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Public Sector & Defence careers

Work & Benefits

Who handles work & benefits in the UK?

If you’re keen to make a vital difference to poverty, unemployment and the lives of older people, people on benefits and the nation’s workforce, it’s about time you investigated the careers available within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its operational organisations: The Pension Service, The Disability and Carers Service and Jobcentre Plus.

What roles exist within work & benefits?

With unemployment rates not looking great and the recession hitting communities pretty hard, more and more people are in need of governmental support. The DWP and its executive agencies play a vital role in helping people to find work and receive the right benefits. Moreover, they lead the government’s State Pension agenda and devise policies and initiatives to help older people in the UK.

The DWP focuses on devising strategies and developing policies related to work, pensions and benefits. The people employed by their various customer delivery organisations are then tasked with implementing these initiatives and providing frontline guidance and support to the public.

The department is massive and currently employs over 100,000 people. A wealth of career options are available in this area.

Examples include:

  • Administrative roles
  • Contact Centre jobs
  • Managerial opportunities
  • Statisticians
  • Research analysts
  • Economists
  • Legal Advisors
  • Finance professionals.

If you pursue a career in this area, you could be working in a departmental office, conducting research and analysis to influence governmental policy making. You could, or be on the frontline in a Jobcentre Plus, helping unemployed people to fill out their application form for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), or you could work in a contact centre,  answering older people’s queries regarding their pensions.

What will my role be in work & benefits?

The administrative staff employed by DWP and its executive agencies are vital to the efficient running of the organisation’s back-office functions and its frontline customer services. Entry as an administrative assistant is the most popular route to take and the vast majority of the organisation’s employees work in some form of administrative capacity.

If you take on a lower-level administrative role, you will provide general admin support to more senior members of staff, filing, dealing with enquiries and maintaining databases. As you progress, you may have more face-to-face engagement with jobseekers and people applying for disability benefits, housing benefits or pensions. These careers are available to people from all academic backgrounds, so you don’t necessarily need a degree to begin working as an administrator.

The DWP deals with thousands of enquiries every day and therefore, they can’t meet everyone face-to-face. Consequently, tons of people are employed to deal with public enquiries over the telephone from the comfort of contact centres. In these roles you will deal with a range of customers, taking their details, inputting them into computer systems, answering questions and referring people to the relevant services.

Quite often, you will be the first point of contact for people wishing to claim benefits, find work or discuss their pension. If you work in one of these positions, you will be dealing with a range of people with a variety of different issues.

There will inevitably be times when people may be antagonistic or upset at their current situation. Consequently, you’re going to need bags of patience and awesome communication skills to thrive in this line of work. No specific academic requirements are essential for these roles. Indeed, opportunities are available to school leavers as well as graduates.

Once you have excelled in an administrative position, you may progress to take on a managerial role within an administrative team or a corporate services department, such as HR or marketing. This will mean an increased amount of decision-making responsibilities and direct managerial duties. Entry into these roles can be an option earlier on in your career if you enter the DWP as part of the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate programme..

The DWP also employs a range of specialist civil servants who work their socks off to make the UK’s work, pensions and benefits services the best they can possibly be. If you pursue a career in this area, you could be providing vital support to education ministers and policy-makers by conducting statistical or social research and offering advice and guidance on the formulation of policy.

Alternatively, you could be supporting the decision makers that regulate and control the work and benefits system by taking on a role in HR, finance, I.T. or legal departments.

Financial planning, reporting and management are vital to the DWP’s operations. The computer systems and financial processes that distribute benefit payments to the public need to be managed effectively by a dedicated team of finance professionals. Moreover, financial specialists and economists are vital for devising the department’s financial strategy, which allows the DWP to continue to provide its services..

So if you’re a supportive character, you may well be of great benefit (cue tumble weed) in a work and benefits role!