Chapter 4: A Futile Chore
Footnote: Bureaucracy: Help With Relocation
Business theory suggests that the best place to set up shop is right next door to your competitor. This practice is forcing all participants in each industry to gravitate towards ever fewer and larger geographic centres. The result is an accelerating global polarisation of demand for every kind of human skill.
I moved to the place where I now live over 25 years ago. I moved here because this is where my employer was located. That employer has long since moved away. There is practically no demand for software design and development skills here today. All demand for my skills has gravitated and become polarised into a small area along the M4 corridor. In my present state I cannot afford the cost of moving there.
Neither the government nor any of its agencies provides help for unemployed people to relocate to an area where their skills are in demand. There is a slim possibility of help if the unemployed person has been offered a job in another area. However, the candidate has to find and acquire the job first. The cost of travelling to and from a distant area looking for work is prohibitive.
The Jobcentres provide what is called 'travel to interview' assistance. However, this is too restrictive and inflexible to be of any practical use. It cannot help me to scout a distant area. It only covers formal pre-arranged interviews. In order for me to qualify to have my travel costs reimbursed, the Jobcentre has to verify with the prospective employer that I actually attended the interview. The prospective employer therefore always gets to know that I am unemployed. In my industry, this makes attending the interview pointless anyway. Furthermore, 'travel to interview' expenses are paid in arrears. This alone renders the scheme useless for trips of any appreciable distance, especially when an overnight stay is required.
The result is that I am kept isolated from my marketplace. I remain imprisoned in an area of the country which for my skills is an economic desert. The geographic centres where my skills are in demand are now in the process of shifting to and agglomerating in larger and fewer centres. This shift is now occurring on a
global basis. The demand for my skills will soon shift out of the United Kingdom altogether. It is becoming ever more concentrated in Seattle and other centres in countries such as India and Russia.
This process of geographic polarisation is relentless. It is driven by the irrepressible forces of the global free market. No organisation or government can impede it. If the world must hold to the faith of free market capitalism then its nations and those who govern them will have to learn ride with it. Would it therefore not be economically sensible for the government to help people like me financially to relocate to a part of the country (or even a part of the world) where our skills are in high demand? The high initial cost would surely be less than paying us state welfare for the rest of our 'working' lives.
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©May 1998 Robert John Morton