Opinion

The side effect of George Osborne's cuts could mean misery for our interview rooms

6 min read

23 July 2015

While the chancellor's plans to merge national insurance with income tax, close the loop hole in civil service pay and further reduce the deficit makes sense, the government has provided a safe haven for education's chronic second raters.

Agree with him or not, George Osborne is talking some seriously sweeping reforms. Currently, his pen hovers over the merging of National Insurance with income tax, which would enable huge cuts in administration with only one government department dealing with the new version. Makes perfect sense to me. We would hardly charge our customers two different costs and bill them from two different accounts departments.

Nor can I argue with the idea that he is going to abolish the loop hole in civil service pay that is enabling so many to use their contractual agreements to avoid the overall pay freeze till 2010. It cannot be right that some should escape the freeze while others suffer.

Neither am I surprised by his claim that a further 40 per cent of cuts can be made in the next four years to deal with the government’s deficit. One would hope that this would clear out huge layers of duplicated administration and chronic inefficiency. If only it could also affect the tendering systems too, ridding them of such ridiculous amounts of box ticking and concentrating in the future on faster processed based more on commercial realities.

The entire government institution has provided a safe home for some of our education system’s chronic second raters. Now you might think by that I mean the frighteningly high 50 per cent who leave school without five basic GCSE’s. I do not. I am talking about an endemic army of well-educated, grey people who have ticked boxes to achieve educational results, ticked boxes to acquire a job ticking boxes for a living and are constitutionally so far removed from reality they are completely unable to think for themselves at all.

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We have all seen increasing numbers of these cross the interview threshold in recent times. During any initial chat, they will tell you how fed up they are with the uncertainty of their job prospects due to cuts, reviews of tender and so forth. They produce this as they would some terrible, yet unheard of disease that is prevalent in government funding only. Wake up! The rest of the world in business have been subject to performance review, job losses, or spending re-evaluations since inception. The majority of the rest of the world do not assume our employer is a bottomless pit of money.

These applicants will have earned higher salaries than their equivalent in the business world. Yet with a grey and faceless institution as an employer, there will be no experience of inspiration to go the extra mile. There is no interest in doing so. These applicants, if installed, will be the ones to clock in and clock out with an accuracy that would defy Big Ben.

But most frightening is the gap of what they deliver. The pace in an SME is that of a Formula One racing track compared to the bus lane of the civil service and its tentacles. We deliver in an hour what they will be looking pained to produce in a week.

Their work is a revelation. Supposedly intelligent folk appear unable to perform tasks that carry rudimentary levels of common sense and lack even the slightest power to think basic problems through for themselves.

Recent years have regularly seen the business world reject graduates in favour of more driven non grads, a very clear confirmation that those additional years in education deliver nothing that favours business at all. Michael Rake’s report last year reconfirmed this – finding businesses to need more emphasis on “team working, emotional maturity, empathy and other interpersonal skills” as importantly as the academic qualifications.

Sadly, from the ever changing world created by a multitude of educations secretaries, we are suffering from the output of decades of educational systems various that have consistently failed business. That in itself is bad enough. When you combine this educational failure with working experience in a government-influenced institution, you have – nine times out of ten – the sort of incapable, go slow, jobs-worth applicant with an over inflated sense of self-worth and absolutely no value to a fast moving business.

One product of Osborne’s cuts is sadly our interview rooms will be full of them.