Non-job of the week

Marginally fewer public sector jobs advertised on the Guardian site this week, but nevertheless, a hearty 540 dominated by middle-management and executive positions.


Runner-up this week goes to an advertisement from the DWP for a non-executive position on the Healthy and Safety Executive, earning a cool £16,371 for “up to” 30 days per year. So a starting fee of almost £550 per day of head-scratching and analysing new ways of over-complicating the lives of employers? Nice work if you can get it…Nj4


First place however must go to Lambeth Council who’ve taken out an advert for “five exceptional candidates” for the post of Locality Play Officers, Project Manager – Play Pathfinder and…:


Play Strategy Manager
 £37,851 - £40,506 pa


These are exciting times for play in Lambeth. With a strong historical commitment to children's play, we manage the largest Adventure Playground provision in the UK. In 2007, we launched our first Play Strategy, highlighting our ten-year vision for play. We have since secured over £3.5 million of external funding, including Play Pathfinder status, to support the local play offer. Do you have the drive and commitment to join the Play and Sports Unit, working with our key partners to develop a world-class play provision for children and young people in Lambeth?”


Just to mitigate against any backlash here, no one is suggesting for a second that children shouldn’t have play provision and that we should do away with parks and adventure playgrounds – we all know they serve their purpose, but this is a prime example of government turning something primal, natural, common-or-garden into some obscure discipline or genre that requires strategy, squadrons of officers and consultants, and ultimately an unnecessarily huge wodge of taxpayers' cash to back it up. Has play ever needed a strategist before now?


Without trying to prompt a violin solo, didn’t it used to be that when your imagination failed you, you opted for the local park and its climbing frame or monkey bars? Or failing that (if your luck was in) pop over to a nearby ‘Jungle Gyms’-type indoor set-up? It always seemed to suffice, but now we have teams of adults on impressive salaries trying to dream-up and implement new ways for children to play.


If local government co-ordinates play, then all of a sudden it becomes costly, bureaucratic and regulated. And we can be sure that where the Play Strategy Manager begins their work, there will soon be a Play Strategy Assistant or a Deputy Play Director jumping on board. We might not yet be bankrolling the salaries for officers responsible for ‘slides and smiles’ just yet, but if a facility first invented in 2007 is already attracting five new additional positions, it’s a fair bet that this will snowball.

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