No Mobile, No Job
By Mike Masnick, Tue Mar 01 01:00:00 GMT 2005

Recognizing the importance of being reachable in finding jobs, the Australian government has decided that jobseekers should be loaned mobile phones. It's yet another sign of how central mobile phones have become to our work lives.

Technology is becoming increasingly important to the average worker. In fact, not having access to certain technologies can really hold someone back. Since a lack of access is often due to already being behind the curve, there's always a fear that those who don't have access to certain technologies will always be held back. However, in recent years, there have been a number of efforts to overcome this "digital divide."

Two years ago, the state of Kentucky decided that broadband connections were a human right, and declared that all new low-income housing projects would have broadband connections installed. Later that year, Cisco recognized the difficulty homeless people had in finding jobs when they couldn't leave a phone number to call. To help solve that situation, it donated voicemail boxes for the homeless, so they could give out numbers and check their messages. Meanwhile, a French charity felt that in a digital age, emails and websites were quite important as well -- and donated those to the homeless.

Clearly, there are efforts under way to make sure that those who are down on their luck have access to the right technologies to help climb out of the troubles they're currently facing. The latest is the Australian government who has noticed just how difficult it seems to get a job without having a mobile phone. In response, it's now setting up a program where mobile phones can be loaned out to jobseekers for use in job hunting.

What's most interesting about this story, however, are the stats given about just how much having a mobile phone increases your chances of getting a job. While it would be nice to have a bit more background information about the methodology used for these stats, the results seem pretty clear: "having a mobile phone increased an unemployed person's chance of getting a job referral by 40 per cent and improved the chance of securing a job by 30 per cent." On top of that, jobseekers in Australia have found SMS text messaging to be a valuable tool, as well, suggesting that employers are increasingly using text messaging. Not everything in the statistics was wonderful. The study also found that those who made use of the "loan phone" tended to find more part-time or "casual" jobs, rather than full-time employment. However, that could be a function of being able to find more potential jobs as well.

Either way, it shows how mobile phones are becoming so central to how people work these days that it's becoming a noticeable disadvantage for workers to not have such a phone. Providing a pool of phones that can be loaned out to those without phones seems like a simple and effective way to help jobseekers find new jobs quickly.