing, in the hope that local knowledge can be shared nationally. So, please, please do send feedback. Except for viewers in Northern Ireland, that is. They’ve their own separate set of Snarks to hunt.