The news is in. The economy officially grew by 0.8% in the first quarter of 2014 (huzzah! All hail George Osborne!). The government has confirmed that it will withhold JSA from anyone who has been unemployed for more than two years. This seems perfectly reasonable, if you consider how much revenue all the privatized bus and train companies have lost, in the potential ticket sales from feckless scroungers going in to the job centre only once every two weeks.
Jobseekers will also be obliged to take job offers with zero-hours contracts, lest they feel the righteous fury of the taxpayer and the employed, and thereby lose their precious £56 per week. The solution? Get a job, scum. And why not get a job with a company which can soak up all of you benefits-subsisting job seekers: Costa.
There are now so many jobs at Costa that surely the only reason anyone could have for not being employed is an inexplicable aversion to lattes. Even you, proud graduates, should find a low-paid caffeine distribution function, instead of blaming the government for your dire predicament of being unemployed.
Unlike all the job seekers with their heads in the clouds, I have submitted to the call of the coalition, and have forsaken all hopes of a quick ascension on the graduate career ladder. I am a graduate, and I am a Costa Coffee Barista. I am here to guide you through the world of under-employment, in the hopes that you shall answer the call of Employment Minister Esther McVey, and follow in my footsteps.
I wanted to get off the JSA. Not because I found the £56 per week insufficient or found the fortnightly meetings demeaning, not that at all. I was ashamed to be subsisting on the tax-payer, an evil visited on us by socialists and beard-stroking intellectuals. I heard that vacancies would soon be opening up at one of the Costas in town, First I undertook a trial shift which went well. Then, I waited for the phone call, which came two days later.
It went something like this:
“Hello? Yes, this is the manager, we thought you did very well on your trial shift, and we’d like to give you the job.”
“Woohoo! When do I start?”
“The end of the week.”
The next day:
“Hello? This is the manager at Costa. I’m afraid we made a mistake. We already hired someone else for the position I called you about yesterday. Very sorry. Go away and live your miserable little life somewhere far from my sight, you puny worm.”
The last part may have been distorted in my memory: I can’t imagine any employer saying something like that. I was disappointed that I had not proven myself worthy to leave the benefits system. But, undeterred, I left a message with the manager, begging to know if something came up. They called again a week later. I now had an honest-to-God job, three years after starting university, on an hourly wage just over the legal minimum, but one which pays about as much in one shift as JSA pays in a week. Why did I not tell them to stuff their job up their metaphorical coffee grinder? I wanted to get off JSA, I wanted to pay off my student overdraft and learn to drive, so I started the following Friday.
Anyone who wants a low-paid job with Costa or similar need only swallow their pride and be willing to beg for a job. There are plenty going for those with the right experience: I must admit that we often get inadequate individuals coming into our store asking about vacancies. Sadly, most of their CV’s sit on a shelf for several months before being forgotten about and thrown away. Most of these people are woefully under-qualified for a job pouring liquids from one container to another: degrees in art and business, work experience at TV production studios, fashion retailers and so on, all turn up sooner or later. Yet none of these people seem to understand, that if you don’t have several years of experience in a public-facing role interacting with customers, then you’re just not worthy.
Still, none of that should be a barrier to getting a job: I got a job with Costa, so I can only conclude that people choose to not have the right experience. Although it actually wasn’t that easy for me; but that’s obviously down to bad luck and my own incompetence, and is not due to any systematic flaw in the jobs market or professional incompetency on the part of employers, anywhere, ever. It’s all the jobseekers fault. Forever. Praise Cameron that I’m no longer one of them.