Thursday, 6 September 2018

An Open Letter to Jamie Hepburn... The Jamie Hepburn Challenge

I think that Open Letters is what the good and the great in Hynland and Morningside write and have their buddies publish in The Times and The Herald when they have too much time on their hands and want to complain about some irritating first world, elite problem... So I thought I'd give it a try with Scotland's "stagnant economy"

Anyone else want to just scream Bill Clinton's election soundbite at the Scottish Government:

It's the Economy Stupid.

Jobs, satisfaction levels in public services, mental health in kids (And their parents), high levels of deprivation etc

This post details how the Scottish workforce is rapidly becoming an easily replacable commodity, selling tired old products, using tired old approaches like telesales reading from a script for minimum wage... couriers, warehouse 'pickers' and door to door sales (commission only).

Why are companies doing this? Because they can!! Because that's all the opportunities that are available!!

So the Scottish economy is 'stagnant' and where is the Peter Jones Academies and Gazelle in FE? What about the RBS supported Edge competition and #GoDo Espark or Scale Up Scotland and Entrepreneurial Scotland?

I think that Andrew Mitchell is onto something when he highlights people have been at the Kool Aid a little too much! And where is Espark when all this is going on? Scaling across England... hope they have more success scaling than the SNP and IndyRef has done.

There are two reasons I wrote my "Politicians Wish They Ate Their Own Dog Food" post:

1) It's snarky because I've found that it's only people who are open minded enough to say

"Yeah, we could be doing better"

Type people who are capable of listening

2) Because it's genuinely the way that I feel about politicians today - This is about the only way I'd have any time for any of them in the future. They might also learn a thing or two as well!!

Whether it's through the
  • #GoDo entrepreneurial and enterprise initiatives above (Espark, Gazelle etc), or through data like
  • The number of jobs that have a 4-5 star rating on Glassdoor with companies who have a head office in Scotland
  • Kind of jobs advertised on job boards (Including, and perhaps especially on the Governments own DWP site)
  • Walking through Glasgow's shopping areas... 
Scotland's stagnant economy is staring everyone - except the most deluded and blinkered - in the face.

Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and other MPs all did the Ice Bucket Challenge... here's my proposal for The Jamie Hepburn Challenge

The Jamie Hepburn Challenge

Mr Hepburn I challenge you to take a look at the kind of jobs that are available on job boards in Scotland... Better still, go through the User Experience of a DWP customer and see how you fare.

I asked my work coach "Have you ever been through the DWP process yourself?"
"No I don't thin anyone in here has" was the reply... are you kidding me?

My own Belbin Report includes the following summary.

Your operating style is closest to that of strategic leadership, which is usually available only at senior positions. However, before such an opportunity could present itself, you are likely to need credibility at the operational level. That might pose problems in your case... The good news is that the longer you survive, the more likely you are to become a valued contribution and to gain the greatest sense of personal fulfilment.

It's taken a while but, thanks to those who did take a chance and believed in me, I now accept the 'Strategic Leadership' comment... the bad news is (despite previous successes) I am not 'surviving,' and there is zero personal fulfilment... despite the ideas being sound.

As Mr Swinney's office and @DWPDigital @DWPJobs highlighted when I asked, they were not aware of many EdTech or Cmgr positions in Scotland.

In addition to this, my DWP Work Coach told me that the EdTech multi-billion pound industry and role that many Silicon Valley Tech companies include as one of their first hires (Community Manager) is

"Too Niche," and that
"Perhaps it's time to give up on your dream job"

So, after the NEA being ditched due to my credit rating (Thanks Vince and NRAM... appreciate it!), I've applied for anything and everything that I could in the last few weeks and "Yay!" I secured an interview for a telesales position.

"Make sure you dress accordingly... no trainers" is the only information of any note along with the interview time.

I turn up and I wish I had video'd the experience... It was something else!

Myself and a student studying Neuroscience are led into a meeting room and asked to fill a form out - this is the longest part of the process.

Telephone Number
Any Call Centre Experience

The reason the age was asked for, it turned out, was so they could work out what the minimum wage was for your age... you're self employed, so cover your own tax etc.

The 'Interviewer' did not dress the role up in any way... or make any bones about how shit it all was.

"Basically you'll be reading from a script and be on an autodiler selling home imporvements to people in shifts 10am-2pm or 2pm-7pm... if someone is interested then a 'confirmer' will make an appointment and, if this leads to a sale you'll get commission of £20"

"The next stage is Ron will give you a call and you come in hear some of our sales people go through the script and then you'll run through it... This isn't for everyone, so no problem if you decide not to do it"

She may as well have added... "We'll find another slab of meat who can read and talk, who's this desperate to make minimum wage in this way" that is until the bots replace them.

And Mr Hepburn, the worst of this isn't how far things have taken a tumble for me - think SNP 2014/15 with SNP 2018/22 and you'll get the idea - or what might be available if I lived elsewhere... It's that this isn't the worst of the jobs or the pay that is out there.

If people buy into Michael Wu's observation that where there is nothing unique and no differentuation with a product or service, it becomes a commodity and people will just make decisions based on price... then huge sections of the Scottish workforce are now disposable commodities.

My experience with Amazon for warehouse staff was something else as well.

And it's not just me either. The Amazon job included people like a maths graduate who never had a job and left uni 6 months ago... can you imagine that being the case in some of the tech hubs out there?

When I visited a classroom and asked "Who want's to make computer games for companies like Xbox or Apple when they are older" Last November, the majority of hands went up.

At what point between 5 years old to adulthood do these aspirations turn into "Working at a call centre for minimum wage?" and/or as my 17 year old son found, where are the work experience opportunities to learn to create new tech... not just consume it.

How many of these call centre staff go home at night and get onto social media or their games consoles? Where is Scottish equivalent of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter etc etc

£17 million in electronic charging points? So we can consume more imported tech innovations... Only to criticize Elon Musk and Telsa for not paying tax and for the loss of jobs as the garages for "Old cars" become obsolete and the skills are not here for the digital transformation?

SNPCivilWar... And a Monty Python Solution
The Cybernats used Monty Python's Life of Brian to highlight how hilarious the idea of the SNP being divided was.

I agreed with one newspaper that, based on the current trajectory, that the SNP and IndyRef resemble something out of a Monty Python sketch involving a pet shop and a parrot.

But a slightly less hilarious example for the SNP to follow, as well as a way to make the point of how ridiculous the current economy is and/or how simple the changes needed are (Note: Simple! Didn't say easy!) would be to look at a real life example of Monty Python's "Spare a Sheckle for an old ex-leper"

To give just one example of how simple Vs ridiculous this stuff is... £250 million for edu mental health Vs the kind of opportunities and self esteem that Livity has provided (As detailed in Be More Pirate) young people, some of whom call it "My YMCA/youth centre"

Regarding the extracts below I wonder if you were to change Leper to Neds, Neets, Scroungers, benefit cheats... and anyone that it's lucky enough to be part of the middle classes, if you'd get an idea of what being Lost in the Ghetto might be like for some people who have talent, but lack the opportunities.

"Baba came to believe that rich people were callous and willfully unaware of the desolation around them, whereas poor people, of necessity, were able to see.  

"Baba realised that, even though dapsone could cure most leprosy patients medically, it couldn't change their lives. A leprosy patient taking medicine was soon no longer contagious, but whatever awful damage had already been done - fingers and toes disfigured, eyebrows gone, collapsed nose, strange patches on the skin - marked him forever. Fear of leprosy was so great, and the signs of the disease so unmistakable, that even cured lepers were rejected by their families. Relatives of lepers were ostracized and unmarriagable, so to keep a leprosy patient at home was to sacrifice normal life for everyone else. In many villages, lepers were burned alive.. Even a cured leprosy patient faced a ruined existence: he couldn't work, he couldn't live with his family or even in his village, he had no choice but to beg. Thus, even after a cure for leprosy had been found, leper colonies were still necessary."

...If a person had lost 7 fingers, after all, he had 3 left, and there was a lot you could do with 3 fingers. A man could live without fingers, but not without self respect.

Baba applied to the state of Madhya Pradesh for land, and in 1951 was given 50 acres of wilderness - rocky scrub, with no water. He and his wife went to live there with their two tiny sons, six lepers, a cow, four dogs to protect them from wild animals, and foutreen rupees - nearly nothing. They built two shelters - four wooden sticks and a grass roof, no walls - one for Baba and his family, one for the lepers.

There were deadly snakes and scorpions and rats everywhere; when it rained, the rats and snakes came into the houses. Lepers would wake to discover the rats had eaten their insensate flesh while they slept. There were leopards and tigers and wild boars nearby in the forest. Tigers came in at night and snatched the dogs from the huts, one by one, but they did not take the two human babies... The first thing to do was dig a well. This took 6 weeks, digging every day. It was May, and 115 degrees out - hotter in the sun.

It was a measure of how terrible life outside was for lepers that they flocked to this hellish place - more than 50 came in the next 2 years. They dug more wells and cleared the land and grew crops for sale in the market. Most were desolate when they arrived, having been thrown out by their families and rejected by their friends, but work revived them. But the villagers nearby were afraid of catching leprosy and wouldn't buy them.

A few months into the colony being established international volunteers came from Sevagram, Gandhi's nearby ashram, to help construct a clinic and other buildings. The sight of dozens of Europeans living among the lepers in strikingly hygenic conditions persuaded the villagers that the vegetables were safe to eat. The acceptance of their vegtables transformed their economy: Now they could generate an income. Baba started a dairy, a spinning factory, and other workshops. He was determined that Anandwan should become self sufficient, and after 2 years, apart from sugar, oil, and salt, it was.

As soon as Anandwan was no longer desperately poor, Baba became restless. His ambition for 
Anandwan extended beyond industry: it was not enough for lepers to be physically cured but economically self sufficient, he thought; they must also be culturally stimulated. Anandwan was to become a model community, not a workhouse. He started a yearly cultural festival, to which he invited musicians, artist, philosophers, politicians and intellectuals. He built a theater and staged plays that went on until four in the morning. It was important that the place be beautiful - he believed that beauty was essential to human happiness. He built a garden and planted flowers everywhere.

And it was not enough that 
Anandwan do without charity: it would dispense charity. A school for the blind was needed in the area; Baba started one, a boarding school so that children could come from far away. Later, he started a school for the deaf... they built an orphanage. They built a home for the aged... They built a college.

Eventually, Anandwan sold so many goods that the government began imposing taxes. Baba "Felt very proud that the leprosy patients had become the object of tax!" Strangers Drowning P122-136

This is not an isolated example... Jane Jacobs and Andrew Mawson highlight similar examples of 'Unslumming' deprived areas.

IndyRef and If Tech Stories Did Politics
In my "Ideas for 2016 & 2019 Candidates document, written the day after #GE2015, I detailed on the first page where my interests lay in these special conditions that were created.

Through Baba's leprosy case study in Drowning Strangers I got evidence that this could have been possible as his friend Bhave

"walked across India, calling on landowners to give land to the poor - a mad idea that he pursued for several years with astonishing success, thanks partly to post-independence patriotism..."

Obviously the conditions for what I suggest on page 1 are now LONG gone and that trust needs to be rebuilt and a bit of hustle needed... and it will be needed if Mr Hepburn and his colleagues hope to keep their own jobs!!

The keys to Number 10 might depend on it... just as I highlight at the end of my SNP: From Proponent to Detractor post*

*Kids don't read that post!! Just scroll to the end... It's the kind of post that FE Ministers will lose their jobs because of... But that Cybernats use inappropriate job career damaging language all the time on social media? ...what does that tell you about The SNP and helping their own support base with their career prospects? #Team56 all the way baby! Fuck #The45 #The45Plus 100,000 members and those swearing about #IndyRef2 #ScotRef.

That's the impression you're giving off... the reason (As I see it?) one weekend in Sept 2014... The subject of my next post.

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