Monday, 8 August 2011


Observation the First - If kids are going without breakfast their mums probably are too
I get really fed up with the narrative that seems to go with child poverty, as exhibited by the number of kids going to school without breakfast, that seeks to blame the parents.  When food is short in a household often mum is the first to cut her rations.  This is not a situation where there are gluttonous parents hoovering up all the food and not caring that their kids are hungry.  It is a situation where there are families in our society who cannot afford to buy food.  By framing it as the former we can Otherize it - it's Their fault, they are not like me/us, and it's therefore Someone Else's Problem.  To accept it's actually the latter I guess we may need to step up and recognise that our society is something that we can have some say over - we make choices, particularly political choices, that have consequences for others.  To change society is daunting, but shouldn't the systems we live in serve rather than hinder?

Observation the Second - There are not enough jobs
There's been multi-purpose whining about how the youth unemployment rate is a direct result of the abolition of youth rates.  Employers are supposedly giving jobs to older people instead of youf because they can't get away with paying less than the adult minimum wage for young workers.  Older people are competing for places that traditionally went to the young uns because they are losing their own jobs, or their financial situations have changed resulting in the need for second and third incomes.  I really noticed over the weekend the high number of shops shutting, empty commercial spaces for lease, and a large number of retail sales that looked like the immediate precursor to closing down (shelves emptying out, no new stock coming in, quite big discounts on everything).  I also spotted a lot of older workers in the kind of retail jobs that used to be predominantly filled by those in their teens or early twenties.  The layoffs, public and private, don't seem to be getting much media but they are real, and it's definitely a buyer's labour market at the moment.

Observation the Third - A lot of people are moving to Australia for better prospects
In the 90s most of my friends were people I met through university, where we were studying together, and so hardly anyone I knew shifted to Australia.  Then in the 00s a lot of my peers did the OE thing, and some have not come back, but very very few actively moved across the Tasman as a result of a failure to find work here.  Lately week after week I feel I'm hearing of a new acquaintance, relative or friend who is making the shift.  Then there was the woman on Nat Rad from Christchurch last week who sounded very bitter about the lack of support for her family to stay.

What is this Government actually doing about job creation?  Whatever happened to whatever mysterious wondrousness came out of the Jobs Summit?  The Market is not providing; for kids, for their parents, for young, for old, for inbetween.  When do we start asking questions about the system we live in, not the individuals caught in it?


A Nonny Moose said...

I know our job market is really up the wazoo when a friend of mine is moving to the US for a job. The irony!

I'm employed but looking (for various reasons), and the competition for everything I've applied for is over-the-top fierce.

A said...

When I was made redundant I figured I'd get a job soon enough. I'm qualified, have great references, I have a good strong CV, I haven't moved around a lot, was working within a week (in my chosen field) of finishing uni. I was in my previous position five years before I was made redundant. I knew there was competition but I figured if you wanted work and were a hard worker you'd get work.

I have applied for 45 jobs since then. I've had five interviews including reaching a fifth stage for one interview (two tests, three panel interviews). I've sat two exams/tests for entry-level positions despite the fact that I'm almost a senior in my field.

I have had no "luck". My career is over. I am now looking at any job but was recently told not to bother applying for housekeeping work as I don't have experience. And was told by a friend who manages a New World that they wouldn't hire me as I don't have supermarket experience.

I am over-qualified, under-qualified, or my qualifications don't suit. I have too much experience, not enough experience or the wrong kind of experience. I don't even get to the stage where my references are called. I get nervous in interviews because I am so absolutely desperate for work. I have to be really careful with what I wear to interviews because I want to cover the anxiety rashes I've developed as well as still looking professional but also, not too dressed up, or dressed down.

I went to one interview where there were dozens of other people there and they just went round the room and did a 'group' interview for a minimum wage entry-level position. It was humiliating.

This is the reality of job seeking right now. I had no idea I'd lose everything by being made redundant. And on top of everything else I get to listen to people claim I'm just not going after the right jobs, and that actually wages are going up and there is plenty of work out there for people who want to work. That is total, absolute bullshit.

Hugh said...

The government's theory is that tax cuts will lead to the wealthy expanding their businesses and thus creating more jobs. They might not come out and say it, but that's the baseline neo-liberal approach to job creation.

I'm not going to say it never works, but I don't think high taxes are the problem in New Zealand at the moment. The only other obvious way to create jobs is to prime the pump by pouring money into the economy, something National are ideologically opposed to doing and can't afford to do anyway (see tax cuts).

Placebogirl said...

A, I'm so, so sorry. If you need to move to Australia and you aren't allergic to cats, I have a spare room in Melbourne you can use for a couple of weeks (contact the blog admins for my email address). My partner and I have been a bit of a stopping point for Kiwis looking for work.

Julie, sing it sister. I'm so glad we got out 5 years ago, and so frustrated that my mum doesn't seem able to recognise the fact that her desire for lower taxes is the reason she sees me only four times a year, and my brother only once.