Send in the Clown- ‘Up for Hire’ at AOL

My time in the spotlight on BBC3’s ambitious first live show ‘Up for Hire’ was certainly an eye-opener. A crash course in how not to rise through the ranks. Not exactly how I imagined doing it, but who needs dreams when you’re unemployed, right?

It hopefully wasn’t ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ as I struggle to get the first step in my real 40 year climb up the ladder. And I promptly got a lifetime’s experience, made 40 years’ worth of mistakes in just three weeks.

Which was tough.

In many areas- management, delegation, negotiation- I did not have confidence in the skills I have. I was terrified of getting it wrong. And I learned an awful lot.

We are Tony’s children- lavished with ‘education, education education’, promised that ‘things will only get better’ all by a man obsessed with his legacy.

But how would he reflect on this?

We were promised jetpacks.

When it was decided 50 per cent of young people should go to university, we all ‘raised our aspirations’.

But where was the clear national strategy on what would happen afterwards? Wouldn’t it be novel if when you finished training, you could get a job and were well-placed to do it?

Despite the biggest democratisation of education we have ever seen, social mobility has gone backwards and we do not have enough people skilled in the areas demanded by our changing economy.

Or at least there aren’t the jobs there for one million young people looking for work in the UK today. The highest number since records began.

What we decided when we were 14 dictated what we could choose to do when we were 16 and 17. When we were children in the eyes of government.

Had we been advised on the future jobs market, we would all be international business people, working in green technologies or launching our own 21st century start-ups.

We had high expectations. Unfortunately, there isn’t much received wisdom.

The lives of many of our senior politicians read something like a manual of ‘how to get a quick win in politics’. Come from money, go to a top school, go to an elite university, work as a political junior, bam. Sometimes I wish I’d been in the loop!

You don’t learn much from winning all the time. Without mistakes, how would we know what we had to work on? And this becomes all the more clear as our self-governing politicians appear constantly in breach of the rules.

They have 20, 30, 40 years on us and are still making classic errors.

Feeling empowered to speak is something that never really gets a mention. But what is it that makes some people compelled to put their hat in the ring?

I met a girl who was going to Oxford. I was jealous. Until she said they actually just teach you how to get a first, not how to think for yourself. But they can’t half talk.

This, amongst many others, is a basic skill that everyone leaving school should have, are we giving it to them?

I ended up leading a group of young people through a spelling challenge with some Year 11s up north. E-a-s-y. Easy?

They immediately dismissed the exercise- one girl was going into hair and beauty- to which I tried to explain that she would still have to fill in forms, and generally communicate… Deaf ears.

We compartmentalise education- if you do English, you won’t need maths. But your education builds the whole foundation for your life, you never stop learning, it doesn’t finish at school.

Here, I was reminded of Jamie’s Dream School ‘Bored’, ‘Don’t know how to listen’, ‘Not disciplined in their thinking or behaviour’ ‘Too high an opinion of themselves’.

Hm.

I know a lot of bright young people. And there are nearly one million without work. This is a shame. We are keen, hardworking and somewhat unpolished. But isn’t everyone when they start out? People speak fondly of a time when young people worked hard and got jobs. What’s changed?

We are modern consumers and as such we should be as picky about the courses we choose as we are about the clothes we wear and the places we go out. If employability is your goal, then choose wisely and demand better.

Why are we selling courses in Mickey Mouse to the people who will run the future if they don’t give you something to take away with you?

If young people aren’t ‘ready for work’- graduates or non-graduates- that is a problem. Languages, sciences and business skills are all in demand- if we need more skills, then we need jobs, training and mentoring.

Free work isn’t the same as having a job- with varying levels of responsibility and support. We are also competing with experienced people for vacancies and it’s almost understandable that can’t win.

Right now, many young people are being paid to do nothing, and the longer that this is the case, the more of a drain we become.

I am a good graduate who studied at a reputable university for the job I wanted to do. I have done internships, applied for further study and even tried to make it on my own.

If my participation has to raise awareness of a complex but very helped real problem for our society, then I am very glad and the producers should be congratulated.

But we were promised jetpacks, so where are they?

If you are interested in joining a discussion on the future- including youth unemployment- Occupy London are hosting ‘Occupy Half-term’ from 2-4pm every day this week at St. Paul’s in London which aims to give young people the opportunity to develop skills and get information. There is also a family fun day on Saturday.

Choose Youth are inviting young people to lobby parliament against cuts to youth services this Tuesday from 11.30-4pm. There is also a national student demonstration on 9th November, supported by the National Union of Students.

Be the change.

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