Posts Tagged ‘Employment’

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

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For many people, by which I mean the ones who always seem to appear on TV or in films, your first job is usually a romantic day dream surrounded by either steaming hot trays of pancakes and waffles as you roller skate around the diner or have to apologise for the 50th time for “accidently” breaking the window of the local pensioner when delivering his paper at 10mph. The wistful smells of sweet summers, the friendly customers smiling, the broken ankle after slipping on the coffee you forgot to mop up, it’s quite a wonderful idea to reflect on when your sitting on a rocking chair in your 80s. Too bad that it’s complete bollocks for some 90% of us.

For the majority who lived after the 50s revolution the first job usually fell into one of two categories: either just some pointless part time job in a shop stacking shelves or clothes whilst being asked 30 times were the toilets are, or having to work at a low wage job such as mining or steel working from 16-60 because education and job chances in your area were so poor you had no choice. Although this second one in Britain is now more or less gone the first one is more true than ever, the only modern twist being that even when you do have access to education at a university level it still largely does nothing to help you get into any area you studied for, or would of hoped of working in.

This might sound somewhat pessimistic or untrue, but the reality of it all is that with near 50% of young people going to university, it’s evolved from something that was once a way of really learning and setting your self out from a crowd into an almost automatic right that costs you upwards of £20,000 and putting you in a crowd of thousands of young people. So suddenly a degree is not enough anymore.

With millions of people unemployed right now, even for low-key jobs the markets pretty desperate, well if your applying that is. For those on the other side, the employers, things couldn’t be better.  Take the media for example, a good one as many young people aim to work in it with booming numbers of media courses. If you’re an Editor or a Producer you long to have around 200 people apply, although it means sitting through a lot of nonsense it means you can pick usually around 60 of the best and offer them a week long placement or unpaid internship, which as the buzzword nowadays is “Experience”, most will happily snap up.

Think about it, that means you can have a whole year filled with essentially free labour, admittedly most of the tasks given will be the stuff that no one wants to do such as cataloguing but it means it gets done without you having to pay over £12,000 for the pleasure. In fact the money flows the other way, with the average work placement costing people over £400, especially as most of the UK’s media is based out of London, and unless you live there you’ve got to pay for board, food and travel.

Many of the familiar TV personalities had a different time, as this idea of work experience is a relatively new phenomenon, with people being hired for their ability rather than having made 3 million cups of tea.

You may be tempted to think: “so what, things are hard all over”, or you may even think young people won’t care because they enjoy TV and partying too much. If that was true then 21-year-old Vicky Harrison would still be alive.

I don’t know if you saw this story when it came out in April, but Vicky had 3 A-Levels, 10-GCSE’s and even went to University before deciding she didn’t like the course. She had applied for more than 200 jobs, not just in teaching or TV like she had hoped to do, but even just working in McDonalds or Tesco. Every time it was a cold hard no, until after two years, and suffering from severe depression she took a fatal drug overdose.

Between December and February, youth unemployment rose to 929,000. A figure expected to increase as increasing numbers of young people are turned away by universities. In the Daily Mail, following the tragic story of Miss Harrison, a reporter revealed she had been trying to help a young reporter, who was interning with her, named Emma find work, after she worked from 9am to midnight, longer than most of the paid journalists. Despite the Mail Reporters senior experience and contacts, all she could offer from other groups was unpaid internships, leading her to remark: “But they are not OK. Nowadays, you have to have rich parents to work in any of the sexy jobs such as fashion or advertising or journalism.

“When I first worked on Fleet Street, my newspaper was not being published because the printers were on strike for, like, a million years, and I still got paid for just sitting there eating a sandwich.”

To the employers, young people now are essentially willing slave labor, who will do any job no matter how tedious because they’ve been duped by spin in job ads into thinking you need 3 years of experience before you can get a job. To much of the public, young people are all image obsessed, drunken loud mouths that care more about appearance than anything. If that’s true, then its also true to say all pensioners move at 1 mile, are closet bigots and serve no purpose in life. Generalizations can be fun when they’re not aimed at a group your in.

Basically the job market for young people is ridiculously discriminatory, with many either being told they lack experience of being given psychometric testing, something that is as accurate at telling a persons personality as licking their bath towels and identifying the shower gel they use. Of course this won’t change anytime soon, unless we return to the violent protests of the late 80s and then things will likely change for the worse. But if you are thinking of employing someone, for the love of bread and butter pudding ignore the qualifications and actually ask them about who they really are, when they love, what they hate, whether they think we should hang or poison MPs. And if your looking for work, two pieces of advise: 1, no amount of book studying, or work places are going to help as employers will always find a way to screw you over, and 2, 1 in 4 lap dancers has a degree, so don’t think that what you study is what your going to end up doing, by all means try just don’t close every door in the pursuit.

Adam Walker