Now I'll admit I haven't delved deep into the detail of the scheme and am merely shooting my mouth off based on what I have heard on the radio today, and Radio 1 at that but my thoughts are:
1) It sounds like some of the people who are receiving money from the government because they are seeking a job, are complaining that they have to do work while they wait for their job to appear. Surely if they just want to sit around and do nothing then they technically aren't seeking very hard and merely sponging.
2) Can people not see that in the current climate a job of any description, voluntary, placement, low-paid or whatever is a better stepping stone to the next job than doing nothing? A hole on your CV never looks impressive.
3) There seems to be a complaint that if they choose to leave their placement then they get their benefit cut off. Is that not good practice for the way it is in proper work? I'm guessing the rules are the same as when I last signed on that if you leave a job voluntarily you can't claim benefit immediately. Making the rules similar for these placements would provide another source of learning from experience that if you can't stand the heat and decide to get out of the kitchen then you shouldn't expect Nanny State to come and bail you out immediately.
It seems many employers are crying out for workers with more resilience, who are willing to work hard and possibly even get their hands dirty but who above all are able to conform to the ways of working that our society requires. They want people who are willing to be part of a team who all pull together rather than individuals who are merely out for personal gain; rights without responsibilities. Surely these are things that people will gain from work placements.
I certainly wouldn't condone employers taking advantage of these job seekers, which I can imagine does happen occasionally, but I also don't want to see society lapsing into a state where everyone is happy to shirk any responsibility that might come their way in the hope that someone else will provide financially for them.
I will end now and prepare for teaching the Life College students about resilience - it'll be hard but I expect them to thank me for it later.