This article in the Guardian somewhat concerned me.  Apparently some work programme asked a charity to provide a whole team of volunteers to help unemployed people with CVs.

My worry is that volunteers and volunteering are becoming commodified. Companies should’t be trying to make money out of volunteers and they shouldn’t be used to replace paid workers.

A lot of people volunteer in order to put something back into society. They help others and all they get is a nice warm glow! Then some volunteering is used partly to gain experience to help with getting into a particular career or progressing up the ladder.

Edinburgh Graduands

The growing trend however is that volunteering has become a necessary step to get any job. Unpaid internships are the thing for graduates. At best they are a way  for companies to get away without paying trainees with a paid job at the end and at worst there isn’t even a hope of a paid position.

Unemployed people face working for their benefits. Apparently 30 hours will “be enough to familiarise the unemployed with the world of work.” Now, to me, one of the key things about the “world of work” is getting paid! Bringing home an actual wage is part of what gives people pride in their work. If these people are working- pay them minimum wage.

With 2.57 million unemployed and only 462,000 vacancies there just isn’t a job for everyone. Those long term unemployed people will often find themselves bottom of the heap and being able to say they’ve been forced to work for free for a few weeks isn’t really going to improve their prospects.

Imagine you’re a teacher in some weird version of the 11 plus system. There are 5 places in the grammar school for your class of 25. Some of the kids in your class are a bit lazy so the headteacher says you have to make them all work harder- they should all be going to the grammar school! So you give them all the cane and  test results improve across the board. However there are still only 5 places in the grammar school!

There are not enough jobs and eventually people are going to get sick of volunteering without any hope of paid work.