Sunday, September 11, 2011

Eleven Nine

I was in the office on 11th September 2001. There were a lot of serious faces about. The management had the radio on all afternoon. But we were safe in our building. We each had a job for life.

Now the management have gone, plenty of others, too, me included. Jobs for life don't exist in an increasingly technological world in which jobs are being replaced by computers every day. Where there were six people in my old department when I started in 1986, now there is one. I was in charge of coping with the reduction from six to two over the years, never thinking my reward would be the two becoming one.

And more people have joined the jobs market. Labour force growth, which had been moderate in that supposedly golden age from post-war to the mid-sixties, stagnated until the mid-seventies, then rocketed. The baby boomers wanted jobs, yes, even the women.

Then there weren't enough jobs to go around. There haven't been since. There won't be in the future. And since the number of people in the UK in work peaked in 2008 and has fallen sharply since, employers now have a flood of experienced, trained and suitable applicants for each job. Getting an interview is down to sheer luck. Getting the job is down to chemistry. Any one of hundreds of applicants could do the job well, but only one is apparently the right personality fit.

I wonder how many of the two hundred applicants for the poorly paid part-time job I applied for are unemployed? How many are desperate for a job? How many will never get another job, if they've ever had one in the first place? How many have the right personality if they ever get to the interview stage? How many don't need the job but need the social side of working? How many are in a job they hate and need a change? How many need two jobs to survive?

Where do I stand? I'm lucky, I don't need a job to survive. I was lucky enough to have been able to afford to save well over the past several years. If I want holidays, yes, I'd need to work. But what percentage of even the world's working population can afford to go on holiday?


  1. I am glad you don't have to get a job to survive, Geoff. That's something. (Trying not to think about this too much because I'm planning to leave my job, and it is probably reckless in the current climate. But then you only get one life...)

  2. When we used to moan at work my boss used to say that those were the best years of our lives. They were the best years of my WORKING life but the 22 years I enjoyed there (enjoyed because of the people) will hopefully be less than a quarter of my life. I would be up for working full time again if only I could think of something I'd enjoy doing. As it stands I could only just about handle part time work in the field I am used to. I've had enough.

  3. My last two holidays were affordable because I was invited to stay with friends and didn't have to fork out money for hotels.

  4. I'd rather stay at home than stay with our friends!

  5. Ha! But what I didn't mention was that I was house-sitting for them...

    So they weren't there!