Sorry, there is no vacancy

The illustration next to this article is poignant, funny, sad and hurtfully accurate.

By Bikram Vohra (Point of View)

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Published: Tue 24 Apr 2012, 9:10 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 3:29 PM

Clearly a take on the current global situation vis-à-vis the hypocritical element in selecting the best person for a job, it does underscore the single largest problem facing the youth of the world and the legacy being handed to them by the older generation. Before you read further, read the card.

The need for employment as a fundamental right is the ultimate goal and the world must strive to reach it. Whether it is the melt into a public rally or a student protest it is because the light at the end of the educational tunnel is universally very dim. On the one side parents are hard placed to pay the cost of the college fee and on the other there are no job guarantees when you throw your hat in the air at graduation. The famous job fairs in the US, for example have come to a halt. The recent revelation of student loans running into mini-fortunes that can take up to 30 years to pay off has shocked the American public. In large markets when skill set manufacturing comes in the form of millions of men and women clutching sweaty little cvs reeking of despair the odds on landing the right job as per qualifications is dimmed by nepotism, corruption and competition. One study suggests that as many as 70 per cent of aspirants lower their sights after the first round of frustrated interviews and then lower them again thereby settling for much less than their original goal. Survival becomes the precedent over everything else.

In China, according to Research fellow Yang Di the employment issue, resulted from economic system reform, industrial structure adjustment and technological innovation, remains a strenuous, arduous and pressing task for the Chinese government. Last calculated the unemployment rate had stayed at a steady 4.1 per cent but factored into numbers it runs into millions. The EU is over 10 per cent and likely to rise higher as employers tend to hunker down and reduce overheads, the first casualties being manpower. Those who duck the cut double up and do more just to get that paycheck. Germany is the lowest at 6.75 but is getting pulled back by drops in supply and demand across the EU. In Japan things are a little better but the spectre still exists. According to Kazushi Minami writing a World Bank sponsored report, “Japanese companies, in an attempt to enhance profitability, tend to prefer cutting salaries, shortening working time or encouraging job-sharing to just dismissing employees. This system has significantly contributed to not only Japan’s economy but also Japan’s society as a whole.”

Can this work for the rest of the world? Ideally, yes, it should. Not so ideally, the increase in retirement ages, the up in longevity, better medical treatment and a healthier lifestyle are paradoxically creating a bottleneck. In many of the developing nations experience is still preferred over youthful exuberance and conservatism wins the day.

But while we can argue statistics all the time let us look at the morality behind getting a job. Young people, armed with degrees, drenched with ambition and ideas march into this new hi tech world to find doors don’t open, they just slam. After weeks of being lied to, given the runaround and generally offered irrelevant hope they begin to falter. Where is that magical job offer? While it is true that the world does not owe you a living it is also true that the world does owe certain honesty. Has the job market per se become dishonest?

Spiritedscript, a website brings this issue to the fore: “Of course, employers are also guilty of lying in the ways everyone is socially conditioned to accept. They’re masters of the art of not giving a straight answer. Want that interview? Sure, they’ll call and let you know. By which they mean they won’t call. Looking for people to show initiative is all well and good, but don’t lie about your intent. If you want people to call you, don’t tell them you’re going to call them. Then, they also want to keep you in the dark about salaries, wages, and benefits. This creates another dance of dishonesty, usually giving the employer the power in this case. Since you don’t know what they pay everyone else, you have to guess. Guess too low, you get a job that pays you less than you’re worth. Guess too high, they’ll hire someone else. Shouldn’t we just lay out our expectations out front so everyone knows what we get out of the deal? Wouldn’t this be the sane way to do business? Just be honest.

Like the card says, “Why did you say there was no vacancy, when there was?” Echo answers why.

Bikram Vohra is Editorial Advisor at Khaleej Times. Write to him

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