A discussion that was going on a local tech entrepreneur listserve about the need to work for less than a fair wage when doing contract work got me thinking of an idea I had a while back.  The idea is a kind of 'jobs fair' that would be open to anyone, and anyone who attended would be either guaranteed a job or funding for a startup.  The amount of time that people spend competing for: first a college degree, then a job, then maybe funding for a business idea, is enormous.  It can often result in needing to compromise your moral principles and spend most of your time doing things in areas you are not passionate about.  Constantly needing to be judged and being told that you are not as good as someone else who got the job you wanted, puts a tremendous toll on your wellbeing and desire to interact with others.  On the other side, someone looking to hire the right person has to spend a considerable amount of time wading through tons of applicants before eventually arriving at someone you actually want to hire.  And if you have an ounce of empathy, constantly needing to turn people down because they are not the right fit feels horrible.

          The way I conceived of the 'job fair' working would be in two stages. 

          The first stage would be a sign up and stakeholder gathering phase.  Job seekers would fill out an online form detailing their skills and interests and any ideas for solutions to unsolved problems they had.  Employers (worker coops and businesses that agree to not throw their employees under the proverbial bus if the job does not work out) would sign up and agree to employ people to work with them and not for them.  Business investors and venture capitalists would sign up and work on forming business ideas with people who do not see an existing role with any of the existing business that are hiring.

          Then the second stage would be the actual conference where everyone gets to know each other and job seekers and job fillers seek mutual skills and interests.  The people who do not have career goals and skills in line with those being sought, and those with business ideas they are looking to actualize, would work with the business investors and venture capitalists.  Together, they would form new worker cooperative businesses around the solutions previously identified in the first stage that everyone on the table can get behind.  These cooperatives would act as holons each independent entities, but with the ability to utilize each other's resources to some extent.  There would also be a buffer fund established that all the cooperatives earning a positive income would contribute to and those needing more income could draw from.  The way the investors would get compensated is that they would be seen as one of the cooperatives.  If the investors want to withdraw some of their investment, their financial balance would be negative and therefore a proportion of the buffer fund will go to them.  This siphoning of money to an investor will only continue until a previously agreed upon return on investment is achieved or the person invests more money back into the system.  Because the contribution will only be a portion of the profit, if some or all cooperatives are not earning a profit, they will not need to contribute to the buffer.  Obviously exact details will need to be worked out when more people get involved, but that is the general way I am envisioning the financing working.  It may also make sense to involve colleges and others in the education sphere.  They could be seen as business investors.  Although they may not be providing financial support, they can still provide significant resources and as a result have a share of the profit.  However, the exact nature of their compensation would need to be figured out because education is rarely easily quantifiable.

          The important point in all this is that people are not competing – there would be the explicit edict that no one is left out and no one is forced to do things they have no desire to do (of course it may be necessary for some people to do undesired tasks, but these tasks should be for the purpose of fulfilling desired goals).

          What do people think of this idea and is anyone interested in working on it with me?  I would not be surprised if we could get some grant funding to get the ball rolling.