(mis)reading skills

From a BBC news story, yesterday:

“Plans have been published by ministers in England to tackle the “social exclusion” of adults with autism.
[…]
[T]he cross-government strategy sets out a range of measures to help them have “rewarding and fulfilling” lives, including training for Jobcentre staff.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with Jobcentre staff. I’m not even sure they were called “Jobcentres” back then. Surely we used to go to sign on at the Labour Exchange? (Was it the Tories who implemented the name change, afraid that the ignorant unemployed would believe their benefit cheque was funded entirely by Labour and vote accordingly?)

Back in the ’70s and ’80s, I came across a few very helpful staff – people who took time to work out how to get the best for each individual jobless member of the public – but over the years I’ve also come across a lot of less-than-helpful bureaucrats dealing with the public in the employment services and other government administration offices both in the UK and here in Spain.

Indeed, some of them seemed to suffer from the “triad of impairments” – social communication, social interaction and social imagination – that are related to autism. Perhaps that’s why I read the story as meaning that “rewarding and fulfilling lives” could be achieved for autistic people by training them to work in Jobcentres.

It wasn’t until almost at the end of the report that I found the sentence:

Employment advisers working for Jobcentres will also get training on how to help people with the condition into work.

and realised, with some relief, that that was not the intention.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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