I’ve worked on and off (mostly on) in social and community work since 1996 and have always been interested unemployment and the issues surrounding it (good thing really as my life is taken up with creating employment through social enterprise!).
On my recent trip to the UK, I of course rekindled my love affair with the print copy of the Guardian newspaper. I grabbed a copy (30th Oct 2013) for the flight home to Australia and read a great opinion piece by Martin Bright the founder of the Creative Society on the future of employment.
There were a couple of things that struck me about Martin’s piece, which is about a speech he gave on the future of employment, due to the title bequeathed to him by Nesta, the national body to promote innovation in science, technology and the arts (and now public policy) as Jobs Innovator.
He say’s that to get people back into work it is obvious that:
1. Having a job makes you more employable, or to put this blindingly obvious truism another way; the best way to get people back to work is to find them a job – not work experience, not an unpaid internship – a real job. This is why well-targeted job subsidies to employers, though expensive, are an effective way to buck the cycle of welfare dependency and may, ultimately, prove more economically sustainable than leaving people on the dole.
2. Unpaid work is a crime. There is no moral case for not paying a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work and government procurement should reflect this by refusing to award contracts to companies that use free labour.
no. 3 is pretty UK centric for obvious reasons, it’s about UK job centres.
4. Make a job, don’t take a job. This is a mantra adopted from the start-up culture of the US. But it applies equally to Britain, where there is no obvious growth area in traditional employment. Young people need to be encouraged to set up their own businesses, or encouraged to understand the nature of self-employed and freelance working.
5. There is no silver bullet. Politicians of every stripe talk about apprenticeships as if they will halt the national decline. Simply creating more apprenticeships will not achieve this. But nor will a jobs guarantee or a revival of the enterprise allowance scheme or sweeping aside everything that has gone before in an attempt to create a single monolithic Work Programme.
Good words from Martin and the Creative Society is well worth a look at too.