Non jobs – What exactly are they?
Yesterday, a guest poster described in quite some detail what it was like to be the occupant of what Eric Pickles would describe as a ‘non-job’. It was a moving piece and one which I felt deserved some further research.
Although Mr Pickles and his colleagues have made relatively little effort to explain precisely what a non-job actually is (we do know that they’re not keen on ‘twitter tsars’) there have been rumblings in newspapers and on the internet.
Figures utilised by Bob Neill during a recent attack suggest that of the 2,907,000 people employed by local authorities in Britain 741,702 of them are not in traditional “front- line” jobs such as (according to the Telegraph) “those in education, social services, recreation, libraries, planning, environmental health, culture, heritage or trading standards.”
This is a lot of non-jobs. But maybe not that many; 741,702 staff is 25% of the total number. Out of this 25% we need to find all of the back office functions that are crucial to the running of any organisation, even a council. Within this we’re talking about legal, HR, finance, payroll, policy, research, communications (but only a small team?!) etc; these jobs could be described as the classic back office function.
Customer services, council tax collection and benefit calculation are probably easy to add to this list but I was finding it hard to believe that these jobs made up 25% of any council or that anyone in Government would really be upset by these staff being employed by our local councils.
So what is left? With my mind unable to get a better grip of where the rest of these ‘non-jobs’ came from I took a deep breath and typed ‘local government non job’ into Google.
The taxpayers alliance were (as you would expect) well mentioned but despite a extensive search on their website I couldn’t find the report they published in October 2010 which kick-started the DCLG’s non-job campaign.
However, thankfully (?!?) there is some rivalry in the ‘we hate the public sector’ brigade and the rival ‘tax abuser of the week’ website has published a definitive list of the non-jobs in the public sector.
I urge you all to have a look at this list because to be honest I hadn’t really grasped how many jobs fell into the ‘non job’ category.
Amongst the list I found an array of ‘proper’ jobs which were described as ‘non’. Amongst them (you really should see the full list to get a real understanding of the sanity or otherwise of this) are the following:
Adult’s Strategy & Performance Manager (Someone who is helping to work out how to deliver individual budgets and a new means of providing adult social care: something which is particularly important to even those upset by non-jobs)
Bristol City Council, Social Care Transformation Managers (As above)
CCTV Operator (Something the people really care about: CCTV cameras don’t operate themselves and don’t prevent crime on their own. The person operating them is the one able to call in the police and prevent the crimes etc)
Citizenship Officer (As in one of the people who helps provide the statutory ‘citizenship’ ceremonies and tests that ensure that immigrants are given the opportunity to become citizens. I can see how this might be a non-job but I’m pretty sure it is a statutory duty)
Community Safety Team Manager (Much like CCTV; I’d say that this is something the public really care about)
Democratic Services Officer (These are the people who manage council committees and ensure councillors are able to make their decisions)
Extended Schools Cluster Co-ordinator (Keeping schools open early and longer was a major policy for the last Government but was left to Local Government to implement)
Head of Older People Services (Oh, come on… Surely this can’t be called a non-job)
Information Governance Manager (Making sure councils keep all the information they are entrusted with safe. I can see how this would be misunderstood but if a lot of personal details were lost (think HMRC and the DVD with 20 million people’s info on it) people would be up in arms. These officers help this happen.)
Manager – Preventative and Universal Youth Services (Again, something to tackle crime… Prevention is not a non job surely?)
Young People’s Inclusion Officer (As above)
So what does this tell us?
Firstly, that most of the non-jobs are real jobs that really matter to people and second that the reason these jobs are considered to be ‘non’ is because they are difficult to understand (even for me).
People value the services they receive but it is difficult to get them to value the officers and managers who help to make those services work.