Chapter 4: A Futile Chore

Footnote: The Job Seeker's View of the Economy

A systematic approach to job seeking requires a detailed knowledge of one's economic environment. All the necessary information exists but it is in the wrong form and beyond the reach of those who need it.

No known life-form is complete of itself. All need an environment in order to survive and function. Only together with its environment does any life-form become a viable working system. The human life-form is no exception. Modern free market capitalism has cut off the human life-form from its natural terrestrial environment and replaced that environment with an artificial one. That is, the world of work: the job market.

To survive and function within its environment any life-form must know a lot about that environment. It must know where to find the sources of its needs of life. It must know how to apply its labour to abstracting its needs from these sources. In order to survive, any life-form must maintain a detailed and accurate mental model of both the structure and the behaviour of its economic environment and the many active elements within it.

A life-form builds up a mental model of its environment from information received from that environment. In the natural world this arrives passively via the physical senses. In our artificial economic world the human life-form has no means of acquiring economic information this way. It must be passed to him in symbolic form from vast numbers of people who each contribute the little bit they are in a position to observe directly.

Inevitably, in a world whose economy is based on competition, those who are privy to information about the economic environment are very protective of it. It is of strategic economic advantage. They will only divulge it for a price or in response to a statutory obligation. As a result, economic information in useful quantities usually ends up in the databases of commercial information brokers or government depart­ments. Never in a 'database' of an unemployed individual.

As an unemployed individual, my economic environment is my local county. Or more appropriately the three counties which fall within my official 'travel to work' radius. The source of economic information for this area is a 'quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation' (quango) known as the local Training and Enter­prise Council (TEC). It has all the information I would need in order to mount a systematic, exhaustive and (I am sure) ultimately effective job search.

The information I need is a list of all the companies within my travel to work radius who employ the skills which I have and the ways in which each company deploys them. A useful bonus would be the number of employees with those skills which each company employs and, if possible, the rate at which they are increasing or decreasing that number. I could then, given the necessary resources, construct and expedite carefully targeted approaches to these companies in the same commer­cial way in which they undoubtedly target their markets.

Naturally, my local TECs refuse to supply me with such information. This is because their brief is to provide information which paints an attractive economic picture of their county to national and foreign 'inward investors'. They want to use it to tell foreign companies what a good place their county would be for them to set up their factories. They tell them about all the skills the county's workforce possesses. They tell them of all the companies ready to provide them with products and services. It is just a shame that a large part of those skills will be locked up in unemployed people who cannot find these new inward investors and vice versa.

But sadly, those who run the TECs are only interested in producing what they think their paymasters want to see. Tabulated statistics in pretty pie charts in immacu­lately desk-top-published pamphlets liberally peppered with topical buzz words like 'inward investment' and 'economic growth'.

I am sure that the TECs' databases are not currently set up to provide the economic map of the local area in a form an unemployed job seeker could use. Nevertheless, the task of generating the right model from existing data would be a trivial one. It would probably involve nothing more than writing a bit of SQL (structured query language) code to create an appropriately inverted 'view' of the data which is already there. A task which any unemployed programmer like me would be pleased to do for himself and for as many others as it could benefit. This information should be available on-line at every Jobcentre and every Job Club.

Only then will the unemployed human life-form be equipped with a mental model of his economic environment of sufficient resolution to enable him to find a job. But it could do so much more than just find him a job. It could do so much more than just find him a suitable job. It could find him the right job. The ideal job. This would result in every human resource being optimally deployed within the economy. It would thereby make the economy optimally competitive within the global free market.

Parent Document | ©May 1998 Robert John Morton