Your brighter future, New Zealand:
A Wellington employment training centre has had its Government contract abruptly pulled because it did not focus on placing people in the hospitality, aged care and call centre sectors.
The closure of the Bowerman School is a real puzzle. It helped many people not just find any jobs, but good jobs – relevant jobs, fulfilling jobs, jobs which could lead to a career they enjoyed.
Bowerman said her students had ranged from people who had never worked, to architects and two doctors who came through the course last year.
The difference between her course and others in the region was that Bowerman would do “whatever they actually needed”, in terms of jobseeking support.
“Whether that was getting them first aid certificates, or haircuts or clothing. Just whatever was required.”
Bowerman said most of their students were also in the older age bracket.
“First, it’s so bloody hard, especially if you’re over 50 these days, to get a job. But they’re unable to go into hospo, they’re not going to go into call centres, and aged care facilities actually want trained nurses now.”
It also makes no sense in light of the rave reviews it was getting from the agency which funded it:
So what’s going on? Why the narrow focus on “hospitality, aged care and call centres”? It makes no sense!
Actually, it makes all kinds of sense. Because this government has shown, time and time again, that it doesn’t care about good jobs or careers or skills, only forcing people off benefits so the current Minister of Social Development can crow success.
This government shut down night classes, sneering about Moroccan cooking. They sneered at the Training Incentive Allowance, which gave single parents (like my mum) the ability to get a degree. They sneered at anyone over 40 who needed support to retrain or upskill through tertiary education.
So of course you can’t have a jobs centre which supports people to flourish as talented innovative creators. That would ruin everything.
This can sound as conspiratorial as you like, but the logic is pretty simple: an uneducated, desperate minimum-wage workforce is easier to exploit. People who don’t have a lot of qualifications have more difficulty changing jobs. People who are paid at near-minimum wage after 20 years on the job don’t have the luxury of sitting back and pondering the big questions of democratic governance. And people whose only other option is being bullied and micro-managed for a pittance by WINZ aren’t going to complain too much when their breaks get taken off them or their holiday pay is short.
And it’s far easier for the kinds of people who give the National Party lots of money to leech short-term profits off a service-based economy. Why build anything real when you can just put 19-year-olds through a meatgrinder of youth rates and rolling 90-day trials?
The thing is, everyone does better when wages are good, when broad-based education is available to everyone, and when skilled jobs and a solid manufacturing base are what generates the economy – not a bunch of wealthy people flipping each other properties while the rest of us make their coffee and drive their Ubers.
But building the foundations for that kind of economy takes time, and resources, and a view more long-term than next quarter’s balance sheet.
It requires the ability to understand why the state exists in the first place, and knowing that the most important thing in the world is people, not profit.
When you don’t believe that, well. Shutting down a successful jobs centre is just the logical thing to do.