Give the money spent on unemployment to people who can actually do something about it, writes Annemarie van Gaal.
Care is increasingly becoming the responsibility of the local authorities instead of the central government. That is a good thing. Local councils are closer to the people they serve and can therefore work more efficiently and cheaply. More government tasks should be taken on by local councils. Take unemployment and the cost of unemployment.
Jobs are no longer for life. People have different jobs in companies and sectors throughout their working lives. The general consensus is that employees have to keep developing their skills in order to remain employable. But who is going to make sure that it happens?
Employees don’t see the need and employers think it’s not their responsibility. Why would they pay to train employees to go to work in a different sector or a different job?
Most people are happy with where they are and would prefer to live and work in their own local community or region. Suppose we divide the country into fifty regions and make unemployment the responsibility of those regions. Every region would get the money that is now being spent on benefits while employers take on the cost of unemployment benefits.
Think of what would happen. Employers would consider themselves ‘regional colleagues’. They would feel responsible for maintaining employees’ skills whether they work for them or a colleague. They could organise exchange programmes or temporary job pools so fewer people would face the sack. Entrepreneurs would work with education to make sure training is in line with regional demand.
The employers in the region would be responsible for deficits but they would also be allowed to invest money that is left over in employment projects in the region. They would also get to decide the volume of investment. Projects would be started to help the long-term unemployed find a job, or to create new facilities. Companies would grow. The healthy competition this would produce between regions would be all to the good.
This won’t make things cheaper in the end. But a new playing field will cut down unemployment, increase job security, help the economy and create more prosperity. The responsibility and the perks should go to those who can really do something about the problem of unemployment. Why not try it out in one region?
Annemarie van Gaal is head of AM Media and a writer and columnist.
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