Why there is no such thing as a bad job . . .
AS we rapidly approach Christmas many will be looking forward to indulging in all the season has to offer - good food, good company and lots of rest. And many of us will return from the holidays to our busy lives refreshed and ready to face into 2019.
But we know that this time of year isn't easy for those who are coping with the loss of a loved one, facing a marriage breakdown, dealing with a family fall-out or who are out of work and facing considerable financial and emotional pressures.
There are many legitimate reasons why people don't work. They may be caring for a relative, battling an illness, have little to no confidence or come from an environment where there is inter-generational unemployment.
I've worked in the recruitment sphere for over 25 years and have learnt that being out of work is intrinsically linked to poor mental health. As a society we should sympathise with those who are out of work, because the picture is not an easy one.
Depression, isolation and loneliness are many of the emotions wrapped up in being unemployed. Self-esteem is diminished, social skills are stifled and a feeling off worthlessness is common place. Does this sound like a situation anyone would want to find themselves in?
One of my businesses, PeoplePlus NI, helps some incredible people into work. One is a gentleman in his early 60s who cared for his wife before she recently passed away. His mental health suffered and he pushed family members away before our programme helped him find work and access to counselling services.
Another is a lady in her late 40s who has been unemployed since 1999 and who had lost confidence and felt self-conscious about her lack of IT skills and outdated CV. Through our support she has been in work for the past year in a role which gives her flexibility to care for her daughter and earn a wage.
How do we address the heartbreaking cycle of unemployment for those who don't find it so easy to ask for help?
Firstly we need to look at the high numbers of economically inactive which is considerably higher here than it is in the UK. A labour market report earlier this month revealed there was an increase in the number of economically inactive here to 28.5 per cent compared to 21 per cent in the UK. A significant number of those people could be reached with the right kind of intervention.
Secondly we must recognise that gaining a job, any job can be transformative for a person's well-being.
Our society needs to take collective responsibility for the attitude towards particular jobs and career paths. I often hear the myth that ‘there are no good jobs' in Northern Ireland.
In fact, there are 50,000-plus job vacancies here and that's just those we are aware of because they have been sent to the Jobs and Benefits Office. There is no such thing as a bad job. Each job is a stepping stone to progress further, grow confidence, improve soft skills, earn some money and build self-esteem.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel for anyone currently out of work. This Christmas take the time to encourage your loved ones, family and friends to take the step towards employment, however small that step might be.
If you have been out of work long term or even for a short while, then reach out to services that will support your return to work. If you take the leap into employment your 2019 will be filled with greater joy, hope and happiness. I wish you well on your journey.
:: Tina McKenzie is chief executive of Grafton Recruitment Ireland