Month: November 2012

Welcome To Jobs-R-Us, May I Take Your Order?

Not a real store logo, but it could happen. Imagine a future where you have to pay for getting a job, instead of just applying for one! Scary!

If you wanted something so badly, how far would you go? How much time and effort would you be willing to put into getting the object of your desire? What lines that define your pride and your personal system of ethics would you move — if not erase — to get it?

Would money be no object for you?

I ask these questions because I came across a Toronto Sun article about an Ontario man, Geoff Crane, who is willing to pay 25 thousand dollars (Canadian) to get a job in his chosen field.

I would never resort to buying a job, though I’m not faulting Geoff for his method of choice to find work. I have sympathy for his situation for many reasons. He’s around my age, has an information technology background, and like myself has found it hard to find a job. I can’t damn him for whatever he needs to do to get work. In his own words, ” it’s just awful out there”. Indeed it is!

Having said this, the notion of having to buy a job bothers me. I feel employment should be earned, not bought. In addition, the plan he has in place to pay the person who finds him the job has some risks. What happens if he quits the new job for perfectly legitimate reasons or is offered a new job he really likes? Does the job-finder still get his or her money? What happens if Geoff turns down one offer for another? Will he be sued for not providing payment for services rendered? I can see a few legal issues coming out of this sort of business arrangement, if one can even call it business.

Then again, maybe it is business. Perhaps this means, in the future, jobs will become a consumer product like a steak at the grocery store or the electronic gizmo at the big-name electronics store. I find that unsettling. In fact, I find all of this very frightening.

Is Geoff’s story the shape of things to come for the employment scene? Instead of having the qualifications to hold a job, does this mean you also need to be able to afford a job? Not everyone has 25 thousand dollars. I know I don’t. Does this mean those who can’t afford a job do not get to work and become homeless?

If a shortage of jobs is what is forcing some people to consider buying employment, we should address what is causing this shortage in the first place. As I wrote in the Comments section of this story at the Toronto Sun web site, “Government, business leaders, and social services need to work together to find solutions to this problem (of unemployment) so job seekers like Crane don’t have to resort to take drastic steps like this…”, otherwise we have a future of employment where the term “working class” will be synonymous with “rich”.

Thanks for reading!


A Question Of Leadership

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hoists the trophy after his Don Bosco Eagles defeated the Senator O’Connor Blues 26-14 in the city’s Catholic league senior football game at Esther Shiner Stadium. Source: CARLOS OSORIO/TORONTO STAR.
Congratulations. Now how about scoring a touch-down in getting Toronto back to work?

In a blog post I wrote a while back, I stated the issue of unemployment was not something one identifiable group was responsible for. Instead, I suggested it had to take the combined effort of government, business, and social services like employment assistance centers to work together in order to deal with unemployment.

This past month, however, has led me to think that government has lost the ability to do just that.

Starting at the local level of government, Toronto’s City Council is practically paralyzed as left- and right-leaning councillors spend time fighting amongst themselves. Instead of dealing with the issues of traffic gridlock, transit funding and expansion, and high commercial and industrial taxes that are driving business (and their jobs) out of Toronto, City Council is spending time over first creating and then later removing bike lanes, banning plastic bags, and considering hiring Wal-Mart style greeters in City Hall to tell visitors where to go for services. If it were up to me, I’d like to tell the councillors where to go….as in get back to work on making Toronto a world-class city again for businesses to come to. Leading this political asylum is a mayor, Rob Ford, who not only lacks the ability to work with others, he spends too much time coaching his football team and trying to keep himself out of court for the things he says. As of this post, he just finished his testimony in court for the libel claim held against him by restaurateur George Foulidis.

At the provincial level, the Ontario Legislature is closed through prorogation by Premier Dalton McGuinty, who has resigned suddenly without warning. What does this mean? It means no committees being held, no bills debated on and passed where necessary, and no budget until the new leader of the Liberal Party is chosen in a leadership vote in late January, 2013. Premier McGuinty claims the Legislature had to be prorogued because it was getting too hot for all parties to work together, but the Tories claim it was the past actions of the government finally catching up to them (such as the closing of plants that cost taxpayers millions and the out of control spending of services like E-health and the ORNGE ambulance service). It doesn’t matter. What we have now is Ontario with no political leadership for the next two months and possibly another provincial election no one wants to vote for, especially not by the unemployed who want their government working to help create an economic climate that produces jobs.

The federal Conservative Party under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to their credit, has done well keeping the business of government running, but I don’t see any government initiatives that will help reduce Canada’s unemployment rate, which is still stubbornly high at 7.4 percent. In addition, as reported in the Toronto Sun by Anthony Furey, a significant amount of foreign aid is being sent outside of Canada to countries who really shouldn’t get it. Now, please do not get me wrong: I do believe in sending money outside of Canada for places who deserve it but it should be up to the people to donate, not the government. I donated money to the Canadian Red Cross’ “Hurricane Sandy – USA” fund, for example, because it was needed and it was the right thing to do. The Canadian government, for whatever reason that escapes me, has sent Russia $120 million in 2009-2010 and China $32 million. Why do these two countries need foreign aid from Canada? Why was that money not put back into programs for young people and older workers in career transition to get them working again? It boggles the mind

With leadership like this, don’t expect the issue of unemployment to be dealt with any time soon!

Thanks for reading!


Imbalance For Some, Imbalance For All

Unbalanced Scales, released as public domain through Wikicommons

There’s an article in the Toronto Sun newspaper — about Canadians struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance — that I found interesting for two reasons.

The first had to do with the technology that was supposed to give more free time to workers in the first place, not rob them of it —- email, the cell phone, VPN remote access, and mobile computing. When I first started learning about computers as a teen, futurists predicted that the advancement of technology would enable workers to do more with less effort. This would allow people free time to pursue initiatives that would benefit society as a whole, such as raising a family, improve the human condition through continued learning, and contributing to community as a whole. Instead, employers have abused that very technology by not only piling more work on the back of workers, they also broke the traditional model of what a fair day of work was supposed to be. The delineation between professional and private life has been blurred to the point of one being indistinguishable from the other. It first started with the Japanese business model, with the European and North American corporate world following soon after at the start of the 1990s.

As the article mentioned, the end result is less personal time for employees, which in turn translates into high worker absenteeism and reduced productivity. Sounds to me like the opposite of what was suppose to happen, had technology been used properly in the first place.

It doesn’t stop there: because companies are asking a smaller number of employees to do more work in order to keep payroll costs to an absolute minimum, this in turn is causing increased hardship for those not working as well. Since hiring is stagnated and new jobs are not being produced, the unemployed — particularly young people struggling to break the “no work experience” Catch-22 — have to work harder to find a job, or accept jobs different from what they were trained to do and enjoyed doing in the past.

This is the current situation I am facing right now as someone who has been out of work for a long time, despite my best efforts to find work. The irony of having been a long-time part of the computer technology field — which was abused to create this imbalance for both employed and unemployed — is not lost on me.

Thanks for reading!