Dealing With Unemployment: Whose “Job” Is It?

In a previous blog post, “The Emotional Flat Tire“, I stated I found another employment assistance centre to aid me in my job search. After six weeks of being one of their clients, I asked my contact at the St. Stephen’s Community Centre to close my file because I felt I was not being helped. I did not receive any responses to my inquiries for updates, even after many attempts to reach my contact. In fact, the only time I got a response was when I asked my contact to close my file. Just to clarify, it was an amicable parting of the ways. I wished my contact nothing but the best.

To clarify further, this post is not about launching a bash-fest against employment assistance centres. It’s about how much help the unemployed, such as myself, are expected to receive in looking for work. There are two camps on this contentious issue.

The first group is composed of people who believe each of us is solely responsible for finding a job. Any unemployed person who asks for assistance is considered lazy and not serious in their willingness to work. Some of these people might even regale you with stories of how they came to Canada with just a few dollars and ratty clothes and, through hard work and perseverance, made a good life for themselves. I agree with where these people are coming from, but only up to a point.

The other group consists of those who believe corporations and governments are not doing their part in ensuring “jobs and housing for all”, and will even go as far to state corporations and the government are the reason why we have so many homeless and unemployed. Companies are trying to do more with less workers and resorting to offshoring, and governments are taxing too much and killing the economy. Again, I understand this reasoning, but I don’t fully agree with it.

I’ve been looking for work for about two and a half years. You could say this makes me an expert on the subject of unemployment, and like any expert on a subject, I have an opinion on why things have gone off the rails when tackling with unemployment. The TL;DR is we have forgotten over time that unemployment is a complex, compounded social problem. You can’t pin the  cause on one aspect of society.

You can’t blame the unemployed for not having a job. They’re trying, really trying. I know. I am one of them and this blog is just a small part of a massive machine dedicated to finding work. I won’t repeat the parts of that machine here, as it would take too much time. I would suggest reading my previous blog posts to get an idea what I have tried in order to land a job. Having said that, I shouldn’t expect to have a job just handed to me. No one should. Every person who is unemployed should be trying to find work. That’s our job (no pun intended).

Governments are not responsible for “creating jobs”. They are responsible for the political direction and control exercised over the members of a community such as a city or town, regions such as provinces, states, and districts, or the nation as a whole. They are, however, responsible for establishing an environment where a thriving workforce exists and in turn provides government revenues (in the form of taxes) to pay for services that keep the government going. This environment is composed of two parts: those providing employment, and those aiding in providing employment.

Employers make up the first part. Whether it’s a major multi-national corporation or a small SOHO, it is unreasonable to state businesses should be responsible for providing jobs for everyone. Businesses exist to make money, period. The only reason why businesses provide employment is because people are needed to collectively work together on the corporate purpose or focus. On the other side of that point, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that a small effort be made by businesses to allow in their operating model more entry-level positions that either require no experience, or offer more junior training positions or in-house apprenticeships. This would provide more employment opportunities for young people looking for work yet lack experience, and adults considering a career change.

Next we have the education system (which includes universities), private training centres geared toward a profession, and employment assistance centres. On the latter, it is true that employment assistance centres should not be forced to find work for people, as stated often from caseworkers in that field. Still, having dealt with two job assistance centres  in my job search — Career Foundation and St. Stephen’s Community Centre — I get the impression all employment assistance centres are working as a disorganized and fragmented collective. Each has their own funding model. Each offers varying degrees of the same services based on how much funding they receive. I also get the impression those centres are not working as closely with government and businesses as they should be. How else would this explain some of the advice I’ve received on how to land a job? I don’t think employers really give a hoot about “action words” in resumes, or “positive body images” during an interview. It’s more likely they just want to find the right candidate to fill a vacancy. For employers, the hiring process is tedious enough without having to wade through a pile of bafflegab during  interviews.

I think what is needed is a tighter, more seamless cohesion with both government and business. There should also be fewer yet much larger employment assistance centres that are better funded by either the government or the private sector. The funding should be directed on where the need is greatest. For example, if there is a need for construction workers, the employment assistance centres should receive the appropriate amount of funding — and direction on where to use the funding — so the need for construction workers is sated and the placement quota required by the agencies is met.

As I said, this is just my opinion, so it’s open for debate. I invite any comments on what I proposed in this blog post. One thing we all can agree on is that unemployment will continue to be a significant problem in society until everyone works together to bring the unemployed back to work, their confidence and feeling of self-worth restored by being contributing members of society.

Thanks for reading!


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