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The only bad job is no job


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In Canada, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had said "I was brought up in a certain way. There is no bad job, the only bad job is not having a job. I drove a taxi, I refereed hockey. You do what you have to do to make a living." This were his comments that he made to support the government's plan to toughen the rules on receipt of Employment Insurance (in most countries known as unemployment insurance). The comments were made to push at the point that people who receive unemployment insurance refuse to take jobs that are far away from them or that they consider them to be beneath them.

I agree with what he is saying. I was unemployed (well more correctly underemployed) for 2 years thanks in part to the Great Recession and in part to my own bad choices. I was in debt, basically living off my credit card, to make my ends meet I worked in ice cream store as cashier. I did not receive unemployement insurance because I did not apply and even if I would have applied I would not have qualified as my part time job (it is hard to get really full time positions in fast food places) income was above of what I would have received as payments from unemployment insurance.

The result was that I was not sitting on the neck of the government but was in some way contributing to the economy, the bad effect was that it looked really bad. Most Human Resources departments would not consider a person with university degree for any position if they see that this person is working in a fast food restaurants. They usually see this as evidence that person is lieing about their education as no self respecting university graduate would demean himself to such a position.

Now, I do not believe that such a job sould be seen as a dream job by university graduate or as something to be proud but I consider that to be better then just sitting at home.

I would like to know what are your thoughts on the idea "the only bad job is not having a job".

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The premise here seems to be that if you do not have a job, that is somehow your fault. In the vast majority of cases, this is simply not true. In fact, most countries officially define "being unemployed" as "not having a job but looking for one" - which means that all unemployed people are, by definition, people unable to find jobs. People who do not want jobs are not officially counted as part of the unemployed.

Take yourself for example. You were underemployed, you were looking for a full-time job, and you couldn't find one. Clearly, then, you were not at fault for your situation. So you should have been receiving government assistance. But you say that you would not have qualified for it. This shows that the current system of government assistance is bad - it is too strict, it fails to help people in situations similar to yours. So what needs to be done is the precise opposite of what the Finance Minister said. Getting unemployment insurance (or "employment insurance") has to be made easier, not harder.

By the way, I am skeptical of the idea that you were unemployed or underemployed "in part due to your own bad choices". People usually say that when they blame themselves for something that was not their fault. When you made those choices, did you know they were going to cause you to be underemployed? If not, then they were NOT "bad choices." It is not your responsibility to guess the future.

Unemployment (and underemployment, for that matter) exists because of capitalism. A relatively small number of people control the means of production. They - the bosses - have the power decide who gets to work and who does not. For a number of reasons, the number of people they decide to allow to work is always smaller than the number of people who want to work. So we have unemployment. And then, the capitalists have the nerve to accuse the unemployed of not trying hard enough to pull themselves out of the situation the capitalists caused!

We don't need to have unemployment. It is not a force of nature. It is the result of the particular way our society is organized. We could organize our society differently, and guarantee full employment.

So to answer your question: No, workers should not be expected to take bad jobs just to survive. They are not at fault here. The people who are at fault - the owners and managers of corporations - should be expected to provide better jobs, and more of them.

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Edric, I agree entirely with you. It stinks of hypocrisy for government officials to say something in the lines of "Can't find a position according to your profile and education? Well then go get some random job to do instead of whining." If people have to do that and are forced to work wherever they happen to get a job instead of doing what they're specialists or professionals in (or, as a variant, have to choose positions that are better paid over those that correspond to their education and interests), it means that something is very, very wrong with the society.

This gets even worse when young people do their future career choices not in accordance with their interests and abilities, but with the only consideration of getting a job that will supposedly pay well.

Unfortunately, by us, for example, it is nearly impossible to live off teaching at the university (or other higher education institutions), as the salaries even for full-time professors are scant, to say nothing of what those who have just taken up the job get. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, the situation with payments of higher education teachers has been in a steady decline, along with that of medical workers and many other socially important jobs. The drive to choose a career path that will bring steady income, on the other hand, has resulted in a large number of freshly trained lawyers and economists over the past decades.

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I can't answer yes or no on this one. A balance has to be found somewhere in the middle. A fresh graduate from university shouldn't have to take up unschooled work if he can't find a job relevanto his education in the first month after he gets his degree. If he's can't find any work in his field or on his level for an extended period of time however, he should look for interim employment that's below his level of education or maybe not entirely within his field.

PS: hi everybody!

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A fresh graduate from university shouldn't have to take up unschooled work if he can't find a job relevanto his education in the first month after he gets his degree. If he's can't find any work in his field or on his level for an extended period of time however, he should look for interim employment that's below his level of education or maybe not entirely within his field.

I'd say "has to", rather than "should", is more realistic here. Yet the social model Edric champions (and I support that too) should make sure everyone gets the appropriate job and appropriate payment for it.

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Unemployment (and underemployment, for that matter) exists because of capitalism. A relatively small number of people control the means of production. They - the bosses - have the power decide who gets to work and who does not. For a number of reasons, the number of people they decide to allow to work is always smaller than the number of people who want to work. So we have unemployment. And then, the capitalists have the nerve to accuse the unemployed of not trying hard enough to pull themselves out of the situation the capitalists caused!

We don't need to have unemployment. It is not a force of nature. It is the result of the particular way our society is organized. We could organize our society differently, and guarantee full employment.

Let's take several scenarios about how unemployment can arise. Let's use induvidual perspective:

1. Person leaves job willingly to look for a new one. I know that to some this will sound strange but in Canada here it was common thing to do. I would never attempt such a thing, I would look for new position while still working.

2. Person gets fired over bad actions at his job.

3. Person gets laid off

3.1 Lay off due to technology

3.2 Lay off due to outsourcing

Situation 1: is normal and often seen as natural unemployment because it is unemployment that happens because induvidual is moving from one job to another for what ever reason. Some also would leave work to get more education or they want to retire early (not very likely with many theses days). The last two cases do not count towards the unemployment rate because they leave the labor force. Here in Canada the unemployment caused by willing transition of people from one job to another was always seen to be around 4% to 5%

Situation 2: the unemployment due to firing, happens because of the employees actions: example I have heard (theft, watching porn on company's computers, sexual advances on the coworkers that the coworker doesn't appreciate - touching, jokes, etc.)

Situation 3: Well lay offs happen due to changed technology and due to outsourcing:

3.1: The change of technology"

3.1.1: Change of consumer needs, preference and tastes

People change their tastes, or their needs and preferences change. We migrated in music from cassettes to cds to portabel devices with harddrives and from VHS tapes to dvds and not blueray is comming in. The result is that people who manufactures cassettes and VHS tapes are not needed. Radical case is Kodak which went bankrupt because nobody needed their film as people migrated to digital cameras. Change in preferences occur when people go from one product to another. Kids playing Playstation 2 instead of sega's Dreamcast is one of them, or the move in Japan from console gaming to mobile device gaming. Finally the change of needs examples are no longer need of horse and carriage but a need of the car to get around. Another example that is occuring in Canada is lack of need of newspapers for news and move towards the Internet as the platform for latest news. As these things happen people get laid off as their skill set is no longer needed, it should not be expected of the companies to retain them. We would not expect the family to retain services of babysitter after their kid grew up.

3.1.2 Internal change of technology within the company

This occurs as the company changes their technology internally. Examples could be major financial institutions that automated the arbitrage trading through use of computers and no longer need all those arbitrage traders. It could be the automation of transaction processing by a telecom company and it therefore no longer needs all those data entry clerks anymore as the transactions flow from the point of sale automatically in the system. Finally there is automation that speeds up the processes so that only 1 person requred to do what 4 needed before for example. It happens all the time in my company, I actually constantly automate some processes myself.

Situation 3.2 Outsourcing

When talking of outsourcing I am not only talking of the outsourcing to China or India that happens but even outsourcing within the country. Example is this a firm that manages investment funds could outsource its accounting for investment funds to a different company. The will continue to pick the investments but the actual accounting would be done by a different company because that company has all the trained staff and advanced software to do that. The lay off of accountants that handled this job at investment fund management firm occurs. This happens a lot, Pepsi and Coca-Cola do not bottle their drinks themselves, they outsource it to another companies. Restaurants will outsource the automated surveys about their service to a company that specialises in survey design and analysis. Computer gaming companies will outsource programming to another countries, Russia has become a popular destination for some of the major game developement due to technological skills in that country. North American companies outsource their call centres to India because it is just cheaper there. FED2k outsources its forum software developement to IP.Board.

So layoffs will continue to create unemployment as technology advances or a better specialised companies arise that can perform the same services but better and cheaper.

I guess there is a 4th cause of unemployment too. People who obtain skills that are not marketable or needed.

I graduated with degree called Bachelor in Arts (here in Canada Arts encompass fields as wide as economics to actual drawing and painting, there is also degree called Bachelor of Science that ecomposses from theoretical sciences to actual engineering, some universities actually have Bachelor of Engineering, finally there is also Bachelor of Commerce, business related fields from finance to marketing to humar resources to accounting). Each of these degrees comes with after tag of what the person specialised in (ex. Computer Engineering, Mechanical Enginnering, Applied Physics, Economics and Finance). As I was graduating with the Bachelor in Arts in Economics and Finance there were other graduating with Bachelor in Arts general studies. Bachelor in Arts general studies means these people failed to find what to specialise in but finally collected enough courses to actually graduate. They were the biggest group at my graudation ceremony. Here is the problem, who is going to hire them. they have no specific skills after completing their univeristy education.This is what I call a bad choice and they are going to find it hard to find jobs because what jobs can they do?

The same situation occurs with people who get education that is in low demand. How many graduates needed with specialisation in philosophy. Not that many so a person with degree specialised in philosophy is not going to find it easy finding work because maybe he likes philosophy but overall the demand for those skills comes mostly from schools and universities, and not that many philosophy teachers are needed for each school or each univerisity. So in the end, in a city with 3 universities with 450 schools (City of Toronto, Canada) and from each univesity 50 people with degrees in philosophy graduate, it would require only 3 years to supply 1 philosophy teacher per school. After the 3 years new teachers are not going to be needed untill current ones retire or decide to leave their jobs. So 150 people in the year 4 would find no demand for their skills as the schools are fully stuffed with philosophy teachers.

Now with regards to my "bad choices"

By the way, I am skeptical of the idea that you were unemployed or underemployed "in part due to your own bad choices". People usually say that when they blame themselves for something that was not their fault. When you made those choices, did you know they were going to cause you to be underemployed? If not, then they were NOT "bad choices." It is not your responsibility to guess the future.

I find that often people do not blame themselves but blame others. I do not blame myself for things that only after looking back I could see that they were bad choices. Examples could be such things as not staying 5 minutes longer somewhere and missing meeting a person who could have helped me out with something.

I am calling bad choices things that I could have done differently if I would have spent more time thinking them through or researching them.

Two examples would be my education:

When I was graduating from high school I was choosing which university to go to. I got accepted to University of Toronto and Ryerson University. University of Toronto is presitgious university and it accpeted me to the program that I would have graduated from with Bachelor of Commerce in Economics. Ryerson Univerisity is just normal univeristy and me to the program that I eventually graduated from with Bachelor of Arts in International Economics. I chose Ryerson University because I liked the whole premise of International Economics rather then just Economics. If however, I would have reserached the two programs I would have found them to be not so different from each other at all. The information on programs and what courses they included was freely available on the Internet. My bad choice was choosing less prestigious university which made much harder to find a job.

My second bad choice was choice of specialisation in Economics. Government of Canada runs several website, one of them called Job Futures, that provides freely available information about future demand for certain skills and professionals. There are also job search engines such as JobBank, Workopolis and Monster that could be used to see if certain skills are in demand. The research through those ones would have told me that when it comes to positions in business and finance the most demanded are people with degrees specialised in accounting, and that people with specialisation in economics are not highly demanded and mostly jobs for them require to have PhD in Economics or at least a Masters degree in Economics (more advanced degrees).

There are other bad choices but lets leave it at two

On the side note out of our graudating class of 22 people only one person is working in the job that requires economics education. I am currently working in accounting.

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The premise here seems to be that if you do not have a job, that is somehow your fault. In the vast majority of cases, this is simply not true. In fact, most countries officially define "being unemployed" as "not having a job but looking for one" - which means that all unemployed people are, by definition, people unable to find jobs. People who do not want jobs are not officially counted as part of the unemployed.

You need to lose your job (official job, not black job) to be on the list of people that look for job. That is the reason because in Italy they didn't notice people unable to find jobs from university but they notice tons of people unable to find the job because their factory closed and no one want them because they are "too old".

And of course government says "We need a way to make old people more appetible to work market....yeah, we will give money to corporations if they hire old people!". So we will find tons of fake corporations that will hire old people for doing nothing (we had many that hire seriously handicapped people for the same reason) because they get government funds. Old people HAVE to be more appetible than young people....problem is that young people isn't appetible at all because the corporations spend three times their pay: one is the real pay, another third is the retirement money and last third is a special tax. And of course isn't the only tax: then there is the tax about sales and the tax of the total income (but income isn't gaining because doesn't count expenses).

About government jobs...well there are less expenses for government but more burocracy. In 2010 after master academy I could only replace people in History and Philosophy in liceo only (don't know exact word in English...is a school from 14 to 19 years that does only humanistics subjects, so not technical institutes). So I had to do more exams and wait the special school for becoming a teacher...the special school is ready just in 2012...but when it was ready I discovered they changed the codes of the exams required....so I can't even replace people in History and Philosophy and funny thing is that I have to pass the exact exams I passed: the code changed but the subject is always the same.

And wtf the requirement for teaching latin and for teaching italian is the same!

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  • 1 month later...

About the minister's statement, yes, in case you're at an all-time low you should take whatever job you can find. But that is an emergency situation and it might not always be possible. Companies don't hire overqualified workers. Period.

And spending too much time in jobs that have nothing to do with your training is a perfect waste of your time for that training. Why go to collage and spend money and time on it if you're supposed to sell fries at McDonald's?

The statement is half-right, half-wrong because it's a good thing to take up whatever job you can find and support yourself while looking for a better job AND not put pressure on the public finances BUT doing that for a long time is bad for you own trade because you're slowly forgetting you experience.

Remember the world is in financial crysis and jobs are few, any job, so don't jump to judge people who apply for unemployment help because some really can't find anything.

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