Let’s start with the dry stuff: 2.5 million unemployed in the UK, still short of the 3 million hypothetical target. Number of vacancies stagnant. Long term unemployed on the rise. If you subscribe to the theory that employment lags economic recovery by about six months, then we shouldn’t see an improvement to job figures until the summer, which will only be reflected in statistics… exactly a year from now.
- It requires activity
- It imposes a time structure which in turns makes leisure time valuable
- It forces us to experience relationships beyond family and immediate neighbourhood
- It clarifies social status and identity
- It provides meaning through activities and achievements
None of these reasons require paid work or employment. In our economy, employment is equated with work. This helps explain why the unemployed often lose their social identity, their sense of purpose and their enjoyment of their free time – on top of losing income. This is turns explains the deep shame and loss of face that many of us experience when facing the dole queue. It doesn’t need to be so: voluntary work, a challenging training or degree, or developing a new venture from scratch, are all work but not employment. So the consequence is pretty clear: if you or one of your family members/ colleagues is likely to be out of work for a prolonged period, then identify an area of work quickly and launch into it fully. This will help your long-term resilience and allow thinking space to consider your nextemployment role. Thanks to University of Michigan’s Prof. Peterson for retrieving this important book from obscurity. In my next entry, I will look at the short-term steps that the unemployed can take to boost their confidence and short-term resilience.