Review – Colin Crooks talk in PM’s constituency

Colin CrooksTree Shepherd’s Colin Crooks recently gave a talk in the Prime Minister’s constituency. The PM unfortunately couldn’t make it, but the local press were there. The review below was published in the Chipping Norton News.

A ‘million jobs’ in Chippy

‘How to Make a Million Jobs’ is a book by social entrepreneur Colin Crooks, who came to Chipping Norton’s Jaffé & Neale in January and spoke with conviction. Colin has led social enterprises that recycle paper and refurbish office furniture, bikes, computers and electrical equipment for resale. He drew heavily on personal experiences of employing people who lacked basic literacy and numeracy skills and were unemployed with no experience of working, including ex-prisoners. All were trapped in the cycle of deprivation that can include poverty, ill health, family breakdown, substance abuse, poor environment, criminality, homelessness, violence and social breakdown. Colin believes that worklessness, which leads to a feeling of worthlessness, is at the heart of this cycle. He told several moving stories of individuals, who had lost all hope, had been able to transform their lives through what he terms ‘patient employment’, i.e. where the employer invests time in the individual and provides bespoke on-the-job training where its purpose is clear and related to employment progression.

The book shows that the number of people of economically active age in the UK who are un- or under-employed is actually around 6.5 million: far higher than official figures. Various government initiatives have failed to create jobs for the most needy and, he says, money is siphoned off by intermediaries. Similarly, private sector development, such as Canary Wharf and Salford Quays, has not benefited the low skilled unemployed. Colin’s challenge to us, and government, is to start by creating 1,000 new jobs in the 1,000 most deprived communities in the UK (hence the million jobs). He says this can be achieved by redirecting funds from existing Government schemes direct to employers, establishing Social Enterprise Zones or supporting local enterprise in area-based initiatives. He suggests, for example, that recycling is not only a sustainable but also a labour-intensive sector; that local sourcing of food, services and construction should be favoured because the local multiplier effect benefits the local economy; that private and public sector organisations should set associated targets. A book very much in Schumacher’s ‘Small is Beautiful’ vein, of immediate relevance to society today, it is a challenging but uplifting read.

Thanks again to Chipping Norton News for providing the review!