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Why creating jobs is important

I have at times been debated as to the definition of social enterprise (versus community, voluntary, NGO or any one of the other definitions going) and why I am an advocate of the job creating element. Being somewhat blunt, I have at times made it obvious that I am confused by the question.

Many social issues can be related back to two particular areas: education in the first instance, and lack of employment opportunities later in the early part of a persons life. Massive regeneration schemes like the one in Limerick (that seems to be on hold at the moment) are laudable as it deals with housing and some of the social issues that can plague geographic locations. But when I see these schemes, well meaning as they are, I always wonder where the jobs are? Education does tend to be take into account in some ways, through new schools or after school programmes. Yet what happens to these young people later seems to be happily ignored.

We are still a narrow minded species when we want to be – even in times of job growth, how many people have been turned away from employment due to where they are from or the accent they have? What chance then for those with less than perfect backgrounds? We have two choices: we can deal with these people in the way we always have, by providing services to them in terms of needs (increasingly by social enterprises) or we can try and solve the jobs issue at local and community level.

We have to turn the ‘market solves everything’ discussion around. In this scenario social enterprises can be sustainable organisations, while earning revenue and help to encourage people who will not only contribute to society (tax revenue and spending power) but are less likely to need the services of many of the social enterprises out there.

Surely that is our mission overall? With limited resources the social sector needs less people to seek these services not more. And as we know there are plenty of models out there that can be adapted to fit the Irish system. We need to start finding solutions instead of stop-gap answers. This isn’t a cost, this is an investment. Social value and economic value is not an either/or calculation.

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  1. February 11, 2010 at 13:07

    If I read correctly…that generating employment opportunities through social enterprises will indirectly reduce in time my comment)the need for certain services currently offered…I agree. There is a logic to this view. It lends itself to ideally seeing a contraction of duplication, in the broader social sector, to compliment an expansion of new social enterprises with an employment, social and revenue generating focus – using finite resources to maximise investment and return in these areas.
    To convince government, business and society in general in the current environment of the potential of this approach, we need to be able to demonstrate the cost benefit/ value for money e.g. if you employ someone who has a criminal background and we know recitivism is 70%, what’s the net benefit to the state for keeping this person working and contributing to society; what services might this person not need as a result of employment..what’s the saving. Some common defined robust shared metrics would be useful to employ in this sector and would strengthen the argument for state and private investment.

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