It seems that our clever London government has found a way to improve the youth unemployment figures.
That nice Mr Grayling came up with this little wrinkle last year, without giving it much publicity. Why so little fuss around a clever government initiative to get people back to work, you might ask.
Well the answer is that this is actually a way of getting people to work for virtually nothing*. As the Jobcentre advertisement shows this permanent job on night shift is paid at JSA plus expenses.
And this work without pay is compulsory. If you are sent for an interview, and the company is prepared to accept you, you must work for Tesco (or any of the other companies participating in this project**) for your Job Seekers' Allowance, plus expenses, alongside other members of staff, who are being paid. If you refuse to do that, you lose your benefits for 13 weeks.
Now I, of all people, am keen to get people into work, and I'm not averse to people gaining experience and gathering new skills. Volunteering, or taking some sort of low paid job with training in new skills is a good way of beefing out a cv and making yourself more appealing to an employer.
But if Tesco has vacancies for night shift workers, or any other vacancies, why do they not advertise them normally, and pay people at the normal rate to do them?
Because, you might reply, this is aimed at people who have no experience in work and need to be given that experience before they deserve to be paid?
No. I don't think so. Many of the night shift jobs involve filling shelves. Just how much work experience do you need to do that? And once you have gained some experience in the shopyou can easily be moved onto a customer facing job.
Sixteen years ago, when I was starting out working with unemployed people, politicians were arguing about the evils of a minimum wage and how it would ruin business in the UK, and a more experienced colleague foresaw that the one day a government would come up with a system of forcing the unemployed into working for nothing as a way of ridding themselves of this embarrassment.
Trust this government to be the one.
* JSA is not 'nothing'. In fact it is around £67 a week. I don't know exactly what night shift workers at Tesco are paid, but it is over the minimum wage, plus a premium (1.5x) after 10pm. I image that if this job is filled by someone over 21 (there is a limitation of night shift work under 18), they could only work around 7 hours before they were operating at a loss.
** Companies participating in this free labour scheme include:
Tesco, Sainsbury's, Argos, Asda, Maplin, TK Maxx,
Matalan, Primark, Holland & Barrett, Boots, McDonald's, Burger
King, Poundland and the Arcadia group which includes Miss
Sellfridge, Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins. BHS, Evans, Topman,
Wallis and Outfit ...now there's a surprise!!!