Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gerard Henderson, Youth Unemployment, Slumberland, Small Business Skills and jobs for pimply teens

(Above: OECD report excited about growing educational opportunities for nerds).

If there was a competition for the most boring and humorless columnist at work in the Australian media today, I'd nominate Gerard Henderson, and I reckon he'd win hands down. Who else have you got?

Okay, sorry, didn't mean to disturb your sleep. Reading the SMH can do that.

Take his column today on youth unemployment - Labor must not ignore youth jobs - which purports to be a pious prayer for the fate of the young unemployed, and really is just an excuse for Henderson to bang on again about unfair dismissal legislation and what a disincentive it is for the employment of full-time staff.

He even cunningly wheels out plucked political chook Barry Cohen (minister in the Hawke government) to complain that the Labor party now has fewer and fewer people with business experience. I guess it matches my complaint that fewer and fewer in the right wing commentariat have any meaningful business experience, the business of writing columns sucking up to business being enough monkey business for them. No need to actually work, when a few scribbles pays the bills.

Henderson seizes on a recent OECD report as justifying his one note melody, but he does so love to cherry pick. (The report's available here, only by subscription, but think yourself lucky, because if Henderson hasn't already sent you off to slumberland, the prose deployed by OECD experts always works like a charm, way better and more healthy than sleeping pills). 

Here are three key recommendations from the report, which is entitled Jobs for Youth: Australia:

The OECD recommends further action, targeting youth at risk. The following measures should be considered:

• Raise average educational attainment. The focus should be on retention until an ISCED 3 (upper-secondary) qualification is obtained rather than simply on staying in education until a given age (e.g. 18). More vocational education and training courses and apprenticeships should be set up within secondary schools. Investment of more resources in tertiary institutions offering short and flexible programmes should be increased. The Youth Allowance should also be made conditional on having attained, or committing to attain, the equivalent of an ISCED 3 degree.

• Ensure indigenous children aged under 5 use more health care and pre schooling services. To boost demand, authorities should consider offering financial incentives that reward pre school attendance and regular health checks among indigenous families.

• Preserve the core of the traditional carrot and stick activation mechanisms and maintain its effectiveness. The planned move from the current eight week non payment period for participation failures to a more gradual compliance system will be tougher to implement and monitor. It will at least require a greater capacity and willingness on the part of Centerlink to promptly assess and handle problematic cases reported by Job Network providers.

All pious, well meaning stuff, and decidedly socialist, requiring in the usual way government action, government investment, and even more educational opportunities prompted by government spending. The sort of stuff that induces fits in the commentariat, so it's away with that nonsense, and back to banging the drum about government legislation producing youth unemployment.

Henderson manages to extract from all the OECD guff a warning about pricing low skilled youth out of entry-level jobs, and spends much of the rest of the time abusing Network Ten's Meet the Press for not hammering treasurer Wayne Swan about his grievous youth employment errors (while at the same time saying that Swan is politically smart and would have been unlikely to say something he didn't want to say).

Good grief, as Charlie Brown used to say, when his only employment was falling over each time he tried to kick a football.

Lucky presenter Paul Bongiorno doesn't take Henderson's advice, or his program would shift from an asterick rating to a total blob.

And that's enough of that. 

In good news for the day, Ten has announced it always intended to keep The Simpsons on air (for the time being), and it seems it was all a conspiracy by the Daily Terror to rattle their cage by whipping up a storm about the cartoon being cancelled (or something like that). 

Once again western civilization as we know it has been saved from the brink of catastrophe. 

Which is just as well because watching The Simpsons might be the only way to relieve the deep social problems produced by the growing level of youth employment, all the result of Rudd government legislation (no, it's nothing to do with the GFC you simpletons), and which is likely to lead western civilization to the brink of catastrophe within the next six months.

(Below: exciting business opportunities for young people to pursue a career and contribute to the obesity epidemic).

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