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Employability, services for unemployed job seekers and the digital divide

Lindsay, Colin (2005) Employability, services for unemployed job seekers and the digital divide. Urban Studies, 42 (2). pp. 325-339. ISSN 0042-0980

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Providing accurate and accessible labour market information is a key priority for policies targeted at improving the employability of unemployed people. In an attempt to develop the quality and reach of such services, policy-makers are increasingly turning to ICT, and particularly the Internet. However, there are concerns that the expansion of services delivered through ICT risks leaving behind the most disadvantaged. This paper investigates the current and potential role of ICT within the job-seeking activities of unemployed people in one urban labour market (the city of Glasgow). Deploying the concept of the 'digital divide' as an analytical framework, it examines differences between job seekers' access to, and use of, the Internet. The paper finds an association between higher levels of economic capital (income) and cultural capital (skills) and Internet access and job seeking. It is argued that a renewed commitment to the development of community-based technology centres and ICT training for the unemployed is required, if disadvantaged job seekers are to reap the potential employability gains associated with the expansion of on-line services.