Monday, 16 January 2017

The empty promises of 'Job creation' - and the real possibilities from 'entrepreneur-led revitalisation' and the 'return of a spirit of self-reliance'

One of the main aims of the East Devon Local Plan is 'job creation', as stipulated a year ago when it was formally adopted:

Much needed Local Plan will fill planning void and allow appropriate development for the district

1 February 2016

  • The Plan makes appropriate provision for affordable housing and jobs growth

There are clear benefits to having the Local Plan finally in place – not least that it provides a strategy for development throughout the district (particularly the West End) and makes appropriate provision for affordable housing, which in turn is linked to jobs growth. 

Now the District Council is asking for input on how to deliver the Local Plan - again, with the focus on 'housing and jobs growth':
Futures Forum: Community Infrastructure Levy projects for housing and economic growth to be considered at Town Council: Monday 9th January

The District Council talks about creating 'good quality jobs'. However, in the Local Plan, the only reference to ‘high-value employment’ is the Exeter Science Park which will offer limited opportunities to Sidmouth in the Eastern part of the District: 

7.39 This significant investment will lead to the creation of a high value employment site offering high skill and wage jobs for the local economy. It will further help position the Exeter sub-region as a leading business centre with specialist scientific and technological activities which have a national and international standing.

Jobs and the Economy 16.4 Key objectives for East Devon include seeking to improve job opportunities and business performance. We recognise that large scale inward investment into the District, providing skilled jobs, is most likely to occur in the Western part of East Devon and for this reason we have identified strategic development sites close to the M5 motorway that will appeal to this sector. Elsewhere in East Devon site provision is to be geared around securing development to promote business growth of smaller scale existing and new businesses.

There are indeed aspirations:

Ensuring Vibrant Rural Areas, 15.2 Housing development should be balanced by the provision of jobs particularly those offering skilled positions. Technology based industry with a low environmental impact will be particularly encouraged.

Jobs in Rural Areas 15.9 We are keen to see skilled jobs, and higher paid jobs, particularly in areas such as technology and home-working.

Jobs and the Economy 16.6 The promotion of employment opportunities in East Devon will seek to retain young graduates through development of knowledge based businesses. Currently only 5% of East Devon’s economic structure is represented by those employed in knowledge based sectors in comparison to 18% in Exeter and nationally. To secure a better paid more diverse local economy East Devon needs to secure and promote job opportunities in higher skilled, knowledge based industries.


The problem is that what's actually happening is not 'good quality jobs'.

Honiton sent in this comment to the Local Plan:

“In recent years there has been an increase of A1/A2 development on Heathpark Industrial Estate. More B1/B2 development would be desirable in order to increase higher paid employment opportunities, but not bulk goods warehouses.[1] 
The Town Council strongly opposes any development for employment on greenfield sites especially as this is often as a direct result of the unwelcome proliferation of retail use at Heathpark
The Town Council is aware of the decision by the Inspector in the case of Countrywide but continues to stress that the proliferation of retail on this site has the effects of loss of land for B1/B2 development, increase in low income employment and harm to the main shopping area in the High Street and believes that policies must be strengthened to prevent further such incidents. (submission to Local Plan panel 6 Sept 2011) 

Futures Forum: What is the difference between a 'business park'... and a 'retail park'... Part Two

Meanwhile, the 'Eastern End' of the District is not getting its 'quality jobs' either:

And Sidmouth's current economy is distinctly low-wage:

A lot has been promised, however:

There are some ideas out there, though - such as 'entrepreneur-led revitalisation': 

Today's Forbes magazine looks at the possibilities:

Here Is How Entrepreneurs Can Help Create Real, High-Value Jobs


Every job is valuable to the person who holds it, but just bringing on more people does not make our companies or our economy healthier. Entrepreneurs do best if they create jobs that are both high-value and real.
As entrepreneurs, we drive the growth engine when we increase efficiency (i.e., productivity), which is the fundamental enabler of economic growth. If we up-skill our workforce as part of the productivity improvement and pay higher wages as a result, we increase employee purchasing power, which contributes to growth. We drive growth more when we take our savings from efficiency improvement and invest it in growing our volume, maintaining or growing our employment and (if we pass some efficiency savings to customers) giving customers savings they can spend on new things. 
We do better still if we invest some of the dividend from efficiency in new products that increase the value of our production by addressing emerging customer needs (like adding GPS navigation to cars). And we do that best if we use the efficiency dividend to accomplish the difficult feat of innovating in a new market driven by emerging technologies and demographic trends, which is probably a big step beyond the market on which our company was built. That’s a tall order, but it’s what the best entrepreneurs have done: think of Steve Jobs taking Apple from PCs to smart phones, or Jeff Bezos birthing the world’s leading cloud services company out of his retail business, leaving HP, IBM, and Google in his digital dust.
Don’t focus on creating “real jobs” as the politicians define them. Create “high value” jobs as economists would view them. The good news is that those usually turn out to be real jobs too.

Here Is How Entrepreneurs Can Help Create Real, High-Value Jobs

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the FEE - and how we can free ourselves from being 'serfs' to the 'drudgery' of most work:

How Work Became Drudgery Once Again

Dan Sanchez
Young people, college graduates especially, are not feeling hopeful about their careers. Mired in student loan debt, facing a labor market that has been stagnant for as long as they can remember, and deciding between a job where they’ll be miserable and moving back in with their parents, millennials have grown skeptical toward market capitalism...
Thankfully there are hopeful signs that, in the 21st century, this re-enserfment is itself being reversed. These signs include:
  • Digital technology reducing start-up costs faster than taxes and regulations can raise them.
  • In particular, internet, smartphone app, and P2P platform technology reducing transaction costs, creating detours around licensure laws (see Uber and AirBNB), and leading to the rise of the Sharing Economy and the Gig Economy.
  • The return of classical liberalism as a widespread social philosophy.
  • The necessity-induced return of a spirit of self-reliance, due to young people losing faith (or never acquiring it) in paternalistic institutions like grade schools, universities, large employers, and governments being able to guarantee them security.
  • The rise of internet-enhanced alternatives to formal schooling like homeschooling, unschooling, online learning platforms, and apprenticeship learning programs.
These developments may, within our lifetimes, culminate triumphantly in a new emancipation of human labor: one which, thanks to digital technology, will be too thoroughgoing to be reversed.
How Work Became Drudgery Once Again | Foundation for Economic Education

The point is that jobs should not be an end in themselves - and, besides, we can free ourselves from the pointlessness of so much 'work', as these excerpts from the C4SS site point out:

“Jobs” as a Red Herring: The Dangers of Make-Work Bias
But the debate over employment statistics misses a bigger point: Jobs shouldn’t be the goal. A job isn’t an end in itself; it’s a means to an end. People seek employment so that they can buy food, afford shelter, and purchase the other things they desire. As Adam Smith wrote, “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production.”

Still, many people measure an economy’s health in terms of employment, a phenomenon economist Bryan Caplan calls “make-work bias, a tendency to underestimate the economic benefits of conserving labor.”

And there are obvious economic benefits to conserving labor. Suppose Kevin Carson is right that 3-D printers will create a homebrew industrial revolution, allowing individuals and small shops to produce modern consumer goods at incredibly low costs and with very little requisite labor. This would likely eliminate plenty of jobs in both manufacturing and sales, as people move to creating goods at low cost in their homes or neighborhoods. But while there would be fewer jobs, people would be much better off. They would have more stuff at lower costs, and likely more freedom to choose what to do with their time.

If this kind of innovation were squelched, some jobs might be protected, but overall people would be much worse off. We see this kind of dynamic at play today as entrenched interests use so-called “intellectual property” to squelch free expression and innovation online. The infamous and censorious Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), was backed by the AFL-CIO in order to protect a narrow set of jobs from the internet’s competition. The bill was wildly unpopular, as it would have destroyed one of the most desirable aspects of modern life. But hey, anything to protect jobs in politically connected industries.

Discussion of jobs is often used to divert resources to privileged business interests. That’s exactly what the Ex-Im bank does. It lends taxpayer money to corporations like Boeing, Caterpillar and General Electric. These companies have connections in Washington and profit handsomely off of militarism and war.

Every dollar politicians divert towards these firms is a dollar allocated by force rather than by voluntary exchange. Voluntary exchange tends to be mutually beneficial: Both parties involved gain something they want from the exchange. Indeed, they typically gain something they value more than what they gave up. In this manner, voluntary association and trade tend to create wealth and make people better off. Such exchanges also employ the tacit knowledge individuals have about their unique preferences and values, knowledge inaccessible to any politician or bureaucrat...

It’s time to stop seeing work as an end in itself. We should seek a world where we can toil less and have more. To do that, it’s important to let people freely associate and discover new ways of producing, trading, sharing, and interacting. The state will undermine this process, enriching privileged elites in the name of jobs.

Center for a Stateless Society » “Jobs” as a Red Herring: The Dangers of Make-Work Bias

See also:
Creative Destruction | Foundation for Economic Education
Make-work job - Wikipedia

Futures Forum: In Praise of Idleness: "If Hadza nomads get by on 14 hours’ work a week, why can’t we?"
Futures Forum: In Praise of Idleness: working less could actually be better for everyone.

Futures Forum: The gig economy is 'exciting' and has 'huge potential'... or maybe not...

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