Grad Scheming (13): Labour’s Big Idea for JSA – a translation

Grad Scheming

I have decided to try my hand at translation. The two languages are, grammatically, almost identical. I shall translate from Labour leader Ed Miliband’s English to my native tongue, plain English. I’m not qualified so there may be some debate on my translations. Some may call them clunky, or say I am over-stripping, that if I left in a little more bullshit the beauty of the original Miliband language might be preserved.

Ed Miliband has presented a Big Idea for cutting jobseekers allowance, based on the following maxim: Britain’s young people who do not have the skills they need for work should be in training, not on benefits.”

No more jobseekers allowance for you, 18-to-21-Year-Old-Who-Hasn’t-Found-a-Job-Yet (I’ll call you “Tim” for short). Labour plan to end out-of-work benefits for around 100,000 Tims and replace it with another payment that’s means-tested according to parental income, and dependent on “training”. So, instead of getting money with which to buy frivolous things like food and shelter, Tim will be getting “training” and less money (because Tim’s parents are of course rich, by virtue of being old, and willing to give him as much as he needs).

This may seem simple but given the vast cultural differences between politicians and those of us who live in The Real World, some translation – and a massive slow clap – is needed.

They say: “Young people don’t have the skills for work”

Translation: “Businesses don’t want to spend money training entry-level employees, so demand that they come ready-made. They would be delighted to pass this cost on to the government if the government are ever stupid enough to offer.”

The recession and following job crisis is, in terms of recruitment, the best thing that ever happened to businesses. Remember the term “on-the-job training”? It went out of fashion in the last few years, when recruiters realised that they were buyers in a buyer’s market and could demand whatever the hell they wanted from potential employees, then sit back as thousands scrambled to appease them.

Hence ridiculous requests like “graduates with five years’ experience”, as a Central Saint Martin’s student was told he needed for an entry-level assistant job in a clothes store. Sure, he’d folded pants before, but he hadn’t honed his folding skills over five years so frankly, what good would he have been to them for £18k a year?

They say: “Young people who are out of work need need training, not benefits.”

Translation: “We’ve noticed that for some reason, young people are suddenly lacking in skills. This has never been a problem with any generations that came before this massive recession…what could the connection be? Oh! We know! Since school does not magically train young people for what employers need, and employers aren’t willing to do it themselves, we’re going to make taxpayers pay for it.”

I love the idea that suddenly young people are lacking skills previous generations had. Like somehow we got a bad batch of youngster, because it was the 90s and pregnant women thought red After Shock was good for the baby. The admission that young people lack training is baked right into their policy, yet no one is asking why this has to come from government rather than schools or employers. How have businesses managed to pass on the cost of training their entry-level employees without anyone raising a fuss? Should we fund their office space as well?

They say: “The ‘youth allowance’ will be means-tested on parental income.”

Translation: “Even though we’re doing nothing to incentivise businesses to hire young people, we’re passing the cost of unemployment benefit on to young jobseekers’ parents. Because all parents are present, willing and able to financially support their adult children.”

Hey, boomers! Congrats on being the generation that votes. It’s really gone well for you hasn’t it? Now, not only have businesses blamed your “unskilled” kids for their frugal employment freeze, but after all that tax you paid, you’re still expected to support your kids financially because the government just don’t feel like doing it anymore. They’re too busy providing all the training businesses don’t want to pay for.

This myth that the parents of the downtrodden youth are necessarily rolling in it needs to die with the Loch Ness Monster. Fat chunks of the supposedly affluent middle classes are one pay cheque away from bankruptcy. Employed people are claiming housing benefit in their thousands, because now even a job can’t lift people out of poverty. It’s all hanging by a thread.

They say: “The policy is not punitive, it’s designed to get young people the skills they need to get a job.”

Translation: “I’m a disingenuous tool, please throw long-expired foodstuffs at my eyes.”

Not only is this policy a mass reshuffling of who pays for what (with businesses once again getting the break), it’s another sneaky way to hide the fact that there aren’t enough jobs.

We’ve seen this same old youth-shaming and victim-blaming since the job crisis hit. Employment Minister Esther McVey had the nerve to claim young people lacked basic skills like “turning up on time” – quite an amazing remark to make about a group of people several million strong. Born recently? Late for work. Sure, Esther. That follows.

It utilises the now-familiar argument that’s designed to toss blame back on to jobseekers, “Well, young people, maybe you’re not good enough for a job as a cleaner”– as if there are plenty of jobs going, as if the only reason they’re jobless is their own brazen incompetence and manifest shiteness, as if managers are crying out for applicants who don’t turn up to the interview with breadsticks up their nose.

They’ve taken that argument, pretended it’s true, and used it as the basis for a policy.

If you’d all like to join me in a massive slow-clap…

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