James Wickham: One of the predictable consequences of high unemployment is the growth of hucksterism. As unemployment rises, so too do the voices that claim that you can get a job if you only try. ‘On your bike’ as Britain’s Lord Tebbit famously said. The unemployed are enjoined to become entrepreneurial, to invent new products, to sell new services, to sell themselves. The solution is to write a better CV, to hassle, to get motivated. Read for example the story “Jobseekers’ bootcamp all about the right attitude” in the Irish Times 17 August 2010.
Of course the reality is that what works for individuals doesn’t work for society as a whole. Improving CV writing just re-shuffles the job queues; it doesn’t create jobs. Dare we mention the word ideology? Don’t events like this ‘bootcamp’ reduce the pressure for realistic job creation policies? And what about realistic social policies to help people deal with life without paid work?
James Wickham was Jean Monnet Professor of European Labour Market Studies and Professor in Sociology at Trinity College Dublin. He has published widely on employment, transport and migration in Ireland and Europe; he is the author of Gridlock: Dublin’s Transport Crisis and the Future of the City and co-author of New Mobilities in Europe: Polish Migration to Ireland post-2004. His book Unequal Europe: Social divisions and social cohesion in an old continent analysed the collapse of the European Social Model; his new text book European Societies (Routledge 2020) examines the structures of inequality in contemporary Europe. He is a former director of TASC.