It would be nice to think that we could all get the perfect job. The reality is that many people have to go into low-paid, insecure jobs with little job satisfaction.
To some extent this is inevitable: after all, every society depends on people doing jobs which could be considered ‘menial’ by some. But there is little to say that we have got the balance right in this country.
For example, we have far too few people employed in skilled professions. Lots of graduates leave university and end up working in completely unrelated jobs for which they are over-qualified. Or they have to take new courses to get the skills necessary for employment. This must be demoralising and is, of course, a great waste of talent and resources.
The New Party is committed to encouraging highly paid, highly skilled jobs. It is not enough to call for an adjustment of taxes to benefit the poor. ‘Progressive taxation’, which means getting the well-off to pay more tax to relieve the burden on the lower paid, can only go so far. It does not tackle the underlying reasons why some are so poorly paid and, in any case, such measures are usually short-lived and ultimately self-defeating. Instead, we need to confront the real reasons why we have such poor productivity in our economy and such a reliance on ephemeral service sector jobs.
The reasons are many, but we can cite the following as examples: the emphasis in our economy on consumer spending and credit, rather than saving and investment; the relatively large public sector, now converging with the sclerotic economies of continental Europe; and an education system which has never properly equipped students with the skills that they need. These factors all present long-term challenges that our politicians always shy away from. After all, it is easier to give someone a tax credit in their pocket than to change the reasons why they need a tax credit.
Until we are prepared to face up to the fundamental truths about our economy and society, we will continue to depend on low productivity jobs, with all that implies for our future prosperity.
If we try to compete in the down-market low wage sectors, there are plenty of businesses in countries such as India and China who are willing to take us on. Lots of service sector jobs, such as those in call centres, are already being exported to India. Rather than complain that India is taking ‘our’ jobs, we need to be building a strong economy for the future so that we will not be reliant on such jobs.
The New Party has put forward some concrete proposals, but above all it needs the vision and commitment to change the way we do things in this country. If we want good jobs for the future, we should be acting now.
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