Once again, the country is ringing to the sound of people either lamenting the jobless figures or asking how we can get more people back into employment. There is a stunningly simple response to both these cries – forget it!
The kinds of people who used to be out of work were those who were not well-qualified enough or too well-qualified for the jobs on the market, those who for one reason or another did not want to work, those of working age but to ill or incapacitated to have a job and those who had recently left employment and had not yet started another job. There was always a rolling figure of unemployed and every successive government has had the cries of the jobless resounding in their ears. They have also all tried their best to ‘solve’ the unemployment problem. There are reasons why this will never happen. This is a problem that cannot be solved.
According to the government statistics site, ‘The resident population of the UK was 60,975,000 in mid-2007’. That figure is unlikely to have changed significantly in two years. A recent projection is that ‘the population of the UK is set to increase by 4.4 million to 65 million by 2016′. Many of these ‘extra’ people since 1998 have been immigrants, although it has to be said that a large number were legitimate and contribute considerably to life in this country. There have always been immigrants in the UK and they have usually enhanced society. The population as a whole is living longer. The number of under-16s has declined, whereas the number of people reaching pensionable age has increased. This means that many are leaving the workforce but fewer are entering it. This is a good thing, really, because there is another factor at work.
With the increase of technology that can ‘do the work of several men’, those several men (or women) are no longer needed. As computers become more and more sophisticated, you don’t even have to be in the workplace to carry out your job. In theory, we should be grateful and enjoy the extra leisure time, but as a species we are now programmed to feel bad if we don’t have a job. We are even penalised if we have been out of work for half a year and happen to have a working partner. Live off their earnings, we are told. Let them try it!
Governments – of whichever persuasion – need to begin to cater for a population that will not be at work all the time, if at all. The times they are a-changing and the once ill-advised words of Norman Tebbit misquoted in the title of this rant have no meaning. Even if you have a bike and are prepared to ride it around our polluted cities, there’s nowhere to go.