Last night on RTL (our commercial network here in Germany) came the first 2015 show of Team Wallraff (the German version of Sixty Minutes....back when Sixty Minutes actually put fear into the hearts of targets). Last year, they spent an entire show going after some franchise operations of Burger King here in Germany.
The topic last night? The German government-run Jobs-Center. For a basic introduction.....the Jobs-Center is a complex where they help the youth into job training situations, help the unemployed find jobs, and help on retraining.
What most Germans will say is that there was a time and place for the Jobs-Center to operate (from the 1930s to 1980s). The usefulness in today's atmosphere is questioned.
Team Wallraff last night went out after one particular function of the national Job-Center program.....helping the long-term unemployed.
They used a curious statistic from the fall of 2014. For one particular month.....there were 2.7 unemployed Germans....out of eighty million.
Well....to be honest....there's some numbers which weren't blended into this 2.7 million number. For example, 450,000 Germans were unemployed as well, but on job training programs. Just about any program counts as a job training program. It could be a Microsoft-related program for four weeks on Excel or Word. It could be a confidence-building program. It could be a public speaking program. So those folks basically don't count.
254,000 people were unemployed but not counted because they were sick. A doctor signs a note and for that period that the note is in effect.....the guy is not listed as unemployed.
168,000 Germans were listed as "old", which meant they weren't counted as unemployed even though they are unemployed. The age deal? Unknown, but it appears that these are all people under the age of 65.
Another 294,000 Germans were unemployed but not listed as unemployed.....for 'other' reasons. This wasn't explained at all by Tea Wallraff and makes one wonder what 'other' means. One might assume long-term unemployed, but it's not clear.
So the bright and cheerful five to six percent unemployment rate? Well....it ought to be eleven to twelve percent, which is an awful high rate.
Another part of the episode covered the stupid seminars. Seminar talkers were often brought in to waste the time of participants with fake training. In one seminar.....the speaker wanted a participant to think over the job of an astronaut. It's hard to say what the intention is....other than there aren't many unemployed astronauts, and maybe it was a mind-game at best.
For the Job-Center crowd, it was a blow below the belt.
The German program tries to be what the US state-by-state unemployment program can't be. They run a all-in-one concept. They try to funnel people into jobs and act as a conduit. They have a fair sized pot of money and use various old tricks and newly devised tricks to make the unemployed numbers look better than what they are. It's a politically motivated crowd because it's the government in the end that looks good or bad. Incompetence? Well, it's like any government agency, it's got more than a few incompetent managers and executives.
Last year, The Wallraff Team got a fair amount of national coverage over what they uncovered in public life. I suspect this opening episode will do the same.