Tuesday 21 February 2012

Work Placements and Pitchforks

So we've all seen the Tesco "job vacancy" and been suitably appalled by the barefaced cheek of such a huge multi-national and not-so-loved company, rubbing it into the faces of the unemployed and those on benefits.  Like mostly everyone, I was please to see that Tesco had ceased with JSA work placements. They are a big company; as of last August, they had pre-tax profits of £1.9bn so they can afford to pay their staff.  I know someone who's been working for the last three weeks on a WP with Tesco and she's not receiving the experience she's been promised.  She's being made to fill a position which Tesco should be paying an employee to do.  This is not the thinking the government had behind the work placement idea.

Yet in the last few days, more and more companies have pulled out of the work placement scheme.  Oxfam was one of these said companies.  Are we equating Tesco with Oxfam? Is it really the same thing? As experienced social media users, we know our own strength. We know what we share, what we tweet can change opinions.  Though sometimes, we spend so much time being horrified, we fail to see the big picture.  I feel that, in our efforts to be amoral, we've thrown the baby out with the bathwater.  In my opinion, the work placements idea was a good one.  Obviously, like with most plans, it doesn't suit everyone.  It won't work for everyone and it's not ideal.  However, it can give much needed experience to people who need it and may culminate in a paid position.  As of April 2011, unemployment in 16 to 17yr olds was at 218,000.  This means that most of these teens have never worked and will find it difficult to find a job without experience.  In the last few years, the recession has caused many jobs losses and forced people to reconsider their career choices.  Work placements can give them a change to try something new, to see it if suits them.  It hasn't been much publicised, but job seekers can seek their own work placements, in fields that interest them and they will be considered.

So as our influence as social media increases, let's choose our battles wisely.  Remember, with great power, comes great responsibility.

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