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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Government to Assist Unemployed Older Workers

Politicians are the only people I know who can suck and blow at the same time and they’re so good at it they can almost make the public believe they’re accomplishing something while they’re at it. Perhaps I’m being too critical. Let me rephrase that. They can almost make the public believe they’re accomplishing something besides wasting tax dollars or buying votes while they’re at it.

Today the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador announced a joint cost shared agreement that will see over 3 million in tax dollars spent to “help” displaced workers in the province. Sounds good right? So why am I pissed?

Here’s why.

The money isn’t being put into any sort of early retirement package or income supplement for these people. It isn’t being used to diversify the economy in rural areas where many of these workers live. In fact it isn’t being spent in any useful way whatsoever. Instead it’s being pumped into a program that will include, “skills assessment, upgrading, counseling and work experience”. In other words it’s being spent to re-train unemployed individuals aged 55 to 64 so they can find work in a different field.

Come on, in all honesty, couldn’t this money be applied in a much more efficient way than the training of older individuals for jobs that probably aren’t available where they lieve for companies who won’t hire anyone who is a whisper and a banana peel away from either retirement or the big sleep.

Hiring new employees, bringing them up to speed in an organization and helping them become a fully contributing part of a company takes a lot of time, effort and money. Just ask anyone who has a high employee turnover. How many companies are really going to hire someone that close to retirement age who has only just been trained in the skills needed for the job? Not many let me tell you.

According Loyola Hearn in a press release today, “The Government of Canada is committed to creating the best-educated, most-skilled and most flexible work force in the world, and that work force includes older workers."

I don’t disagree that the life experience older workers bring to the table is valuable and that many older people in our province have a lot to contribute, but let’s be realistic. This approach has been tried time and time again and it’s failed just as often. Re-training individuals a few years away from retirement and expecting them to suddenly have job offers piling up is the sort of wasteful spending and convoluted logic that’s cost millions over the years, raised the hopes (and sometimes the ire) of people who are already going through the worst of times, and made a laughing stock of government programs in general.

If the provincial and federal governments really believe the answer to the problem of displaced older workers in rural Newfoundland and Labrador is to throw money at it then at least do something useful with that money and buy them some bread and milk. The money will still be gone but at least the recipients will have a full stomach while they wait for a job offer that’ll never come.

1 comment:

BNB said...

Have to retrain for those great jobs in Alberta.