Thursday 29 January 2009

When is a job not a job?

According to the front-page story in this week's "Carmarthen Journal", (the story appears not to be in their online version, so no link) a company in Cynwyl Elfed has been advertising through Jobcentre for 'webcam performers'. The job description goes on to say that the successful applicants would have to be nude or semi-nude whilst performing in front of the webcam in response to customers' fantasies.

The image of people queuing up in Cynwyl Elfed to display their all is an interesting one, but as the story goes on to say, it isn't quite that simple. The company concerned is an introduction service, "which may introduce people to webcam work amongst other things".

It's up to individuals, of course, to decide whether this is the sort of activity in which they wish to engage in order to earn their daily crust, and since it can apparently be done entirely in the comfort of their own homes, I suppose there may even be some people in Cynwyl Elfed who decide to offer their services.

There are three things that concern me about this, however.

Firstly, it appears that there aren't really any 'jobs' at all on offer, merely an opportunity to go onto a register on the off-chance that there may be a 'job' at some point in the future. A Jobcentre spokesperson defended the advert by saying that they have a duty to advertise any legal jobs. Maybe, but I'm not actually convinced that these are 'jobs' at all.

Secondly, is this really what Jobcentres should be offering what are likely to be increasing numbers of increasingly desperate unemployed people? There may well be no obligation on the jobless to apply, but there is a real danger here that vulnerable people are going to be exploited, and that it will appear that the government is in some way approving that.

And finally, in this age of lies, damned lies and government statistics, are these 'jobs' being counted when government spokespersons tell us that there's plenty of work available at local Jobcentres?

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