Anyone who has experienced unemployment – either themselves or in their family – knows how tough it is. The first few weeks are bearable, but then desperation gradually sets in. As rejection letters pile up, optimism breaks down.
The human costs of unemployment and idleness are family breakdown, mental illness, depression and crime. These costs go way beyond the financial costs, which capture only a small proportion of the impact.
Ultimately, financial costs are only measured in money, which is considerably less important than the emotional and personal trauma associated with being told by someone else that you are no longer wanted.
If you want to see the real effect on our society of this entirely homemade recession, don’t talk to an economist, talk to a local GP. My cousin is a doctor in a commuter town and she has been shocked by the change in the type of people now coming to her clinic.
In the past, it was usually the old and very young queuing up to see the local doctor. Now she is inundated with young men and women in their 30s and 40s who have just lost their jobs and are suffering from depression. They can’t cope, can’t sleep and don’t know which way to turn.
She knows full well that medicine won’t solve the underlying cause.
This weekend, Ireland is home to thousands of wounded people who have been told that they are redundant .Their self-worth has been reduced to a measly severance cheque, a squeeze of the shoulder and an insincere pep talk about the needs of the company in the current climate.
These are real people and they are humiliated and frightened. In some cases, they are in mid-career, they have huge experience, contacts and networks. Yet they are being told they won’t work again because they are too expensive or are ‘overqualified for the job’.
Many don’t have the energy to face the enormous effort needed to start again on their own. Their confidence is shot. As a result, they will hoard their savings and won’t have the courage to throw their precious nest-egg into a new venture.
They will shrink from risk and become the walking casualties of the depression. We will see these soon-to-be-middle-aged zombies, the ‘might have beens’, walking around our towns or glued to afternoon TV, wasting away. Yet they have so much to offer. If only we could find away of using their years of experience constructively.
At the other end of the scale, we have thousands of young people, ambitious graduates and school leavers, who can’t find a job. One in three young men is on the dole, but they have everything to offer. This is the generation of Irish people who have nothing to fear; they have buckets of energy and can set up on their own, creating businesses from ideas.
But how will they commercialise this raw enthusiasm? What they have in energy, they lack in experience. What they have in vision, they lack in contacts, and what they have in stamina and technological savvy, they lack in business nous and sales smarts. This is where the older people come in .Would it be possible to fuse together the two generations, the recently redundant middle-aged and the hugely robust twenty somethings?
It is crucial to realise that, although it feels as if we in Ireland are on our own, plenty of other countries have gone through crises and come out the far side.
Take Argentina, a country I have visited a number of times. In 2001,Argentina suffered a dreadful depression. The following year, unemployment skyrocketed and, with no jobs around, young people were forced to set up their own small businesses to survive. These small businesses sprang up all over the place and, because the local economy was in tatters, the companies had to export to survive.
Precisely, the same will be the case in Ireland. It is small businesses employing a few people that will drag the country out of recession. This is always the way. In Argentina in 2003, these embryonic companies didn’t know where to start. How could they? For most, this was their first venture. They knew nothing about marketing or banking and neither did they have contacts.
At the same time, thousands of middle aged executives with tens of thousands of hours’ experience were being laid off every day. They were destined for the scrap heap.
At the time, a friend of mine was brought in to be the chief of cabinet of Argentina’s finance ministry. He was 35 years old at the time and many of his friends had given up and were emigrating to Spain.
He told mehe spent nights with his head in his hands trying to figure out what to do when everyone was telling him it was over for the country. Then he came up with the idea of a state-sponsored ‘match-making’ service to match ‘young companies with old heads’. To do this, the Argentinian finance ministry used a website which matched old experience with young companies. You can visit it here (www.experienciapyme.mp.gba.gov.ar).
The new start-up companies interviewed the old, recently-redundant executives. The state, instead of paying benefit, paid a much-reduced salary to the older guys, who got some small equity in the new companies. The scheme worked amazingly well. Thousands of companies were set up and thousands of people went back to work.
Most crucially, the older heads contributed enormously to the success of the new companies with their knowledge and experience. Their contacts with international counterparts and multinational systems of management and production were invaluable. Yet, had it not been for this initiative, this invaluable resource would have been lost between the ears of thousands of people, never to be used productively again.
Many middle-aged executives even went back to work for nothing and were reinvigorated. They acted as custodians for the new companies that dragged Argentina out of the depression. In addition, thousands of companies were saved from making the elementary mistakes that tend to scupper start-ups, because such potential mistakes were often spotted by those who had been in business for years.
Crucially, the older heads were not hands-off consultants. They worked for the new companies. If the relationship was working, after five months, the new companies started to pay their wages in full and the state stepped out, having done its match making job.
This is a perfect example of how a simple idea can translate into a fantastic outcome and of how using our noggins in the depression can transform a crisis into an opportunity. The key now for all of us is not to despair, but rather to focus on using our skills positively.
This means active government intervention in the labour market to ensure that our doctors don’t become the last line of defence against unemployment.
Great idea David, why don’t you submit it on the YOUR COUNTRY YOUR CALL website, win yourself â‚¬100,000 plus â‚¬500,000 to set-up the scheme.
David: Great article and very timely. The real tragedy of this situation is that FAS made no preparation for dealing with higher unemployment, although the trend has been apparent for at least two years. While the top management was living high on the hog, using fantasies of high tech involvement with NASA as an excuse for luxury trips to Florida, complete with expensive visits to hairdressers, etc., it seems that nobody was minding the shop. You have suggested older mentors for fledgling businesses, others have suggested broadband hubs as nurseries for ambition. FAS itself seems to have no national plans.… Read more »
A whole lot of assumptions in there. Will executives work for free, will anyone work for Free. Do people have nesteggs, Will Banks release money to start up, Im not sure about any of these. But one thing Im sure of there is a whole lot of talk about what we should do and not a whole lot of doing. Action needed and needed now.
Great article. Yes, people will do all sorts of things when the chips are down as long as the state doesn’t penalise them. I second the YCYC idea — this is the sort of idea you WANT the gubmint to steal.
I could swear I read this article before. Am I going mad?
Great idea David but there’s no way Calamity would go for it. I know it sounds daft but I have the impression the government is under orders not to create jobs and not to get the economy going. The EU calling the shots on this one i’m afraid, and we are the guinea piigs for a new world order. Rothschilds are directing the EU and pretty soon all water supplies will be privatised and literal droughts rather than economic ones will be the order of the day. What we need is to bring down the whole political system in Europe… Read more »
Another dose of basic common sense from a socially responsible economist. It’s sad that David has to occupy his time writing up something as fundamental as this when you consider the echelons, battalions of fools, entrusted to business development in this country.
But a ray of hope glimmers. Private enterprise through the seedbed centres are actually doing something. though not exactly as David suggests.
We have an employment agency with a budget of â‚¬1 billion and look what happens. We have a Minister and a Department for Enterprise, Trade and E-M-P-L-O-Y-M-E-N-T and look what happens, they refuse to meet people who want to create jobs!! We know what happens to good ideas, it is the system and the culture that has to change, for that to happen, unfortunately, things, as in Argentina, have to get a lot rougher……….and even then there is no guarantee that the power elite will give way. At the very least we need this government to fall (hopefully not too… Read more »
Excellent idea. Send our bright entreprenuers to Argentina – where they will learn how to do business in a transparent and honest manner. Or even better, send them to Japan or Singapore. The problem with the old codgers running Irish business, is that they do not understand business. I have an alternative idea. Let the young entrepreneurs start without any advice from the failed management ethos that got us into this mess. Young entrepreneurs may need mentors. The problem is that suitable mentors are few and far between. In fact suitable mentors are scarce enough. Personally, I would never have… Read more »
It is now the time more than ever to realise that money is just an agreement, a tool! and hopefully very soon in generations to come a much unecessary and inhibiting one. Money doesn’t sustain us. The three basic factors of clean air,clean water and arable land and the intelligent managment of the earths resources. These words are not mine but the obvious and openly accessable words of a man you’ll never even heard of,but your going to here of him Now. His name is Jacque Fresco, an extraordinary man in his early 90s! A child of the Great Depression.… Read more »
David, You are describing the daily routine of many people that I know and I myself are among them, now on the dole for the past year ,I am not in receipt of any social welfare allowances.presuminably I must first spend all of my savings before I can qualify for the jobseekers allowance. This after having worked for the past 30 years, and paid all my taxes and having employed up to 12 people at a time (full time) last year (January) I went down to the local dole office I had the indignity of having to stand out in… Read more »
Encrypting Time : This article by David in my words is about true banking because I believe that what he is suggesting is that we empower ourselves with the experience of a old time with the energy of a new time .This is not about money .When I read the folowing it reminded me about how the generations in a time period of babylon would communicate and why David choses selective words in his message : ‘What they have in energy, they lack in experience. What they have in vision, they lack in contacts, and what they have in stamina… Read more »
machholz – I admire your true spirit and I believe in hope and for you too .As a typical accountant may I ask you what kind of business did you originally have ?
David you have an uncanny knack of reading my mind. Below is an article I wrote, for therapy mainly, about a year ago but which I was too afraid to put on my website. I want to post it here instead becasue I believe it might help someone out there right now, today. I have been unemployed for years, went for interviews locally after graduation and could not get a job for love not money. I have been through all the emotions, been to the doc, did all the self analysis and do you know what? It gave me real… Read more »
Imagine a Corporate Vision like this… “Building a profitable and socially responsible financial institution focused on Markets and Businesses with growth potential, thereby assisting BRAC and stakeholders build a “just, enlightened, healthy, democratic and poverty free Bangladesh”. http://www.bracbank.com/company_profile.php This NGO is an example of what can be done to build value from a very low base. Surely ireland can do similar and more rapidly. This is not about money but organisation. Nothing else. Reality is that the government here will just close you down if you try and be formally honest. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before… Read more »
I am a redundant senior executive following up on two business opportunities. I have extensive business experience but basic IT skills. The idea of matching experienced business people with dynamic young people with the right attitude is excellent. I would be interested in linking up with any young people who have IT skills particularly in the area of website development and ecommerce to help me develop my own ideas. I would also be interested in linking up with young entrepreneurs to help them develop their ideas. There must be numerous people out there in the same position
Folks, have a look at this, if you have the stomach for it, after your dinner: Aengus Fawning ‘interviews’ Brian Lenihan Published March 7, 2010 Media Criticism Leave a Comment Fawning: “The iron has ent-ered [sic] Brian Lenihan’s soul. On the surface, he is the charming, engaging, gracious Lenihan we know, but there is a new steel in his make-up, a distinct impatience to get things done. One senses that he has a shorter fuse these days with banks, bureaucracy, public sector work-to-rule, and with rich men, bailed out by Nama, who are continuing to live like lords. Lenihan in… Read more »
As I sat down on sunday reading the papers my blood was rising with the hoplessness of it all. I am (usually) an optimistic person who has a lot to offer and have an idea for a simple enough project to push local crafts where I live, plus I have the tech-ability to do it cheaply- however, I do not have the time or any money to put into it – so I have met with the local enterprise board who offer grants for various things specifically export orientated( my idea would include selling overseas) however, apparently retail ( as… Read more »
Martin Cullen to make a statement at 7.30pm http://pie.ly/d3wWgj
Folks, Martin Cullen has resigned from the Cabinet and the Dail on health grounds.
Generation GAP comes to mind.
Babyboomers OPPRESSION of Generation X a massive massive massive story YET to be told and jam packed with movie plot lines and villains and a great artist who emerges from imprisonment ‘count of monte cristo’ style and wins the day.
That said i doubt very much the idea fixe of yours in Article will ever get of the ground in a country like ours which is a free market rigged to such an extent its transformed this once delightful isle of ours into an open gulag state.
Yes David, it is tough. I’m 4 months unemployed now, but hoping on good news from an interview i attended in the uk recently. I had a look at the fas website today for vacancies and one caught my eye JB535068 – a civil engineer required in Limerick. I clicked on it a few times but nothing happened. I rang FAS, asked them for info about it – was told the info which is normally published was withheld by request of the client. I told her I was suitably qualified and genuinely interested. Then she gave me a contact name,… Read more »
David, great article, although you’ve touched on it before. I think that I responded then, that I worked in such an arrangement when I started on my own. Experience with big companies can give you a lot of know how about a sector, but it doesn’t prepare you for working from the kitchen table. At that level, the long hours can narrow your horizon and that’s where the help of an older experienced executive becomes necessary to maintain an overview and achieve goals. I would recommend it to any young start up. I don’t know if it’s possible to set… Read more »
Great article David, I agree with everything you said. I have been working with people in Longford who never benefitted from the Celtic Tiger. Now many more people are going to end up on the scrap heap. However its not all about money. Its about dignity and respect for one another no matter who we are. I work in a community development project. But i will most likey be out of a job at the end of the year as the CDPs are being squeezed out. Nevertheless I plan to continue doing what I was doing on a voluntary basis… Read more »
Folks, Cullen resignation letter in full, below (first, a Question: what do you think he means by “a date of your chosing in the context of other matters……”???
Hi Guys, Thank to all who sent their encouraging postings, apart from the entire negative experiences I have a lot of new and inventive ideas for web based business .I seem to get these ideas all the time, I would happily share and even give them away to anybody that is interested in the web and has IT experience I have a new business idea starting in two months time and it will grab the media headlines. My point is even in all this gloom there is new opportunities opening up all over the place My idea of the unemployed… Read more »
Some of us lucky enough to have the internet to keep us from going bananas altogether. /b>Internet connection should be free for low income earners, social welfare recipients, etc. Like free bus passes for OAPs and so on. But I am sure there will be extra tax on the internet like a TV license, water charges, etc.
Methinks some Machiavellian hybrid back from colonised Creole shores is messing with the ‘sticking pins in the voodoo dolly’ routine……….
Why else could our Cabinet me so affected? Have they risen to such heights that they have angered the very gods?
YCYC comment above managed to intice another new poster on to fix any mis understanding on YCYC integrity.
Now, for all the YCYC jingoism on calling to arms the citizens of this country to ‘get thinking’ i ask the following question.
Why put disabled people in the ad on RTE??
Anytime this ad comes on i find it reprehensible that a disabled citizen of this country has been hired in such a cynical and insidious fashion and as a citizen of Ireland I demand this ad is immediately pulled from airing.
Salvation in bright ideas: How ’bout this one from Angela Merkel? Launch a European Monetary Fund detached from the ECB that issues bonds in Euros. http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE62750Q20100308 Clemens Fuest, who chairs Germany’s finance ministry’s technical advisory committee, said the fund would make sense only if it permitted states to go bust. “Such a fund must provide for an insolvency procedure for countries,” he told Reuters. “Federalists in the EU like the idea of the fund, since it would probably mean closer integration of its members,” one EU diplomat said. So the European F-Word chef is a super-state that will roast the… Read more »
David, I remember Holland during the crisis in 80’s. Lots of business ideas came off the ground. Postal strikes led to courier businesses sprouting all over the place, bin men strikes led to private waste collectors, strikes among public workers working on park maintenance led to the council selling off pieces of land to adjoining properties. Yes, there were Lots of “casualties of the depression” but that was due to the spoiled nature of the Dutch, which you don’t easily see find in Ireland. I came to Ireland in 1990 and to my surprise depression wasn’t an issue at all… Read more »
I’ve not read most of the comments, so sorry if I’ve missed something. Screw this. I’ve been thinking about the same thing for nearly two years. I know how it can be done, I know where it would be most effective and I have a pretty good idea who could/should be involved. More on this later. Its going to YCYC. Some of you may know I am highly suspicious of the thing, not because of any particular suspicion over motives (irrelevant!) but because they have left it so vague and open and they have IP terms that are extremely peculiar.… Read more »
Liam, you know what we are doing. Let’s try?
Heard a cool idea from David Grosse(hope I got spelling), Centre for European Policy Standards. Appears likelihood this will come to pass as it can be done under existing rules. Using current Treaty Rules on ‘Enhanced Cooperation’ to create an EMF fund similar to Washington’s IMF for member bailouts. All Eurozone countries would contribute, but here’s the cool part, those with the greatest contributions would come from countries with greatest balance of payment difficulties.- Good carrot and stick approach there! Just made my YCYC contribution, BuildIreland last sentence I guess thought inspired by D’s article. Might inspire someone else to… Read more »
@Paul Divers, post 14. I strongly disagree with the sentiment that we are not a nation of inventors, quite the contrary. The real problem here is that we are a nation ruled by begrudgers. Having “dealt” with Enterprise Ireland and the local Enterprise Board it is quite clear that they do not have the expertise or resources to help launch start-ups. When we have representatives of EI calling themselves “the front door of finance” after arriving 40 minutes late for a meeting with no explanation offered, then we have serious fundamental problems with the entrenched mindset running these “sham” support… Read more »
Hi David, Its always a good idea to match experience with enthusiasm and modern skills, and there is no reason why the Argentine scheme could not be duplicated here. (I also recall you having written about it before). One catch I have found is that the match can be hard to set-up, as both parties can feel they are best to do it on their own. I have found that when assisting young fledgling companies only for them to ignore advice and then fail after a few years. Its not easy to have a success story and will depend on… Read more »
In Argentina, 1 in 3 of the population is working and inflation is running @ 15%.Hardly a role model, short term bursts of growth have continually created a lobsided economy in terms of income distribution, balance of payments problems etc.Seeing as they have been independent for 200 years, it is a damning indictment of the movers and shakers in Pumaland-hence the constant need to divert attention to regaining the Falklands, similar to the Irish political establishment’s obsession with Ulster.
Just wondering is it that we need new ideas – or that we just need to scrap the prevailing ideas – about how to conduct business in Ireland ? It seems that any argument about changing anything in Ireland gets hijacked into becomming a left right debate that ends up pure silly. The real problem is the pervasive deceit and centralization in Irish society and economics. No argument is conducted honestly. And is this search for new ideas, not a denial of the fact that Ireland has poor cost competitiveness. Bright Idea number 1. End the Partnership Method of running… Read more »
BoI is down 6% this morning. AIB down 4%. Other prominent shares also down. I was expecting the news that Martin Cullen would no longer be in charge of a state department would drive shares up !!! Cullen’s resignation means that a reduced government ability to shove through badly thought out legistlation (it get labelled as “unpopular” by the establishment). NAMA is not going to be as decisively implemented as was previous presumed. And the Duopoly are the two main beneficiaries. In a separate incident we have a millionaire construction tycoon have a swell time in the sun, while his… Read more »
One of the advantages of having your private sector organization taken over by the state, is that you are able to have Rody Molloy style golden parachutes.
Or maybe this was decided on the basis of merit ?
Tow The Line – I saw Jim Behan on the show last night with Pat Kenny and he made a great presense in what he said .
Did you know that this St Patricks Day w/e we will have no MOD in our country .Should we be worried?
There is alot of ducking and diving going on here. The fact is we did well while we were borrowing and living on other peoples money and we got fat on debt and indeed lazy. Now we have to repay the debt and the only way to do this is to work it off. I don’t see this work ethic anywhere in Ireland , David is just whistling in the wind nobody wants to get off their fat arse and work. The public service is non productive and now the strikes will instill this in their outlook. I feel the… Read more »
paddyjones – captain kirk calling ‘lets go to where no man has gone before ‘ – please fasten your seat belts , be ready for take off .
David, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read this article… The idea that people who have been made redundant, who are now unemployed, are all of a sudden cut from the same cloth as people who start up businesses, is just laughable… As for the supposedly “elder and wiser” executives that we should apparently be marrying up with the young & naive “go getter graduates”, how on earth can it be assumed that these people, have the kind of abilities that are required to start and run a business operation??? Many of these folks smarmed their… Read more »
Is there any hope for this country when these are the type of people we allow in on cock and bull stories.
Those in custody are originally from Morocco and Yemen, but it is understood they all have refugee status and are legally in the country.
David , just a comment A fantastic article but there is a slight problem and that problem lies in the difference between Argentinia and Ireland The attitude of the people Ireland towards work and their belief in themselves and what they can do is lacking The attitude ” As sure what can we do ? ” is extremely prevelant and even if somebody was to show some inittiave the begrudgers would get going and say ” ah dont be foolin yourself lad , what the hell can you do to change anything” It seems that the attitute here is ”… Read more »
NNTaleb today on twitter twitted this tweet.
‘ the difference between Goldman sachs and the mafia: GS has a better legal-regulatory expertise; but the mafia understands public opinion.’
Daraghd at 44 hits on a raw nerve and strikes gold.
Irish society is like any other in that it comprises of loosers, winners, morons, intelligence, dunces and gobs1tes and plonkers and dopes and fools and idiots and sheep and mislead and sly foxes and rapists and greedy bast@rds and so on and alorra of it is down to laizy itis and not wanting to grow up.
It is not a bad idea, except that a lot of our so called business leaders are also “undertakers” – people whose incompetence, inexperience, lack of business acumen and sheer arrogance has effectively destroyed the economy. Not everybody being laid off is some high flier with great experience, a solid education and a sharp mind, lots of them are ineffective. I see my colleagues at work – like spoilt children – demanding, lazy, too stupid in some cases to take advantage now of the good educational opportunities out there. They expect 40k a year for a leaving cert and 2… Read more »
RTE 6:1 News BCowen interview.
Now I could be mistaken but it looked very much like BCOWEN had an earpiece giving him the answers in the interview.