Amongst many other aspects of life, living in a differently changing world, my experiences with work is promoting some reflecting.
I have undertaken a number of different roles across the past three years, effectively/largely transitioning away from the university sector. I have been fortunate that these roles have all focussed on making a difference, with many being community-oriented, and in many ways taking a trauma informed approach to change.
I was engaged by an inter-government department project, which was my first role in and around the public sector (I view this quite differently to education in a number of ways). I had always thought that to work in the public sector, one needed to have a specfic and high-level skill set and capacity. The project itself was focussed on different perspectives of risk in the ‘criminal justice’ system, specifically focussed on children and young people. Worth noting hear, is the age of criminal consent in Australia, which is 10 years old. Putting aside the overt and systemic racism I was able to clearly identify in the data, records and process (not to belittle this, rather something I will reflect on another time), my experiences with staff in a large government department was quite surprising and turned many of my preconceived (and apparently somewhat naive) ideas on their head.
These reflections are rooted in the experience of working with staff in what i would refer to as mid-level to senior management roles. Whereas i can’t speak to their formal qualifications, what I found was their skill set did not reflect my expectations of what they might (should?) be. As in, how did they get into such roles, when I considered what they were achieving was far less than I would consider necessary to effectively do the role.
It is important here to make clear, that the nature of work itself (as a neoliberal concept and manifestation) is important to critique. My focus here is people obtaining (very) high paying jobs - much higher than many who do important-essential work across society, and are just (or not) getting by economically, and how this impacts their social and emotional well-being. In addition, this is seperate to skiving off at work, be it because it is a shitty job, one’s social and emotional well-being or another response-reaction to the nature of (neoliberal) work itself.
To bring this back to my main point, I had always thought that one had to have a specific competency to be employed in such roles. This is part reflected the salary on offer, and perhaps more importantly, and ability to achieve the associated social outcomes one might expect from such roles (beyond 'jobs for the boys' implications). Roles which directly impact on society and often more marginalised and criminalised people. I was actually more than a little shocked at what I perceived as an inability to undertake what I would consider basic tasks...
I guess, in short, what I am saying, is that there are many people out there on (much) lower incomes, who are just (or not) getting by whilst there are people earning much more than anyone needs to. And in roles they should not be in.
Not a revelation by any stretch, nonetheless to see it in action was quite the thing…