As part of the New Deal programme for the long-term (over 6 months) unemployed, I attended a programme centre in Beverley, run by the company Instant Muscle. The programme centre provides information, support and resources designed to help the unemployed return to work (Why such facilities are not also available to the newly unemployed is a different matter).
Having said I would consider office work as a temporary option, I was informed of a vacancy for a Data Entry Clerk. This was advertised by Manpower, a recruitment agency, with whom I would be based. I applied, and was invited to an interview. I was then invited to meet Manpower again on 29 August 2001, together with two others who had applied; we all started work the same day.
I worked at National Westminster Bank (NatWest), at their branch on Silver Street, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire. My duties were to maintain and amend computer-based customer records. At the start, this involved adjusting the name and address details in order to meet given criteria; each name and address had to be rewritten, in pencil, in a grid to ensure it would fit, after which the changes were entered into the customer record. Checks were made before and after each change to ensure everything was as it should be. When not changing details myself, I was asked to check other people's work.
On 13 September, and on request, I visited the Manpower office. There, I was told that as I had been working too slowly at NatWest, I was no longer wanted there (NatWest). The problem, as I explained in response, had nothing to do with typing: my typing speed had already been tested by Manpower and found to be acceptable. I was held back by my writing the addresses, character by character, into the grids. I may also have been checking my work more carefully than necessary.
It should be noted, however, that although my work rate had reached little more than 50% of the official target, it was approaching 80% of the potential revised target, and possibly rising. And there were times during the day at which I was meeting at least the latter.
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