With a surfeit of elections upon us, it seems hard to avoid the business of politics and this week has been no exception. Cyrenians held a breakfast conversation on that most political of subjects on Monday this week: employabilty. Around 50 people gathered for Danish pastries (never understood why we serve these as breakfast items!) frittatas (a bit more acceptable for breakfast) and fruit (just to make us feel healthy after the pastries…!) and to explore the barriers many face on the journey to employment.
In true Cyrenians fashion we set it in the context of voices from those we journey with; 7 short videos of interviews with folk who have been on the Cyrenians employability journey. All of them, in a variety of different ways expressed the view that what was key for them on their journey into employment was having the support which focused not in the outcome of a job, but on them as people. As is so often the case, what brings success was not the achievement for which we as Cyrenians are paid but the way the journey was taken and the Cyrenians values of respect, compassion and integrity which were lived out. It was in that experience that employment became a possibility, an achievable goal, a result within their grasp.
The trouble is, the things that drive the politics behind the programmes we deliver are rarely “people” focused. The outcomes for which we are paid are not the place in which real success is to be found. What works is the trusted relationships we create, that’s where the capacity for sustainability of employment is nourished and grown. So that’s what we should be called to account for.
There were some hints on that direction from the presentation by Phil Ford, Regional Skill Planning Lead for Skills Development Scotland. He did make clear reference to a “whole person approach” in the new Government employability programmes, which we very much welcome. But until we as citizens use the same language to call politicians to account, the definitions of success will be what can be counted not what is needed.
I know it’s probably not the catchiest slogan but this election I challenge you to say to politicians “will you support organisations who can build trusted relationships” rather than how “many folk will you get jobs” or even “how many jobs will you create”. Until we ask politicians to deliver what is really needed rather than what they can count, we’ll always be disappointed and elections will continue to be something we fear not something where democracy is celebrated.
25 April 2017