Tag Archives: Traineeships

They Are Coming For Our Kids! Jobcentre Harassment To Start From 12 Years Old.

ids-dead-teddySchool-children as young as 12 are to face Jobcentre harassment coercing them to join unpaid work schemes when they leave education the DWP have announced today.

Jobcentres busy-bodies are to be sent out into schools in a chilling move that  Iain Duncan Smith has pledged  will have a ‘dramatic’ impact on the nation’s children and encourage social mobility.  Yet this, of course, is a bare-faced lie.  There is no mention of going to college, university, or even starting a real job in today’s gushing DWP press release announcing the scheme.  Instead children will be encouraged into unpaid Work Experience, unpaid traineeships, or poverty paid so-called Apprenticeships which are little more than an excuse for companies like McDonalds to dodge paying their workers the minimum wage.  This scheme is merely the latest shabby attempt to indoctrinate young people into accepting the life of low paid, insecure, shitty jobs – or unpaid workfare – that the Tory Party have planned for the working class.

The good news is that only one school has agreed to take part so far, the Holy Trinity Catholic School in Birmingham who can be found on twitter @HolyTrinityCol. The scheme will be overseen by creepy Jobcentre district manager @NigelKimpton who seems to spend half of his time squandering tax payer’s money by posting happy-clappy ‘inspirational’ garbage on twitter.  Like the tweet below where he thinks he’s fucking Einstein.  Do you trust this man with your children’s future?

This ideological campaign comes in advance of plans to force all young people into unpaid work for private companies if they are unable to find a job.  From 2017 policies aimed at compelling those under 21 to ‘earn or learn’ will mean vicious benefit sanctions for those who refuse to work for free. And when the Tories talk about learning what they mean is stacking shelves in Poundland for no wages.  Despite their name, Traineeships contain no training beyond basic Maths and English.  They are a workfare programme, designed to prepare young people for being an Apprentice where they will be paid as little as £3.30 per hour.  And once they’ve done that they will probably be slung back on the dole, where they will face yet more workfare.

With the welfare state being weaponised against the very people it was designed to help there can be no tolerance of Jobcentre propaganda in schools – especially when benefit sanctions may be putting parent’s lives at risk.  It is beyond vile, and teachers and school kids alike should tell them in no uncertain terms to fuck off.  As for the rest of us, with mass workfare back on the cards for the young, then it’s time to tell the grasping corporate sector that if you exploit our kids, we will shut you down.

To join the fight against unpaid work visit Boycott Workfare’s website or follow them on twitter @BoycottWorkfare.

Above pic amended slightly and (I think) from here.

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Unpaid Work Schemes Are De-Skilling A Generation And Perhaps That Is The Intention

try-before-you-buy

A delegate at a recent skills conference promotes the use of unpaid work schemes. h/t @screenedout

Anyone who thinks you need to carry out an unpaid work experience placement  to be qualified to work in Poundland has never shopped in fucking Poundland.  This is not being a job snob as former Employment Minister Chris Grayling claimed when people objected to Tesco using unpaid staff.  It is simply recognising that an employee in a shop adds value to that business from day one – and so they should be paid from day one.

The growth of unpaid work in the UK has been justified with familiar claims that the young are lazy, or need to be taught how to get out of bed in the morning.  There is nothing new about this.  The generation that came of age in the late 80s and early 90s were ‘slackers’ and all the same crap was said about us.  Now some of those slackers are saying the same thing about young people today.

The truth is that the young are working longer for less money than at any point in the last half century.  Many are on shitty Apprenticeships which will be paid just £3.30 an hour even after an increase which takes place next month.  Others are not even being paid at all and are working full time on Work Experience schemes whilst trying to survive on £57.90 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance.  To put this sum in context, as far back as 1989 employer based Youth Training schemes for 16-18 year olds paid a similar amount to this and usually came with a day-release placement at college once a week.  Even this has now disappeared.  Those on the government’s Work Experience scheme receive no formal training at all beyond the odd workshop in how to write a CV.  A recent survey of employers found that even 26% of young people on an Apprenticeship only received less than 3 hours training a week.

This shocking statistic comes from the Employer Perspectives Survey carried out by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).  This large annual survey has regularly been used as evidence that unpaid work experience for the young is essential because this is what employers say they want.  The DWP’s recent disastrous #WECan campaign was launched with a gushing press release quoting from the survey that two thirds of employers say that “work experience is a crucial factor when hiring new employees”.

This was an outright lie.  What the survey actually says is that 23% of employers believe ‘relevant’ work experience is critical when recruiting staff whilst 43% said it was significant.  This is just obvious.  The first thing anyone’s going to ask when offering someone a job is whether they’ve done it before or not.  In some cases, such as being an airline pilot, it will indeed be critical that they have had some experience flying a plane.  Yet the #WeCan campaign claimed that any work experience was important, no matter how irrelevent to the job hopes of the young people concerned.

The DWP are not the only ones who have been less than honest with these survey results.  UKCES themselves have misrepresented the results to promote the value of unaid work – such as in the tweet below which claims that work experience is the most common attribute employers cite as lacking in young recruits.  A look at the accompanying graph shows that employers appeared to think that it is work or life experience that is lacking amongst new young recruits.  A look at the survey from which these figures came shows that what employers were actually asked was whether education leavers had a “lack of working world / life experience or maturity”.  Even then less than half of bosses said this was a problem amongst 16 year olds, whilst only 14% of employers thought that 18 year old college leavers lacked life/work experience or maturity.ukces-tweetWhat this survey suggests is that it is just not true that most employers are obsessed with the idea that the young are too lazy and feckless to work. And this shows in their recruitment practices.  31% of employers said they had recruited an education leaver in the last 2-3 years whilst only 29% had recruited someone over 50.

The current obsession with mass workfare is not just pandering to the needs of employers, it is pandering to the never-ending whining of the worst kind of employers – like the 10% of bosses who brazenly told UKCES that the reason they offered work experience placements was to help with the workload or because it meant they didn’t have to pay people.

Legislation is on the way which will force all young people into an unpaid traineeship, an unpaid community work placement, or if they can find one, a poverty paid Apprenticeship.  These are young people that could be studying at college, or might have gone to university had the government not tripled tuition fees.  They could be fucking about with computer code, or motorbikes, or making things to flog online.  Or making music, art or youtube movies.  From the UK’s once thriving music scene to the once thriving alternative press, young people with time on their hands have achieved incredible things which have brought benefits to the whole of society in time.  And in that process they gained far more work/life experience or maturity then any shitty work placement in a supermarket could offer them.

Unpaid work experience schemes are de-skilling the young, the opposite of their claimed intention.  But perhaps this is really why they exist.  With the number of middle class jobs expected to shrink due to automation then there will no longer be space for social mobility.  The architects of workfare schemes are simply ensuring that in future the good jobs go to their kids and the working class youth are put back in their place.

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Don’t Let The Garden Bridge Turn Into The Workfare Bridge, Tell @TheGardenBridge To Pay A Living Wage

garden-bridge1

All those struggling with ever more vicious cuts to social security will be delighted to learn that millions of pounds of public money is soon to spent building a new bridge in Central London with a garden on it.  And if that isn’t enough of an insult at a time of soaring hunger and homelessness then – if Lanbeth Council get their way – some of those building this bridge won’t even get paid.

Over £60 million has been pledged already by the publicly owned Transport for London to build a Garden Bridge across the River Thames just yards away from two other bridges.  This vital project, which developers say has the support of business leaders and a famous architect, is the latest attempt to turn the capital into an elaborate Disneyland and playground for the global super rich.  With gentrification fast turning London into cultural desert then ever more gimmicks like this will be necessary to ensure middle class dickheads from across the globe keep flocking to city in the hope of bumping into Harry fucking Potter.

With planning permission granted it looks likely the bridge will now be built, although Westminster and Lambeth Council are still squabbling over the details.  As part of the negotiations, late last year Lambeth Council drew up proposals calling for the construction of the bridge to include ‘training and job opportunities’ for those that face significant barriers to work and ‘need support to get their foot in the door’.

Elsewhere in the document Lambeth say the developers should deliver Traineeships and Apprenticeships to local unemployed people.  Traineeships are a workfare scheme which include up to two months unpaid ‘work experience’ and are used to prepare young people for becoming an Apprentice where they will be paid just £2.73 an hour for the first year.  Let the good times roll.

Lambeth Council have also called for paid work experience placements in horticulture once the bridge is open, although they acknowledge that this would require some funding.  With the Tories promising permanent workfare for those under 21, then it is likely their flagship Westminster Council, who also get a say, will have their own plans to push young people into unpaid or poverty paid work on the bridge.

Nowhere in the document do Lambeth call for those working on the bridge to receive the London Living Wage, so we should, especially at the moment when the developers are pretending to be everybody’s friends.  You can contact them on twitter @TheGardenBridge and via their facebook page to demand that everyone who works on this bridge, whether they are training or not, gets a proper fucking wage.

UPDATE 29/6/15:  The Garden Bridge have said on twitter that they are “in early stages of developing educational & volunteering plans.”  So far they have not ruled out using workfare or committed to pay the London Living Wage.

Join the fightback against rampant gentrification in the capital at Camden’s first ever Fuck Parade on Saturday July 11th.

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The TUC And Workfare: Sadly It’s Worse Than You Think

workfare_0Just days after the TUC teamed up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Tory Ministe Nick Boles, to sing the praises of unpaid work, a shocking document has emerged which goes even further in endorsing workfare.

As unearthed by @refuted, the TUC have issued guidleines to union reps on what they should do if their employer plans to take workfare placements.  Astonishingly the TUC even appear to want to help reps to:  approach their employer to provide young unemployed people in their area with a good quality work experience placement“.  They are not just refusing to oppose workfare, but are actively encouraging it in unionised workplaces.

There then follows a description of what the TUC have decided is good workfare but which barely even resembles the current schemes.  Their claim that “Work experience placements should not continue for more than a few weeks comes despite their previous endorsement of Traineeships which can involve up to five months unpaid work.   Workfare should also always lead to a job or an Apprenticeship say the TUC, yet not one of the current work experience programmes offers this.

The TUC claim workfare employers should provide fares, lunch and any other out of pocket expenses, yet it is the providers managing the schemes that are responsible for paying fares.  The companies running the latest workfare placements are even warned:  “You must not give (and ensure host organisations do not give) any incentive payments or rewards to the claimant for participation in CWP”.  So there goes lunch.

Laughably they even say people on workfare should be informed about “workplace employment rights” when those on unpaid government schemes do not have any fucking employment rights. Get sacked, and you will probably get sanctioned.

On the question of compulsory workfare – and all unpaid work comes with a heavy dose of Jobcentre coercion whether backed by sanctions or not – the TUC are vague.  All they are prepared to say is that the best workfare placements are ‘voluntary’ and that they don’t like the curent benefit sancioning regime.  And that’s it.  This is their craven response to forced unpaid labour under the threat of poverty, destitution or homelessness.  The same poverty that recently killed David Clapson.  They don’t like it.  It makes them feel bad.  But they are going to do fuck all about it and seem to think sanctions are worth it for all the wonderful training workfare offers.

It is unclear whether the TUC expect their conditions to be met before an employer begins using workfare.  What is certain is that they never will be, the rules of workfare are written into legislation.  There is no guidance on what a rep should do if their employer ignores these demand.  The answer seems to be nothing.

No-one expected the TUC to be much help in the struggle against welfare reforms, but for them to openly side with Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP is obscene.  Their intervention could not have come at a worse time as the government attempts a massive roll out of the biggest workfare programme yet.  It will be claimants resisting this attack on working rights, not tired old union bureacrats.  But if the TUC are not prepared to back those who actually face unpaid work then the best they could do is get out of the fucking way.

You can let the TUC know what you think @TUCnews.  Don’t expect them to listen though.

The guidance is available at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/learning-and-training/work-experience-placements-guidance-union-reps

This blog will be sporadic until September.

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TUC Side With Bosses To Back Tory Workfare Scheme

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

In an astonishing and genuinely sad day for the trade uni0n movement, the TUC have teamed up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to issue a statement supporting unpaid work.

The TUC have sided with the bosses to sing the praises of the Tory Traineeship programme.  This unpaid scheme can involve up to five months full-time work, sometimes for giant profit making companies like BT or Virgin.  The placements are used to ‘prepare’ young people to be Apprentices, although there is no guarantee that they will be offered even this at the end of the scheme.

Just like Margaret Thatcher’s despised YTS schemes, Traineeships represent a wealth grab by greedy employers.  Once companies recognised they had to pay young people whilst they trained – now the tax payer will  pick up the tab whilst the worker gets nothing.  And just like the YTS programme was used as political cover to strip benefits from 16/17 year olds, Traineeships will be used to undermine social security payments for those under 25.  George Osborne has already announced that under 22 year olds who refuse a Traineeship will soon face the prospect of six month’s workfare somewhere else instead. 

Despite Osborne’s announcement, the TUC say in the statement that Traineeships should be voluntary.  As claimants themselves know, very little is voluntary such is the current mass benefit sanctioning culture at the DWP.   This doesn’t seem to bother the scabs running the TUC who seem to have decided that Traineeships aren’t workfare, and even if they would rather they were voluntary they appear to back them anyway.  This is an appalling attack on not just young unemployed people, but all workers who will see their own wages and conditions undermined by an army of unpaid staff.

It is hardly surprising that the CBI are salivating at the prospect of this huge subsidy for business at the expense of the working class.  Tory Skills Minister Nick Boles has joined them saying he is ‘delighted’ that the TUC support this scheme.  They no doubt dream of a day when they don’t have to pay people under 25 at all. That day may not be far away and that the TUC are helping to bring it closer is as shocking as it is shameful.

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Fair Train’s Workfare Whitewash Is Not Fair – Don’t Be Fooled

workfare-Trophies

For just £80 companies can buy a shit lump of glass from Fair Train and boast to their customers how they don’t pay their staff.

“Starting in some areas at first, anyone aged 18 to 21 signing on without these basic skills will be required to undertake training from day one or lose their benefits.

If they are still unemployed after six months, they will have to start a traineeship, take work experience or do a community work placement – and if they don’t turn up, they will lose their benefits.”

George Osborne, Autumn Statement 2013

Way back in February 2012 it emerged that Tesco were recruiting unpaid workers on government workfare schemes.  The public were furious at this grotesque exploitation from one of the UK’s biggest employers and a storm of protest erupted, both online and in the streets, about private companies using workfare.

The DWP were thrown into chaos at the outrage.  Emergency meetings were held with top employers.  Government documentation which proved unemployed people were being forced to work for free was hastily re-written as DWP ministers lied that this was not the case.  Eventually, in a humiliating climbdown, it was announced that the Work Experience scheme would in future be ‘voluntary’, at least until the claimant had agreed to take up the placement at which point attendance would be forced.

Whilst this was a major victory for anti-workfare campaigners, the fight against forced unpaid work was only just beginning.   Work Experience was just one workfare scheme, many other unpaid work positions remained mandatory.  Then, over the next two years, the number of people having benefits stopped or sanctioned for not meeting increasingly petty and pointless conditions imposed by Jobcentres soared.  Poverty not seen in years re-emerged in the UK as foodbanks opened across the country to meet the desperate need of those stripped of benefits.  A climate of fear took hold in Jobcentres, as many advisors ruthlessly bullied and harassed unemployed people in order to meet unofficial targets to sanction as many claims as possible.  The latest figures show that more people are having benefits sanctioned than ever before – 227,629 sanctions were imposed in the last three months of 2013.

In this toxic environment claimants have reported that if they refuse a voluntary workfare scheme, such as Work Experience, they are threatened with different, mandatory workfare schemes instead.  Despite the rules, many people are still being given the impression by some Jobcentres that Work Experience, Traineeships and other unpaid work schemes for private companies are mandatory.  And in his Autumn Statement last year George Osborne announced that young people who refuse a Traineeship or Work Experience position will be sent on a six month unpaid Community Work Placement instead.

If there were any doubts before that Work Experience and Traineeships were not forced work then George Osborne has laid them to rest.  Whilst his plans have not been fully implemented yet, the Government’s intention is clear.  Young people who do not take up unpaid work, for companies like Poundland and Virgin, will be sent to carry out 780 hours forced labour instead or lose their benefits.  Traineeships, and the Work Experience scheme are workfare, there can be no argument about that anymore.

This is why it is genuinely astonishingly that a government funded body, appallingly backed by the TUC, should still be offering a Work Experience Quality Standard which attempts to claim these schemes are voluntary.

Fair Train sell these Quality Standards to companies who must then go through the rigorous procedure of filling in a short form and sending them a cheque.  This will allow their workfare crimes to be washed away as Fair Train pronounce their use of unpaid workers is voluntary and even the “first step into a dream career”.

Of course the truth emerges when Fair Train try to sell this shady racket to employers.  Work Experience can help with recruitment because it give  employers a chance to ‘try before they buy’  says Fair Train – showing this vile organisation really views young people as mere commodities to be exploited and discarded as greedy employers see fit.

Happily the Fair Train quality standard has turned out to be a dismal failure.  Last year they organised a week celebrating unpaid work which turned out to be an embarrassing flop.  Since then barely over 160 employers have bought one of their Quality Standards, including a car washing firm, a fried chicken shop and several charity shops.  Dream careers indeed.

So desperate have Fair Train been to flog their workfare badge of shame, and their comedy workfare trinkets, that they have even attempted to hijack the hugely successful Keep Volunteering Voluntary campaign launched in response to the latest mass workfare scheme.   Claimant’s rights website Refuted recently revealed on twitter that Fair Train had encouraged them to sign up, presumably after securing their details from the Keep Volunteering Voluntary website.  Refuted have long campaigned against exactly the kind of unpaid work that Fair Train are so keen to re-habilitate.  Those running this shady outfit are clearly not the sharpest tools in the box, although they are tools.

It is sad to see that several charities who say they do not participate in workfare, including MIND, Scope, Oxfam and Shelter, all have shops who have signed up to the Fair Train workfare badge of shame.  This is likely to have been done at a local level and hopefully will be dealt with by head offices.  Most of Fair Train’s customers seem to be grouped around small geographical areas, suggesting they are employing telesales staff to go through local business directories to flog their services.  Charities opposed to workfare should ensure that all of their local shops and offices are aware of this practice.

No-one needs these clowns. Organisations opposed to forced unpaid work can sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement.  It doesn’t cost anything and those behind it are genuinely independent, unlike Fair Train, who are funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, a body accountable to Iain Duncan Smith.  There is nothing fair about the unpaid work that @FairTrainOrg celebrate, it is exploitation and it is not volunteering.

Fair Train currently have a handy list of employers who don’t pay their workers wages available at: http://www.fairtrain.org/organisations

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Virgin Give The Game Away: Unpaid Worker Schemes Bring Corporate And Commercial Opportunities

traineeshipsVirgin Media are the latest company to sacrifice their public image to benefit from unpaid workers on Government schemes.  According to the company, employing young people on Traineeships and paying them nothing can bring “corporate and commercial opportunities”.

The shocking admission comes in a leaflet advertising the Traineeship programme (pdf), which can involve up to six months work without pay.  They have been designed to ‘prepare’ young people for an ‘apprenticeship’ at below the minimum wage and participants are often not even offered one of these at the end of the scheme.  Instead they are given an ‘exit interview’ to pat them on the heads for all their unpaid work.

As pointed out by @boycottworkfare, unpaid work on Traineeships is not yet mandatory, although no doubt many Jobcentre advisors will try and pretend they are.  They may soon be right.  George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement that in future people under the age of 21 who refuse some form of workfare in the corporate sector will be sent on an even longer workfare scheme with a charity instead.  With the latest workfare scheme appearing to be in chaos, it remains to be seen if this particular threat will ever be fully carried out.

In the meantime Virgin Media seem quite happy with the new arrangements and say they will be recruiting unpaid workers on an ongoing basis.  This is hardly surprising, according to the leaflet Traineeships were ‘developed  in response to business needs’ and can help ‘build the workforce required for business success’.  Virgin Media Loves not paying wages and that’s the name of their new twitter campaign.  Let them know what you think @VMLoves

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