I went and did my initial sign on for JSA last week. The process was mainly painless although a little delayed due to the office being quite busy. As far as I could tell the first floor was given over to new claims (and possibly follow-ups) as the normal sign on location is downstairs. Talking to one of the agents she confirmed they are currently rushed off their feet with new cases. The new claims started to pick up last November and have been going strong ever since. The agents were keen to point out there are things the job centre will pay for including travel to interviews. However when I enquired about local VC Meet N' Greets and the possibility of paying exam fees for certification I drew apologetic shrugs. The phrase used was the rather charming "We are not really set up for people as job ready as you". So as long as I write to at least one agency/company a week and read the relevant job postings I'm good for about 3 months before they review my l33t job hunting skills.
This brings me to the most frustrating aspect of the process which is dealing with some of the agencies. People I've dealt with before I usually pretty clued up but some of the agencies (at the behest of their clients) are suffering from the Moon on a Stick paradox. The reasoning seems to be because of the current economic climate the world is awash with available engineers. The result they conclude is if they wait long enough they can hire (cheaply) someone who ticks every box. It's a slightly more acute form of TLA bingo that lead to my meta-morphing CV to ensure which-ever combination of my skills someone may want can be found.
It's ultimately a short sighted approach as the value of an engineer isn't in having done exactly the same in his old job as you want him to do now. Once you've learned a few languages (say something system level, a modern scripting language and maybe a bit of XML/HTML) picking up new languages is pretty easy. It goes doubly so for libraries which one would hope you chose for your implementation because they are well documented and consistent. I'll freely admit to not having the entire C99 spec memorised in my head or comprehensive knowledge of CPAN. If I'm not sure about something I'll read the man page or the source code. Frankly I'd be suspicious of anyone who claimed they didn't need to.