Friday, 30 July 2010

Round-up, 31 July 2010

This week saw the last of the three "The Fairy Jobmother" programmes. There's little more to be said about this grisly show, but the Workers' Liberty site has the best review by Cath Fletcher. She points out the "gender politics" inherent in the show. "Hayley tells the women she’s coaching that they’re beautiful. A random good-looking woman in a coffee shop is found to be self-employed. Employment makes you attractive, you see and if you run your own business you’ll have guys falling over themselves to meet you. The men, on the other hand, are sent down the boxing gym to work out their frustrations, brain injury being, apparently, a fantastic aspiration for working-class blokes. When in episode one Dean found work as a kitchen fitter this meant he could now ‘'provide for his family’'." She also points out that, "The Fairy Job Mother has some worthwhile insights about life without work. That it’s impossible to take agency work, for example, because once you sign off it takes six weeks to sign on again, and in order to survive you have to turn to the local ‘’loan man’’ as the programme politely put it (the term’s loan shark, Hayley, when the interest rate’s 60%). And if you think, hard, about the couple in episode one, it might occur to you that had it not been for her mother’s offer of free childcare, even getting work experience would have been impossible for Maxine. Not that the programme mentioned that. The Fairy Job Mother does, in a small way, what grammar schools used to do for working-class children – give a few of them special treatment so they can get out. If Hayley Taylor could magically visit every unemployed person in the country and offer her special brand of motivation, would there be any more jobs? No. Why does this programme exist? To make us feel that it’s only the undeserving poor who’ll get hit by benefit cuts. The clue’s in the title. This isn’t a solution. It’s a fairy tale."

Of more lasting interest is the publication of the proposals to reform the benefits system. There is no guarantee that these sensible reforms will ever be inplemented, because the initial costs are high; but if they are not, it will undermine Iain Duncan Smith's whole programme.

And what of A4e? Their travelling salesman Roy Newey has been in India with the trade delegation which accompanied David Cameron on his trip to that country. In England, A4e has sold a series of workshops to Hertfordshire County Council for people running childcare facilities. They're called "Business Success in Childcare", and a document online describes what they do (with messy graphics). And if we needed a reminder that A4e and their like are about making money, there's an interesting job advert on the totaljobs site for a Partnership Manager. "You will be building relationships with key strategic stakeholders to raise A4e’s profile in each district and source critical local information and identify local sales opportunities. Such stakeholders are likely to include: Local Authorities and other local government bodies,City Strategy Pathfinders,Local Strategic Partnerships, Local Employment and Skills Boards,Regional Development Agency representatives and Local Jobcentre Plus representatives. The role will also consist of leading the development of localised solutions to secure sales and tender success as well as understanding the financial and contractual drivers to deliver profitability. Identify opportunities to improve every aspect of business activity to achieve business goals." Now, there's nothing wrong with any of this. A4e is a private company which exists to make money. That's capitalism. But it should be borne in mind whenever we read the guff about "improving people's lives".


  1. The fairy jobmother, entertainment for the middle classes lets laugh at the unemployed, but wait when it hits them and it will if we let it big time, the system is designed to collapse, so a new world order can come in, wake up people.

  2. Hot on the heels of TFJM comes 'The Boss is coming to Dinner'. This is on Five mind, not CH4, so I guess one can't expect great production standards.

    Apparantly, its supposed to be Come Dine With Me meets the Apprentice. The idea is that job seekers compete to invite bosses of various businesses round to their place for a slap up meal in order to impres their way into a job. Yet more lazy TV.

    Also in the current issue of TV Choice, a viewers letter comments about TFJM and how thier eyes were opened about how much money is given to job seekers. "No wonder some people prefer not working" they go on to say. Yet more lazy generalisations these programs seem to generate.

  3. The Channel 4 page on TFJM was also full of such comments; and witness the string of Daily Express headlines, including "Army of workshy Scots demanding a life on benefits". "The Boss is Coming to Dinner" sounds like the pits. Which unemployed person could afford to do it?

  4. getting a job c4 emma harrison


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