Are we pre-conditioned for our working lives?

I was listening to a discussion on a news channel this morning in which there was a debate about the new British Coalition’s proposals to get unemployed people to where the work is by helping them re-locate, and how this sat with the review of the current range of benefits, particularly unemployment benefit (known as JobSeeker’s Allowance) and Incapacity Benefit for those deemed unfit to work. There is quite a lot of debate about Incapacity Benefit. Of course the majority who receive it are those for whom it is intended, but there was a suggestion that some long term unemployed receive this benefit because the State currently has no other options.

I do not want to debate these complex issues and there must be people much better able to comment than I. However, what was interesting to me was the general agreement that unemployment in young people in deprived areas was often a culture derived from their parents and sometimes their grandparents; possibly third generation unemployment. One commentator said that she felt that the problem was partly in failing to encourage the young to get a proper education; to pay attention at school. Some parents feel that school didn’t help them to get work so they do not encourage their children.

This seemed to me a worrying view, but when I thought about it I could see the point. It struck me that there is also a culture of employment which tends to make people think that should be their lot. Things have moved on since I started work, but at the time I went for a job in a bank because both my parents worked for banks and it was agreed to be the right thing to do. I only ventured into business on my own account when I lost my (well-paid) job and couldn’t get another of any sort due to a downturn and my more mature status. Running your own business needs a whole different mindset.

I applaud at least one local school which I understand does give near-leavers in the sixth form some time to study independent business – being self-employed – but I wonder how much we are conditioned through parenting and education, or lack of it, to be employed, self-employed or unemployed?

What do you think?

© Jon Stow 2010

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  1. HI John
    We have several such areas in Essex, one of which is Basildon – 3rd generation unemployment. Out of all the areas of unemployment this is the toughest to crack, because it’s two people (the advisor and the candidate) up against a family, and 99/100 the family wins.

    Believe me I have tried all angles, getting the parents in, helping the parents find work in order to help the youngest generation back into work and good habits, only to have to take up on the grandparents too, and my word! they are a blog entry on their own! They often don’t want help. I did manage to crack one or two with simple maths…

    When you get benefit you reach a point where you need only a few payments to achieve pension rather than benefit – no more job centre, no more job seeking. So I would find out how much, often £3/400 and explain if they worked and then paid this, they would be in a position where they could retire if their job finished and never have to sign on again… the next 5 years signing on or working for a few months then retiring, those that understood the maths walked straight into jobs.

  2. Thanks, Sarah. Interesting that pre-conditioned unemployment is a fact and so close to home too, and that you have tried to meet it with reason.

    It would be great if school students could look beyond the assumptions of their parents. It would have helped me but maybe nothing has changed. The old story of “if we had known then what we know now”.

    Thanks again for your insight.

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