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Dear Glasgow report: Work

On 31 July 2014, as part of The Tin Forest festival, the people of Glasgow were invited to attend Dear Glasgow. Here they were asked to discuss the burning issues in their city. The discussion groups were set by the participants themselves; Tolerance and Multiculturalism, Gender Inequality, Children and Young People, Work, the Independence Referendum, the Environment and Mental Health.

Here’s what the Work group discussed…

All the opinions expressed here are those of participants of Dear Glasgow and not necessarily those of the National Theatre of Scotland or its partners.

What could we do tomorrow?

  • 20 minute school every day – what do you want to learn?
  • Work a 4-day week- Take all our holidays on a Friday for a year.
  • Take a year off – a sabbatical- every 7 years.
  • Everybody should have the right to participate in a meaningful society – this should be in the constitution.
  • Help employers to hire people.
  • Work less.
  • Crowdsourcing opinion- what is a positive destination- we should inform government
  • Jimmy Reid- we are not rats, we are human beings- everybody should read this.

Contributor’s quotes from the discussion

“The whole work paradigm is shifting so dramatically.”

“Attitudes to work and what we do – how that fits in society, this is changing”

“In the past work was something we did to stay alive – now we think of it as things we want to do.”

“Within work we need to look at the influences on young people and careers advice. The jobs young people will be doing in the future aren’t even invented yet.  Technology is having a huge influence.”

“The opportunities for young people exist in Scotland – we genuinely have an opportunity to have a diverse, educated workforce made up of serial experts – people can have expertise in a number of industries”

“We need to think about our job not being the be all and end all.”

“We need to think about sustainability- we do what we need to get by and we also have our outside activities. The job might be a bit crap – how do we convince someone it’s ok to have a crap job.”

“What makes a job crap? It’s 35/ 40 hours a week”

“The problem is there isn’t enough work – this is a problem with government.  Highly educated people are scrabbling over crap jobs. We need a commitment to full employment. People who don’t have employment don’t have access to the economy, they are more likely to have mental health issues, and they’re not democratically active. If the government doesn’t put money into the economy it stalls. Companies hire people when they are selling- if there is a lot of unemployment people aren’t buying- market stalls. Government needs to get the economy moving.”

“There is a hierarchy of employment/ jobs- what is a ‘dead end job’. People are loving volunteering for the games- standing on the corner with a pole in their hand. Could job swaps encourage us to look at jobs differently and value them?”

“What would we say to the government? Business programmes for government don’t always meet the needs of employers.  The people who advise employers/ small businesses are not always the best people to advise.”

“We are lacking a vision about what employment we need to reward people for being entrepreneurial, people who are running small businesses have a lot of red tape that they come up against.”

“Flexi time is becoming easier- sometimes when people ask for flexi time they are dismissed- people/ employers need to change their attitude.  Flexibility would be great but it might put pressure on the organisation- employers need to be helped to facilitate it.  9-5 worked for the industrial revolution but not anymore.”

“Community groups and local groups could offer employment opportunities- where would the funding come from.”

“The cost of giving people jobs is not the real cost- it’s the cost of people being unemployed.”

“Cost – could be an economic cost or a cost to society.”

“Volunteering is really valuable- people are taking holidays from their work to be involved and they are getting rewards which are immediate. Nobody is coming up with that vision in terms of value. It’s not necessarily about money- if you are valued it gets you into the cycle of meaningful work.”

“What is meaningful work? – is it meaningful to the person doing it or to society?”

“It’s not necessarily about money- if you are valued it gets you into the cycle of meaningful work.”

“The government don’t value people who do really valuable work- for example, carers. We have a culture of valuation that puts our number on our foreheads- we look for grades and not life skills. We need to look at meaningful skill sets and how we can value people and apply these skillsets to other jobs.”

“What if the government allowed us to have sabbaticals in life? Supported time-out from work.”

“Meaningful work is also about a meaningful life.”

“There is still a whole section of society who work to live. This distinction work/ life is going to change in the future.”

“People with skills are not valued- how do we recognise these skills?”

“Caring, volunteering, these are not seen as meaningful to society whereas anything that drives the economy is seen as meaningful.”

“We are incorrectly defining economic activity – we do this in terms of earning money. But caring, looking after children is economic activity.”

“In a perfect world- being a carer, the government would reward you for that.”

“Experience vs. qualifications- how do we value both”

“We all of us have skills and abilities to be employed in a whole number of different employments in the future”

“It’s likely now that people won’t have a job for life- you will do lots of different things.”

“Education should be life long”

“We should have a day a week in school- even when we are working”

“Can we integrate technology into the classroom?”

“Dreaming is so important- but it’s not dreaming- it’s a vision.”

“We are all equal in our own potential. We need to create a system to get all of our skills that we have to come to the fore.”

“Can we get teachers to recognise children/ young people for skills rather than achievement. Achievement other than attainment- not teaching to pass an exam.”

“We need to build confidence in each individual child.”

Problems

“Structural- mass unemployment”

“Unfair power hierarchy- at work”

“Gender inequality”

“Lack of recognition”

“Feeling undervalued at work”

“Age discrimination”

“Lack of fulfilment- dead end”

Solutions

“Explicit commitment to full employment”

“Stronger unions”

“More recognition at work”

“More management accountability”

“Assistance to hire people”

“Redefine ‘positive destination’ to meaningful life. What does a positive destination mean?”

“Job swap and sabbatical”

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