George Osborne, says he is committed to full employment. Well, that is good news, except for the simple fact that he omitted to quantify what exactly he meant by “full employment”.
We are in the early stages of a drawn-out election campaign, and politicians are going to make all sorts of promises as they try to win our votes. Sadly, though, the majority of these will be generalisations rather than specific commitments.
In an ideal world, it wold be very nice if everybody had a job, but this is just not possible. For a start there is an unfortunate section of society that suffers from all sorts of forms of ill health which precludes them from work.
Secondly, there is another section of the population that does not have any intention of getting a job if they can possibly avoid it. They wish to be kept by the state – you and me.
Thirdly, there is another tranche that would like to work, but find that they are better off financially on the dole. Government says that it is addressing this problem, and it will be interesting to see their proposals for the future.
Sadly, at the moment, there are a lot of prospective employees who would love to have a job, but none to suit their skills and abilities are available. One of the reasons for this is that it is very costly to an employer to take on staff, and often even more expensive to dispense with their services should work levels take a tumble.
This is one area that all political parties should take a close look at, for such expenses have to be factored into the prices of the goods and services being provided.
We live and work in a global marketplace, in which competition is fierce, so to win business, costs have to be very closely monitored.
George Osborne is not helping his cause by jacking up the minimum wage by three per cent at a time when he is pegging back public service workers to just one per cent, for all increases trigger off additional costs in terms of National Insurance and pensions.
Realistically, the lowest level of unemployment is likely to be five per cent at best, compared to the latest figure of 7.2 per cent.
* Russell Luckock is chairman of pressings firm AE Harris