Rewired State: JobcentreProPlus

On Saturday I was at RewiredState. A bunch of geeks got together to build things. We wanted to show government how it’s done!

rewired state

At the end of the day, we each got two minutes to present what we’d done to each other, and an assemblage of government types. People did some really cool stuff, from Rob McKinnon & co’s Compani.es, which is the website that Companies House ought to have, to a reimplementation of ActivePlaces. They scraped this multimillion pound website, got all their data, and then did with it in an afternoon what the site hasn’t managed to do with a massive budget and years of time. Great stuff. Emma Mulqueeny’s written some more about the day, and the other hacks.

Sam Smith and I got together to do a project. Given the current economic malaise, it’s quite important for people to be able to find jobs, and a little birdy turned us on to the fact that the JobCentre Plus site really isn’t good. In fact, it’s quite painful. To get any jobs out of it at all, you have to fill in 4 reasonably large forms. Once you have some jobs to look at, you can’t do anything with them. There’s no RSS, you can’t get email alerts for new jobs, and you can’t bookmark jobs you’re interested in, because their URLs don’t work properly. The next time you want to find jobs, you have to go through the whole ordeal again. Bleh.

jobcentre pro plus

Our task was to make this better. Sam wrote some scrapers to pull down Jobcentre’s data — which was no mean feat in itself — and I made a website to display it. It’s a bit rough and ready, but it works. You can go to www.jobcentreproplus.com, search for jobs in your area, view them, bookmark them, get email alerts, subscribe in your feed reader and use the API to search and display jobs on your own site. Everything that the real site should do and doesn’t.

We didn’t realise it at the time, but there were prizes for the hacks that the organisers liked the most. Rather suprisingly — given the very high quality of all the other projects — Sam and I won!

We’re really glad that they liked it, and we hope you will too. Have a look, and let us know what you think.

18 comments

  1. Comment by AJackson posted

    Incredibly useful, especially compared to the lurid green JCP site… but the locations don’t seem quite right.

    • Replies to AJackson>

      dxw staff member Comment by Harry posted

      You’re right — sometimes it’s a bit off. We’re working on it!

  2. Comment by AJackson posted

    Incredibly useful, especially compared to the lurid green JCP site… but the locations don’t seem quite right.

    • Replies to AJackson>

      Comment by Harry posted

      You’re right — sometimes it’s a bit off. We’re working on it!

  3. Comment by alex posted

    Harry and Sam

    Super job

    Have you a friend in the DWP who can publicise it ?

    If by locations you mean the miles from field, I would agree

    Alex

  4. Comment by alex posted

    Harry and Sam

    Super job

    Have you a friend in the DWP who can publicise it ?

    If by locations you mean the miles from field, I would agree

    Alex

  5. Comment by AJackson posted

    Mind you, the JCP site often used to tell me that I should be applying for jobs in Edinburgh, which was apparently 10 miles from London…

  6. Comment by AJackson posted

    Mind you, the JCP site often used to tell me that I should be applying for jobs in Edinburgh, which was apparently 10 miles from London…

  7. dxw staff member Comment by Harry posted

    Alex:

    I think they’re on the case 🙂

    AJackson:

    Yes — that does happen, unfortunately. Their location data isn’t very good, so we’re having to figure it out as best we can. I expect their site has the same problems!

  8. Comment by Harry posted

    Alex:

    I think they’re on the case 🙂

    AJackson:

    Yes — that does happen, unfortunately. Their location data isn’t very good, so we’re having to figure it out as best we can. I expect their site has the same problems!

  9. Comment by Adam posted

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with the locations returned in relation to the postcode. They might appear to be off, but if you look at the details these tend to be agency jobs placed on the jobcentre website. The postcode relates to the Agency handling the vacancy and not the location of the job.

    Excellent idea!

    Have direct.gov picked this up?

  10. Comment by Adam posted

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with the locations returned in relation to the postcode. They might appear to be off, but if you look at the details these tend to be agency jobs placed on the jobcentre website. The postcode relates to the Agency handling the vacancy and not the location of the job.

    Excellent idea!

    Have direct.gov picked this up?

  11. dxw staff member Comment by Harry posted

    I’m sure that’s that useful! It’s better than nothing, but really, I think people want to know where the job is — not the agency. Currently, we geocode based on the value of the Location field, and if that fails, we check for a postcode and use that instead.

    DirectGov are indeed talking to us, as are a couple of other people. Watch this space!

  12. Comment by Harry posted

    I’m sure that’s that useful! It’s better than nothing, but really, I think people want to know where the job is — not the agency. Currently, we geocode based on the value of the Location field, and if that fails, we check for a postcode and use that instead.

    DirectGov are indeed talking to us, as are a couple of other people. Watch this space!

  13. Comment by Tobias Escher posted

    Hi guys, congrats to this great project! I just hope it gets some more publicity.

    Is there any chance you will share the code for this project in the future? And I would be interested in whether you actually store the data in a database of your own and what you use to have the API produce the different output formats – presumably you did not code the different output formats yourself but there is some standard library to use?

    Anyway – great stuff!

  14. Comment by Tobias Escher posted

    Hi guys, congrats to this great project! I just hope it gets some more publicity.

    Is there any chance you will share the code for this project in the future? And I would be interested in whether you actually store the data in a database of your own and what you use to have the API produce the different output formats – presumably you did not code the different output formats yourself but there is some standard library to use?

    Anyway – great stuff!

  15. dxw staff member Comment by Harry posted

    Thanks!

    It’s all in a database and uses a quasi model-view-controller pattern — so no output libraries except perhaps for atom (I forget). Either way, it’s very easy to add new output formats.

    The code for the front-end is in a public SVN repos: https://code.www.dxw.com/jcpp/trunk. Feel free to check it out and have a play 🙂

    The code for the Scrapers is maintained by Sam Smith — I’m not sure if he’s put it anywhere public.

  16. Comment by Harry posted

    Thanks!

    It’s all in a database and uses a quasi model-view-controller pattern — so no output libraries except perhaps for atom (I forget). Either way, it’s very easy to add new output formats.

    The code for the front-end is in a public SVN repos: https://code.thedextrousweb.com/jcpp/trunk. Feel free to check it out and have a play 🙂

    The code for the Scrapers is maintained by Sam Smith — I’m not sure if he’s put it anywhere public.

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