If local government is feeling the pinch, then you wouldn’t know it from looking at the Guardian jobs site today. There are 234 positions advertised, perhaps fewer than we’ve seen in the past, but many of those featured are posted by councils offering particularly hefty salaries for non-vital roles.
Central Bedfordshire Council, for example, are advertising for some Communication Manager ‘positions’ (they fail to state the exact number) on between £39,855 - £46,251, the London Borough of Southwark want a new ‘Community Participation Manager’ who can expect to earn £44,463 - £55,674 for interacting and engaging with ‘different communities’, and Marketing Birmingham – who receive £5m of funding from Birmingham City Council – are hiring for no fewer than three ‘Investment Development Managers’ on up to £65k+PRP.
This week’s non-job however was a toss-up between two less handsomely waged positions found on the jobsgopublic.com website, namely Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s ‘Skate Supervisors’ (and Skate Marshals!) who should be ‘experienced rollerskaters’ capable of assisting with ‘rollerskating activities’ (...) and this from Rochford District Council:
£24,646 to £26,276
Rochford Council has recently made huge steps forward in recycling and we are determined to keep the momentum going. We are therefore seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic team player, who can promote partnership working and work in a high pressure environment.
You will support the work of the Senior Recycling Officer by communicating with the general public, schools and other interested parties and encouraging public participation in recycling, waste minimisation and composting initiatives. Data inputting, contract supervision, partnership working and customer care activities will be part of a daily routine.
You will have a good standard of education, be computer literate (Microsoft Office), and possess the ability to gather and analyse information and to generate effective solutions to practical problems.
You must be able to demonstrate the best principles of customer care. A working knowledge of recycling would be desirable. You will hold a valid driving licence and have access to a vehicle”.
Okay, so maybe the Skate Supervisor should have won the non-job title, but at the very least they need to have a discernable skill and, on occasions, may even help prevent someone from breaking a leg. It is only ‘desirable’, however, that this recycling officer has any working knowledge of recycling whatsoever and – let’s face it – having an additional jobsworth ‘encouraging’ the people of Rochford to recycle is unlikely to make any sort of tangible impact on preventing anything.
It’s not as though this recycling officer is even collecting the recycling, or sorting the recycling or anything quite so practical. They’re analysing the recycling, and inputting data about recycling, driving around in a car or a van for undisclosed reasons and generally regurgitating what we’ve all heard a thousand times before about why it’s better if you chuck something in a different bin.
Also what’s striking about this vacancy it how low their expectations are considering the decent salary up for grabs. “Be computer literate and able to use Microsoft Office” - surely that’s within the capabilities of most people who’ve ever been acquainted with a computer? So really it should say ‘you should have used a computer’. And “Possess the ability to gather and analyse information” – another fairly basic expectation. Even if we’ve never done it before, most of us ‘possess the ability’.
So there you go, another job that's costing taxpayers (and let's not forget the supporting department and the Senior Recycling Officer mentioned...) and offering almost nothing in return.