Work – 4

In previous posts, I have briefly talked about the effect of Artificial Intelligence on jobs.  I now what to look at work itself.

As we all know that there are thousands of different jobs and different businesses.  But, I wonder how much we think about the issue of how ethical is each job and whether there are there too many businesses, as a good number do go bust, and others get so big, that they become impersonal.

So, we need a discussion of what sort of jobs we will need in the future, especially when it comes to unskilled and semi skilled work.  For example, will we need refuse collectors, when it is likely the whole process from collection to sorting to reusing rubbish will be done by machines?  How are we going to tap into those skills?

What about jobs that we do not need? For example, arms salespeople who promote death and destruction, and striptease artists, who denigrate the individuals involved as well as the punters.  There may also be too many businesses focusing on one area like there is in the fashion world?

We need to think ‘outside the box’ in the following areas –

  • how can we shorten the supply chains to reduce the impact on the environment?
  • can we come up with new environmentally friendly ways of transporting products?
  • how can we identify where all our products come from and whether they are ethically sourced
  • are the all workers in the supply chains paid a real living age, work in safe and healthy environments and are valued at all levels of the supply chains?
  • is the job, product or service really necessary, does it add any value to one’s life?
  • can we come up with new ways of recycling all products, especially those in the plastics industry?
  • are there new ways of providing renewable energy which avoids the need for electricity or gas?
  • how can we create jobs that are interesting, fulfilling and cater to all levels of skills?
  • can we design more effective ways of educating and train people from infants to adults that makes sure everyone has literacy, numeracy and IT skills?
  • do we need to seek ways of encouraging businesses to move out of London and the South-east to the rest of the country so as to reduce dependence on any given area?
  • how can we make sure that there are several different key industries in every city and town, so if one goes bankrupt, the whole community is less affected than if there was only one major employer

I believe that all businesses should operate at a number of levels –

  • all should be a social franchise, where all the workers are owners along with the local community, so businesses do not become so big as to dominate each sector but at the same time seek to work together;
  • where there are a number of similar businesses, like fashion stores, they should form an ‘alliance’ so that they share premises and work collaboratively to keep costs down and offer customers more choice;
  • governments to encourage everyone to continuously learn new skills through practical on the job training as well as theory, especially those who are manual and semi-skilled workers through generous grants from the Government as well as businesses, particular in the new and upcoming sectors, so employees can move from one set of skills to another to keep themselves in work;
  • each social enterprise to learn to recognise the signs as to when they need to adapt to the changing market and world, and to make sure people do not lose their jobs;
  • all jobs should involve all the talents a worker has to its highest level, through attitude training, making sure the job has variety, good working conditions, little bureaucracy, is based on relational thinking, excellent customer service and high quality products and/or services – that means more intense recruiting process and inductions – we need new ways to carry this out;
  • seriously think about what jobs need humans and which do not – I would suggest that there are current jobs which need customer facing staff, for example in transport, banking and government – to develop loyalty;
  • make sure that most staff can speak one or more languages other than English so they can work with partners throughout the world – this is essential in particular in the tourism and manufacturing sectors;
  • tax all internet providers who sell goods and services (except charities) in each country they serve so as to encourage a level playing field with regards to physical shops and services, and to help provide funding for government services for communities;
  • all businesses to be transparent in their dealings both internally and externally – there needs to be a register of all businesses particularly in the area of beneficial ownership and tax paid in relation to earnings;
  • tax havens are abolished throughout the world;
  • etc.

So, please start thinking about, in particular, what types of jobs we really need that are useful to society at large and take care of the workers.  I look forward to hearing from people with ideas to develop the above.

https://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/

https://employeeownership.co.uk/

https://www.ica.coop/en

https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/

https://transitionnetwork.org/about-the-movement/

 

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Work – 3

Over the past couple of decades, work has changed irretrievably, mainly because of technology, and it is beginning to get to a stage that many jobs are being undertaken by robots or other forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  The question is what are we to make of this?  Should we allow Robots to take over our jobs, and if they do, what will be left for us to do with all the so-called spare time we will have?

We first have to remember that we are all made in God’s image to take care of His creation, the planet Earth.  That is to say, to manage all the resources God has given us.  Before Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God, work was fulfilling and enjoyable.  After this rebellion it became tedious, but since the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christians are called to redeem our work and make it fulfilling again.  Work often gives people their identity, but for Christians our identity is found in God, as His children.  So, we should bring the teachings of God to our workplace, especially in terms of our character, in such areas as integrity and being joyous.  But, we are also to seek God’s perspective on our work.  This is where we really need to think about the ethics of any given area of employment – what sort of jobs should exist and how can we make them fulfilling.  Now, for some people who carry out unskilled work, it will be boring, but for others they really enjoy the role. Maybe, such basic jobs could be undertaken by robots, so that semi-skilled and skilled work is done by humans.

To do that we need to encourage people through training to identify what skills they need to find a fulfilling job as I believe everyone should continuously seek to ‘grow’ in their ability to adapt to changing job market and to feel more ‘useful’.  Employers also need to encourage the development of their staff, not just in skills, but seeing them as ‘whole’ people and pay accordingly.  And because there is so much competition these days, businesses will have to identify niche markets to develop themselves. That is why we need a discussion of what sorts of businesses should be supported, and whether they are ethical, that is they provide a service or product that society really needs and is provided in a way which does not take advantage of anybody, and is transparent in its dealings. Hence, the importance, in the area of manufacturing, that products are environmentally-friendly and can be re-used, even it means recycling (circular economy – https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/circular-economy and  http://learn.tearfund.org/en/resources/policy_and_research/sustainable_economics/the_circular_economy/ )  and they last a lifetime, so as to reduce the amount of waste we produce.  For the resources of the Earth are finite, and never were meant to be over-used.

Another key area is to make customer service, whether to suppliers or to customers, a top priority; seeking to go the extra mile.  Hence the importance in investing heavily in staff development at all levels, including the directors/managers.  Having a really good experience with suppliers (at all levels), helps people to feel valued.  This where the concept of a Relational Business comes into its own (http://relationalthinking.net/relational-business/), which may lead to a lifelong customer.

The taxation system needs to be linked to the benefits framework (see earlier blog on this), to help encourage creativity, responsibility, fulfilment and leadership.

So, in conclusion, robotics in themselves are possibly a good thing, but questions need to be asked whether they should take over semi-skilled and skilled work, which often needs a human touch, so we need guidelines as to how far this area should go.  And at the same time to need to think about what sort of jobs should exist and how they can be made to be more meaningful.

Work – 2

The Long-term Unemployed

A suggestion to help the long-term unemployed find suitable employment:

a – Skill testing in five areas – intensive over five days with an approved ‘Investors in People’ training provider:

  1. Creative – the arts, literacy skills, culinary skills, fairtrade, thinking skills, etc;
  2. Physical – the sciences, health, sport, physical geography, numeracy, etc;

  3. Spiritual – various faiths and their beliefs, worldviews, and how they affect our understanding and practices ie ethics, vocation, etc;
  4. Social – relationships, community and issue involvement, human geography, world history, politics, etc;
  5. Practical – do-it-yourself, empowering others, analytical skills, debating skills, mediation skills.

b – Develop a training plan with SMART goals identifying any specific training the person requires with the training done in such a way as if they were going to mentor/coach someone else in the skill area(s) they show the most potential – this also provided by the training organisation for up to six weeks, depending on the individual’s requirements;

c – Place in a third sector organisation – to use mentoring/coaching skills in a specific project under supervision for six weeks;

d – Identify a work placement with a local employer, where they spend six weeks developing their potential skills with a mentor/coach in each of several different areas;

e – Given a four day intensive job-finding training, not teaching.  This to include filling in application forms, writing curriculum vitaes, interviewing skills (role-play as interviewer and interviewee), appearance, dealing with nerves, employer research, etc;

f – A Personal Advisor is allocated to help the individual ‘target’ employment opportunities suitable for the individual, taking into account personal circumstances and trying to help them overcome any obstacles;

g – If the individual needs to move to find appropriate job, an allowance is paid and help is given in finding suitable accommodation (this bit is done by a local ‘buddy’ – see below);

h – If a job is found in a ‘new’ area, a local ‘buddy’ volunteer is allocated to help find one’s way for up to two months.  This ‘buddy’ is on hand with advice to get to know people through voluntary work and local societies; local public transport, health and council facilities and to point the individual to appropriate help with other issues;

i – Follow up after six months is undertaken to make sure that all the legal requirements have been fulfilled by the employer in terms of health and safety and salaries/wages and that the individual has settled in and found some friends.

With such support, along with investment in jobs by employers in areas of high unemployment, I am convinced long-term unemployment should be vastly reduced because employers will have experienced and skilled employees.

Work – 1

The Taxation and Benefit system needs an overhaul.  A possible solution is to merge the taxation, national insurance and benefit systems into one.

Then one would need to create a system whereby there is a ‘minimum allowance’, (set by law and increased each year) that covers the basics in life which the employer would pay plus the appropriate ‘premium allowances’ (minimums set by law and increased each year) as the overall salary to the individual.

That total would then be taxed by deducting from the salary the ‘contributions’ less any ‘responsibility allowances’ (these would also have a minimum level set by law and increased each year).  As the employer would not be paying national insurance, the salary rates would be higher and thus the taxes would also be higher.

Then if someone is unemployed or retired, the Government would pay the individual the ‘minimum allowances’ plus the appropriate ‘responsibility allowances’.  Obviously the individual would not have to pay the ‘contributions’, nor would they receive the ‘premium allowances’.

Such a system would mean it could be managed centrally, and thus reduce the amount of time, paperwork and staffing required to manage the current way of doing things.  It would need to be costed to see if it not only saves money but does not disadvantage the poor and vulnerable.

Minimum   Allowances Food Based on buying un-cooked, fresh and ethically sourced food.
Housing Based on rent/mortgage payments for a two-bedroomed flat averaged across the country and divided by the number of adults in the household.
Transport Based on using public transport in London.
Clothing Based on mid-priced cost of one full-outfit for work and one for leisure-ware.
Premium Allowances Qualification Level Levels 1-5
The more difficult a qualification is, the higher the level.
Skill Level Levels 1-5
The more complex a job is, the higher the level.
Responsibility Level Levels 1-5
The level depends on how many people one is responsible for, or how much a budget they look after.
Risk Level Levels 1-5
The level depends on what sort of physical and mental danger is involved.
Loyalty Payment
For every year of service, an additional payment is made. How long such payments are made is up to the employer.
Responsibility Allowances Children
Payments only made for up to two children, but if triplets and other similar single births occur, an extra allowance is payable. Only one parent is allowed to claim this allowance.
Disability Levels 1-5
The more complex a disability, the higher a payment is made.
Caring Levels 1-5
Payment is dependent on what sort of support the person being cared for requires.
Contributions Justice and Defence Levels 1-5
The   levels relate to the total salary paid to the individual Includes the courts, police and fire
Learning and Vocation Levels 1-5
Schools, College, Universities, Researchetc
Environment and Transport Levels 1-5
Includes housing, energy and agriculture
Culture, Media and Sport Levels 1-5
Finance Levels 1-5
Includes managing the tax and benefit systems
Health, Safety and Well-Being Levels 1-5
Includes   hospitals, doctors, health and safety, ambulances
International Affairs. Levels 1-5
Includes overseas aid
The above ‘divisions’ of  ‘contributions’ are based on my blog, ‘Politics – 1’

With regard to taxing businesses, a system would have to be designed so that they pay a fair rate and it is simple enough to make sure that they do not avoid paying it.

I would suggest that all businesses that operate in the UK pay a single business tax based on the following criteria:

Basic Charges Total UK Revenue Generated from products, services and other sources. On a scale of 1-10.
Total UK Asset Value – buildings, equipment and services. A percentage.
Total UK Senior Management Payments inc bonuses. A percentage.
Premium Charges Premium Products and Services. On a scale of 1-5 depending on product group.
Dangerous Goods and Services. On a scale of 1-5 depending on consequences of exposure to the goods.
Import Duties. Varies according to country.
Ethical Reduction Charges Energy Saved from any source. On a scale of 1-10.
Good Employee Conditions inc temporary staff. On a scale of 1-5.
Ethically-sourced materials in the UK and overseas. On a scale of 1-10.
Each business would have a tax bill based on ‘basic charges’ plus ‘premium charges’ less ‘ethical reduction charges’.

VAT would be abolished as businesses would pick up the cost through paying ‘premium charges’ on the appropriate goods and services