This morning I gave a Keynote presentation to the Jobs Australia conference in Melbourne, which is a gathering of people who work in what I call the extra industry – the ‘unemployment industry’ – which has sprung up in the neo-liberal period to manage the unemployment that the government has deliberately created as a result of its obsession with fiscal austerity (trying to run surpluses when increased and on-going deficits are required). I take no umbrage with individuals who work in the ‘industry’ but its productivity is close to zero (you cannot search for jobs that are not there) and they have become co-opted servants of the pernicious government policy regime. The facts are clear – we have erected a massive corporate sector funded by government to manage the fiscal failure. The problem is that all these job service providers are not just shunting inanimate widgets around into so-called training schemes etc but are dealing with very disadvantaged people, which the capitalist system is excluding from the opportunity to engage in paid and productive work. The ‘unemployment sector’ is the Government’s front-line attack dog on the victims of the policy failure.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) released their updated this week (October 19, 2011) – Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 Update – which reminds us of how long the current policy failures will continue to generate negative consequences. That is, the world will be enduring the costs of the policy failures for decades to come by denying our youth the opportunity to fully participate in the economy. The increasing incapacity of our economies to provide sufficient work in hours and quality to meet the requirements of our youth is one of the major characteristics of the neo-liberal era. It is a deliberate, policy-induced outcome – that is, governments are squarely to blame for the malaise. At a time when neo-liberals use rising dependency ratios to justify their attacks on budget deficits but then fail to realise that our unemployed youth are a major casualty of the fiscal austerity – that is, our future workforce. The scourge of youth unemployment is condemning our future workers to a low-wage, unstable and productive employment history.