A VAST programme of public works should be introduced in order to combat the growing unemployment caused by a struggling economy and new technology, Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool urged last week.
"It is vitally important that we recognise that full employment of the conventional kind will not return in the forseeable future," he told members of the Bristol Diocesan Social and Industrial Ministry in Bristol Cathedral.
"The challenge is to see in what manner and in what degree we can find a substitute of the non-conventional kind in which the individual can achieve worthy fulfilment and which may be of some benefit to the community, whether local or at large."
Archbishop Worlock said that new technology had made so many inroads into our lives that to talk or a coming technological age would be a "gross anachronism."
"Its effects may not yet have been adequately appreciated but in so far as we shall never return to the conditions we knew when
'we never had it so good', it is well to admit that the new technological era . . . is not just here to stay. It is rolling forward at a quite incredible pace — without most of us realising what it is doing."
Archbishop Worlock said that the only real solution to the unemployment problem was to transform people's idea of work so that community services would be regarded as a proper job and would receive adequate wages. The Archbishop repeated his call for the Government to set up a Royal Commission to look into the future. Although his personal solution would be to introduce a vast public works programme, he said that no one individual or section of industry' could provide an adequate response to "this problem of intense proportions."
Christians had a special responsibility to "give practical expression to the Christian injunction to love one's neighbour, and in Merseyside just now that frequently means one's unemployed neighbour," he commented.