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The Right Job

January 18, 2012

I really liked the item in last week’s newspapers about a woman, newly graduated, who was volunteering in a museum while looking for a job in that sector. As she was also claiming Unemployment Benefit, the Benefit office ordered her to do two weeks shelf-stacking in a Poundland store – apparently with the prospect of a job interview at the end of it. The graduate claimed that she got nothing from the work experience, no interview ever happened, and is suing the Government for exploitation.

Now, I’m the first to want the “’Uman Rights Act” repealed in this country as it is a licence for officious lunatic behaviour – and I’m the first to condemn anybody using it as such. In this case, though, I REALLY hope the lady wins.

Why? Because it might inject some common sense into the system. Without having the full facts (there are two sides to every story, of course) it seems on the surface that somebody working at something that might get them a job that they are qualified to do was asked to do something that would set their career back – and indeed take a place away from somebody else who might be seeking a retail career (quite a fun sector to work in, as I’ve done often).

Common sense would instantly suggest the museum worker should have her work designated as appropriate as the shop job – and be treated accordingly.

From my own experience, I know the system is set up to benefit / target only those at the very bottom of the heap. Defenceless folk who won’t or can’t fight back, sly ones who figure out how to cheat the system, and heaven help anybody decent who is forced into one of those places.

The staff there do take a battering from some customers, but are also tied by rules so stolid that anybody going against them is crushed by them; but anybody wishing to tunnel under them can do so without fear of being crushed by them.

In my own case, I was once offered a much needed job in a place about 15 miles from any public transport whatsoever and no housing either – the era of the ‘out of town offices’ that infrastructure never caught up with. The much touted “social fund” was offering loans to help people get into work… could they help – perhaps with a car loan or rent deposit? No! Result: one claimant continued until, two weeks later, he realised what a crock it all was and started doing his own thing. Oh, and I know four others who came to the same conclusions and did the same.

My point is that it isn’t really about “stopping the Shameless Community of Chatsworth Estate” from defrauding us all – as I know, you never know when you may need the system you pay into each week. What it is about is having the imagination to target the right help to each individual. My guess is that the sooner staff are free to do this, the sooner the enormous cost of the system will fall…

Nice dreaming, anyway.


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