Thursday, 27 November 2008

World of Appearances

Coming second in a job interview is as good as never being interviewed in the first place in terms of the result. Too often recently I've been told I came second. This time it mattered more because the job was around study skills, and at HE, and I have a genuine interest in this, not least in the bizarre situation that A level rates are near 100% passing whilst many students lack adequate literacy and study skills to do the A levels, never mind become undergraduates. There is a gigantic con going on regarding A levels and the rest, where students do so much in quantity of work, but are basically processed through and have not learnt how to think about what they think.

I am also deeply suspicious regarding interviewing these days. Again too often I've identified a preferred candidate through observing the revealed connections and the way candidates address interviewers. This time candidates did not see each other - I only saw one waiting - but to be told that it's a luxury to find two good candidates and that this delayed the decision is annoying. I realised when the decision did not come at the time given that the most I could have done was upset a situation: the rule is if they don't get back to you quickly and on time you haven't got the job.

Over and again we live in this crippling world of appearances, where rules exist to give a level playing field but something else goes on underneath. We have, now, these so called "equal opportunities interviews", and of course all the paperwork must be filled in. But the requirement is to have these so called open interviews when really the institution wants the person in situ who may be undergoing a form of promotion or some sideways move, or maybe there is someone in another institution coming over. It's one reason why vacancies appear. Everyone else called to interview is playing to the pre-exisiting dance, but they get told (not in this case, however) that it's an equal opportunities interview as if that means you have an equal opportunity, and you don't.

I hate this world of appearances. I see it all around me and the games people play. The justification for joining in is that people do what their employers want and they are therefore paid to play the game. In the end, though, it involves a lack of integrity and in economic terms a drop in productivity.

It's visible too in this world of religion. I saw the creeds by the back door by which too many Unitarian committees operated whilst claiming freedom of belief and no belief test for the pulpit. I see it now via these Church of England promises. If you can meet the promises and don't upset the applecart too much then you can come on board - and everyone knows the issues are more complex. It just leads to distortion after distortion. I do know how to meet those promises, but as the boundaries come in the issue has been whether to play around with them.

Incidentally, looking for work these days is also a world of appearances. From the monitored staff computer use of Jobcentre Plus - why they will offer the most ridiculous of vacancies so that they have done it - through to the minimum quantity of contacted "leads" required per week (and the appearance of such), it all builds up to where the government in parliament can claim that there is dedicated high quality help and advice offered to the unemployed. It isn't, of course, because it is bureaucratic processing, but it is a system at play - and play it is.

It works like this. Benefits are kept low so that you cannot exist long term without giving up everything beyond meagre existence. Never mind the economic downturn, what matters is to be seen to be applying for jobs over and over and over again. You know that 90% of this effort is a waste of time. You expect the employer to chuck away the application on receipt. Employers understand that Jobcentre Plus-forced applications are for the bin in almost all cases. Now we know that workfare is on the way. The only question is whether the money will be put in: even if people are forced to work for their dole it still costs more to do workfare than to have people doing nothing. The workfare itself is often inappropriate: it would have been for me (it exists now in order to end the statistic of long term unemployment - when its thirteen weeks are done you are no longer counted as long term unemployed). I improved my situation thanks to well situated friends and supporters, and was able to give them something in return. Workfare will mean the unemployed doing all sorts of projects that are otherwise expensive to do, like environmental clean-ups and the like. It puts people into charity shops and makes the voluntary sector involuntary. Some employers receive free labour for marginal activities. But it is coming on big time and will kick in well before the present eighteen months. It only helps people get work if the workfare is appropriate and if situated with an employer who wants to pay the person rather than get another free workfare offering. It will mean that as unemployment rises, the statistics will show falls in the unemployment figures.

This is the world of appearances, and it is pure deception. It's why we no longer know what our economy runs on any longer. What the debt mountain was about was a cover for economic and productive failure; the solution offered at present is more debt and more consuming, but it was the problem in the first place. People of intelligence (and there is an army of us) are wasted, with nowhere to fit into this bizarre mixed economy. It is why, I suspect, that processed A levels are actually enough, because nothing else is needed - it just undermines Higher Education, in as much as it is needed.

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