Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Cui bono?

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  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Danielle,

    The twenty job applications a week rule is blowing my mind. What a waste of time and energy for everyone. When I was looking for work for two months late last year I think I may have applied for... ten to fifteen jobs, total? There's absolutely no point in applying for things for which you are woefully under- or over-qualified. That's pure ideological hoop-jumping.

    Which is why I'm very strongly in favour of trade-style training for industries like ICT that traditionally haven't had it. Having had repeated zero ROI's on student loans in the past, and being hard-wired to be too inattentive for self-teaching, I've come to the realisation that for people like me the immersiveness of an on-the-job trade apprenticeship approach to training would be best. The catch is that in NZ's relatively deregulated labour market, apprenticeship-style training is seen as an expense instead of an investment. As it stands, my supported employment agent is doing his best to sell me on my behalf.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    The thing about bureaucracies is that they don't have to be out to deliberately punish or humiliate anyone in order to actually do so - they just need to be indifferent to how much discomfort they cause. All you need to do is not employ someone whose job it is to look at things from a customer's point of view and fix the problems that inevitably get caused by administrators administering things in the way that seems most efficient to them. If annoying customers isn't going to screw up your bottom lines (and indeed, if your business model is based on losing customers), then why do it?

    Some of the problems I read about social welfare are endemic to large complex organisations - I've had similarly frustrating interactions with councils or hospitals or HR departments - but of course it's worse when you're wondering how to pay the rent and feed the kids. And there is a philosophy from the top down that mitigates against fixing the customer experience, that is actively trying to drive people off. By way of example, I walked past a WINZ office the other day and saw a security officer posted outside, with customers having to talk to him before they could enter. I get why they might do that, after the tragedy in Ashburton, but banks and dairies have had experience with armed robberies before, and you can still walk into them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Cold calling a number of employers every week is another requirement. And proving that you have called them. I'm sure HR people around NZ (or as they are now called 'Talent') have some gripes about that.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3189 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I hope all those people who think that begging is a life style choice will read this post.

    They should have to offer to accompany one of those 'opportunistic beggars'* to Work and Income and navigate the appointment process, the 45 page application form with its requirements for numerous forms of ID and proof of an address and bank account, and try and work out how to coordinate a paid up cellphone and workable computer to sign up for Real Me which is how you are expected to interact with government agencies these days. And not trip on any of the numerous barriers which will see your benefit cut, or a new stand down period. Too bad if you have poor literacy, or any kind of impairment whereby reading, talking, walking or seeing is problematic. And all for an income with allows you to survive but not thrive.

    On a more positive note it is good that 65-year olds now have to be exposed to that same dehumanising system to get their National Super. Although I note that some offices have separate waiting rooms and even entrances so they don't have to mix with the hoi polloi.

    *An early entry for the word of the year.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3189 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    And those individual employment agents have far too many people on their books to really be able to do much. You’d almost think the overall priority wasn’t really to get everyone a job,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You’d almost think the overall priority wasn’t really to get everyone a job.

    The constant pool of unemployed keeps wages low, hooray!

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Marion Ogier,

    This is all crazy. I have a family member on a sickness benefit and she seems to cope with it all at present but we always worry about what might happen if some crazy new rule came in. On the other hand the whole bureaucratic mess is represented by the fact that when my husband and I applied for superannuation there was a a "super" nice treatment. And a daughter is currently in the crazy situation of trying to communicate that she has got herself a job after a short time on a benefit and can she now pay back the overpayments. They don't seem to make that easy and she is stressing out.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2010 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Cold calling a number of employers every week is another requirement. And proving that you have called them. I'm sure HR people around NZ (or as they are now called 'Talent') have some gripes about that.

    For people with ASD and SAD, it's like being made to climb a greasy pole while carrying lead weights. Which is why I rely on supported employment agencies to do the door-knocking.

    And I'm not the only one to be reminded of Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent" remark, when our Finance Minister thought out loud of "pretty damned hopeless" jobseekers to a FedFarm conference. How then do they hope to fix 'unemployability' then? With nerve gas?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Excellent post.

    It's the system itself.

    Its predicated on thinking the worst of other people, and having an angelic view of ones self. Ego protection on a grand scale, it sucks!

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1874 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to andin,

    Its predicated on thinking the worst of other people, and having an angelic view of ones self. Ego protection on a grand scale, it sucks!

    If the same logic was applied by the IRD to tax haven funds, you can be sure the usual suspects will shout "STALINISM!" in unison.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I totally agree that all of these things could be done instead of a UBI, and would have a massive impact on the suffering associated with poverty. I also think they could and should be done as well as a UBI, if the UBI starts a level that is below the basic unemployment benefit. Then you’d get reduction in the suffering resulting from bureaucracy.

    I’d also add a big one that is missing from your list. Students should receive an income, as matter of course.

    None of these things addresses one of the most major reasons for the UBI, though, the EMTR. When the justification for you getting a benefit is that you have no work income, then getting work by definition means losing that benefit. It’s hard to imagine any way to slice this so that it doesn’t massively disincentivize small amounts of work (or low paid work) and/or encourage dishonesty about paid work*. There’s really no way around this, so long as we have an unemployment benefit at all. But if the unemployment benefit were only quite a small top up of a UBI, then losing it to get work would not be anywhere near as disincentizing. Indeed, going through the fuck-around of getting it in the first place would probably hardly seem worthwhile to a lot of people. That’s already the case for a much more substantial benefit. But even if it didn’t, the justification for all the punishment to save the country money from dole bludgers would fall into the laughable category, if the money itself were also only a very small amount, but the costs of enforcement unchanged. Suddenly it would seem like WINZ itself was the bludger.

    *One of these dishonesties might be being unable to work due to a sickness/disability, too. So this would reach beyond the unemployment benefit into the medically oriented benefits. I think there should still be such benefits, because of course there are sicknesses/disabilities. But there are also sick and disabled people who want to work, but just can’t manage a big work load, and/or many kinds of work. If the EMTR for them was also very much diminished, then it’s not hard to imagine a great many sick/disabled people doing work in such a way as they are capable and getting all the flow on benefits of employment, like self-respect, human contact, training, opportunity, work resources, contacts, referrals, etc. If they want it. Currently, they’re disincentivized from even wanting that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Thanks Emma. Still gets me angry - because shame and humiliation and endless pointless cruel hoop-jumping are just what you need when you've lost a job or have a chronic illness.
    We used to get regularly asked for medical corroboration our boy still had Down Syndrome. It was funny but also a bit ... depressing.
    Now we're facing the costs and hurdles getting an enduring power of attorney (he is also ASD). Two lawyers and a court hearing, I believe ...

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2089 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    When I applied for NZ Super last year, I didn't find it a dehumanising experience. The online form, and Real Me were straightforward enough. There was a separate waiting area, and the person we spoke to took us through the extra benefits we could claim - rent, and medical payments.

    I was aware of the difference of my treatment, from what others have reported.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Deep Blue, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Ask about a referral to 'Workbridge'.
    Great organisation, and a 'contracted service' to W&I.

    Te Awamutu • Since Sep 2014 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to John Farrell,

    the difference of my treatment

    because super is regarded as something you are entitled to, rather than begrudgingly 'doled' out with suspicion and resentment. At least it provides a good example of how it can be done properly.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sacha,

    because super is regarded as something you are entitled to, rather than begrudgingly 'doled' out with suspicion and resentment. At least it provides a good example of how it can be done properly.

    Over the over 65 rainbow. Somehow I doubt that the flower lady will ever grasp the distinction berween charm and smarm.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Spencer,

    About 14 years ago I used to teach literacy in a jail. Lots of need for this, as a huge chunk of the Australian prison population has poor or low literacy. Very very hard for people with low literacy to stay Centrelink (name of the government agency handing out the dole here) compliant, as most communications about payments and impending penalties are written - then it was letters, it's probably email now. So the young men I used to teach would do break and enters as it was easier. Hard to find work with low literacy. Back then each inmate cost the government $70,000 p.a. to keep in jail - it's probably more now.

    Sydney • Since Feb 2014 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Jackie Spencer,

    I was talking to someone about this earlier this week. Son had dyslexia and other conditions. Eventually managed to work with his strengths and now works for Corrections. Because he knows about learning difficulties through his own lived experience has realised how widespread they are among the prison population. But access to any literacy or other programmes is only as a reward for good behaviour so any meltdowns etc means you don't get access to the one thing that can help you.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3189 posts Report Reply

  • Murray Hewitt,

    The refusal to tell you what you are fully entitled to is Machiavellian

    I was "on ACC" for 15+ years (late 80's - early 00's) after an accident. During that time I experienced the ACC attitude (policy) change from assisting the claimant to receive everything to which they were entitled, to withholding crucial information, obstructing the claimant and threatening cut-off of entitlement if ever-closing hoops were not jumped through. Sounds like W&I underwent the same transition.

    Wainui • Since Jan 2008 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    the flower lady

    ew. make it stop.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Murray Hewitt,

    Sounds like W&I underwent the same transition

    Culture pushed from Minister down, just like always. Public service managers know their 'customer' is the Minister of the day, and they make sure their minions all look in that direction rather than the people who really need their help and expertise. Bunghole rules.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Attachment

    This is from 2009, but I expect the proportions are still roughly similar. You can see that the proportion of actual unemployed is vanishingly small in relation to the total welfare budget.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Without wanting to derail the thread, I think making public transport free for everyone would have enormous beneficial effects in the community. All the fuss and expense with cards and tickets, why do we have it?

    When I catch the bus at off-peak times I look around at all the smiling old folks with their GoldCards and wonder if I'm the only paying passenger.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Deep Blue,

    Ask about a referral to 'Workbridge'.
    Great organisation, and a 'contracted service' to W&I.

    Sadly I can't say the same for Workbridge, at least as far as the Wellington branch is concerned. They've had too much turnover of consultants to be of much use. I'm currently with an alternative supported employment agency, and my consultant is at least trying his best to sell me on my behalf in a job market that's inherently discriminatory towards the clinically asocial.

    With each passing day the Amazon.coms of this world are slowly turning jobs like mine into dead-end jobs, and I'm desperate for a meaningful career change before my job becomes a museum piece. Each time I've taken out a student loan, the ROI has been a big fat round figure and I may not be far off my lifetime EFTS limit. Self-teaching doesn't suit my hard-wired visual thinker sensibility, but an immersive training approach will - in other words, an on-the-job/vocational apprenticeship approach. The catch is, in this wild-West labour market they're perceived as expenses rather than investments.

    I'm pissed off that the Tertiary Education Minister refuses to see the benefits of an apprenticeship scheme for the ICT sector, and the ICT Grad School we got instead is useless for non-grads like me. And yet I refuse to accept that the ICT sector is a graduates-only club.

    I had a mentorship via the IITP not too long ago, and a princely sum later, there was little to show for it. My mentor does sympathise with my frustrations though:

    "I was chatting to our recruitment manager last week, after seeing Xero had launched their grad programme and saying to him I though the next big opportunity is the retraining direction, which he's onboard with and really keen to grow our fresh start program, and given the registrations of interest seems there certainly is the market demand.

    We also talked about working with the public sector to formalise channels into retraining. He explained to me his frustration of dealing with Work & Income and the litany of unreturned calls and unanswered emails to senior management there, I shared the frustrations experienced by someone dealing with the frontline of those services, without mentioning your name, but telling him about the constant churn of case officers at Workbridge, and Workbridge not knowing about the employment initiatives at MSD.

    Vast opportunity for improvement of the delivery of services in the public sector in training and employment by the looks of it.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Lilith __,

    Yes the times I come across young people without the bus or train fare to get to that essential training course or appointment. Transport costs can take a major part of the benefit. Some groups of people can apply to the Wellington City Council to get a discounted Snapper card but few people know about that or how to do it.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3189 posts Report Reply

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