Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

Age is a great mystery, not the historical ages such as the Romans but the gap between those in their 60s and those in their 20s. Sometimes it seems like it’s just around the corner whether looking forward or looking back, something that gives the canyon between the two a certain romanticism, well that and greeting cards philosophy of everyone singing with each other. Other times it seems like both sides could at any minute amass two armies, one armed with wooden canes and enough medicines to create biological weapons, the other armed with knives and enough cider to satisfy a redneck. But despite the differences one thing is true of both sides of the age war, they both are scorned and discriminated against by everyone in the middle… but only with one side calling it Ageist.

If you were to refuse to hire someone for being over 60 or to claim they smelled of kippers, you’d no doubt land yourself in court for being ageist. Even if it was for legitimate reason such as needing to carry heavy loads or have fast hand eye coordination. It’s because its viewed that acknowledging the bleeding obvious in many cases suggests you have some issue with a particular group and thus will not consider them on those grounds. Strange then that it is ok to use this exact method of discrimination against young people, by which I mean under 25s, when you would be harassed and face jury were you to it against ethnicities, sexuality, gender, religions or the pension gang.

Were as claiming a woman can’t do something because she might get pregnant or not have the psychical strength, or that a black man might cause you trouble with the brain-dead skinheads in the pub is seen as unacceptable, it is strangely common practise to claim a young person can’t do something because they’ve never been given the chance to learn and prove themselves. It’s quite common to see this, the workforce who won’t see a state pension being refused an opportunity, all because of the dreaded “E” word, experience.

There is more to this form of discrimination than just “oh they lack experience, they need to at least done this job for two years before they can get an job that used to be for people straight from school”. Due to the actions of the drug-fuelled youth who spend all day partying and having sex (hang on that started in the 60s didn’t it?), all young people have been tarred with this brush of “trouble” as shown in the conversation that one reporter over heard in April: “They have no work ethic,’ he said. ‘They are interested only in life outside work. They can’t wait to get away at the end of the day.

“She couldn’t speak, either, not properly, and when I admonished her she said, “It’s my personality. My accent is part of my culture.”

The thing is though, other than the fact this is hardly new it did start in the 1950’s, why would you expect someone to be excited about a job they either don’t really want to do, and see it as purely for money or in the case of many students trying to break into areas of Fashion and Media have to do for no money.

A standard two-week placement with a media company in London, unpaid like so many other placements, can cost the young person over £400 to undertake. Would you get excited about forking out a large sum of money to work for free only to be told at the end of it all whilst applying for full time work “you still don’t have enough experience”?

The simple case is young people are seen as free labour, as we’ll take on a lot of work for no money and you can always refuse to pay bring in someone else and still claim they lack experience until they’ve done around 40 of these placements.

It is of course more than just employment where this discrimination lies. As with people accusing elderly people of being bad drivers, many people claim the same of young drivers. Some in fact going so far as to claim you shouldn’t let 17-24s drive at night (because of course on your 25th birthday all the secrets of the world suddenly unlock like Doctor Who opening that fob watch).

Yes there are “boy racers” out there, and there are some teenagers who will cause trouble, but there are people in their 30s who cause trouble in a similar way, just look at Millwall football fans. And most of the programming aimed at young people is enough to make you want to gouge your own eyes out just to have something to throw at the television. But these, as always, are a minority. The vast majority of young people in Britain enjoy the same well-written comedies as the rest of us, and more of them listen to Radio 2 than Radio 1. But still they’re lumped together and treated as essentially a minor Slave Labour force, having to work hours and hours more than the rest of the population for no money and very little acceptance or understanding.

The simple facts of the matter is that Age Discrimination is a Two way street, and people need to start realising that you have to treat young people fairly regardless of what’s said on TV. If you want just one reason why, given the hugely ageing population, just think who’s going to be funding all the pensions and powering the economy in 10 years time, and they may well remember how the now retired treated them with contempt… all I’m saying is, don’t be surprised if euthanasia becomes common.

Adam Walker