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The truth behind the new jobless generation watch

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    The truth behind the new jobless generation
    Blair’s obsession with university for all was meant to create a golden era for graduates, but the number of young unemployed now exceeds one million.

    It is assessment day at the Warrington office of the recruitment company BMS, and a business studies graduate rises nervously from his chair. It is his turn to sell himself to an audience of his peers in 30 seconds, in what management types call an “elevator pitch”, a punchy summary short enough to be delivered to a superior or customer during a ride in a lift.

    “The reason I think I’d be good at business-to-business sales,” he mumbles, “is… err… I’ve got good communication skills. I can describe products. I’ve got listening skills. Err…” His barely audible monotone falters and then trails off into silence. He finishes speaking before his time is up, then slumps in his chair.

    The person in question is 21 years old and holds a degree from a respected redbrick university. He is one of 17 graduates here, on this grey retail estate, looking for a job in sales. Most of his competitors are, it must be said, rather more articulate. Ten are working in relatively menial jobs and seven are unemployed. One of the latter is claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance and six are entirely dependent on that strained but unfailing institution, the Bank of Mum and Dad. Mark Milsted, the man in charge of the assessment, has seen it all before: intelligent people who have failed to master basic communication and cannot organise their thoughts.

    “They have gained a qualification because they have enjoyed the subject matter, without thinking where it is going to lead,” he says. “There is a mismatch between what employers want and what is on offer. If you are an old-school employer you don’t understand going to university to study something you will never use.”

    The redbrick business graduate may hold a relevant degree, but his inability to sustain a train of thought puts him at the bottom of the class. Only six of the 17 are considered truly promising material.


    Warrington has the third-highest rating in Britain for youth unemployment, a scourge that has re-erupted on to the political landscape. In the third quarter of this year the number of people between the ages of 16 and 24 looking for work passed the one million mark. At 1.02 million, the figure is the worst since the 1980s, and includes 286,000 students in full-time education seeking work to supplement their income. Even worse is the figure for 16- to 24-year-olds classed as Neet – Not in Employment, Education or Training. At 1.16 million, they represent one fifth of their age group, the problem being most acute in the North of England.

    As the economy continues to splutter, with third-quarter growth of 0.5 per cent, the Coalition is faced with a political running sore. A sticking plaster was applied yesterday when the Government announced £1 billion of spending over three years to provide young people with subsidised places in the private sector. From next April, employers will be offered £2,275 per recruit for taking on people aged 18 to 24 for six months. Some 160,000 young people should benefit from the scheme, and up to 410,00 are to be offered placements of some kind or another, but the number of real jobs created is anyone’s guess.

    In any case, such solutions do nothing to address one of the central failings of the British economy: the chronic inability of the British education system to deliver useful employees to commerce and industry. People like the tongue-tied business studies graduate illustrate a problem cited time and time again by employers: young people lacking basic skills, even at the graduate end of the scale, but imbued with an over-healthy sense of entitlement.

    “It’s all very good going to university and coming out with these degrees, but you must have the social skills to go with them,” says Mandy Brook, director of the Eastbourne-based agency, Recruitment South East. “You need to be able to look someone in the eye and have a conversation. I would say 70 per cent of the children out of university and further education can’t do those things.”

    Few applicants, she says, are prepared to lower their sights and take more menial jobs to gain knowledge of the workplace.

    “They turn around and say: 'That’s not what I was looking for.’ You explain the market to them but they say they will wait or they strop off. They are hoping for £20,000 or more.”

    A solution is readily available: thousands of polite, hard-working, well-qualified young people from the eastern countries of the European Union and elsewhere. With much of Britain’s human capital wasted, the gaps have been filled by foreigners. Of the 29.17 million people aged 16 and over in employment in the United Kingdom, 2.56 million are non-British nationals. At the same time there are 2.62 million in this country unemployed and 9.36 million people classed as economically inactive. While the British component of the workforce shrank by 280,000 in the year to September, the overseas workforce in Britain expanded by 147,000. By far the biggest foreign contingent is from the eastern EU – Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Baltic states. There are 669,000 workers from those countries here, an increase of 94,000 on last year.

    “The foreigners are the keenest,” says Miss Brook. “They have the skills and they will work for pretty much any money. They are hard working, there on time and stay late if needed. It’s easier to take someone like that on than someone who thinks the world owes them a living.”

    The competition for British young people comes not only from foreigners of a similar age. Miss Brook says she is encountering more applicants aged 55 and over, people driven back into work by inadequate pensions and rising prices.

    Joblessness among the young is rising across the EU and the UK rate is close to the average of the 27 member states, 21.4 per cent. The situation is more acute in Spain (48 per cent), Greece (43.5) and Italy (29.3). But in Germany it is nine per cent.

    Europe’s greatest economic power has long led the way in youth training with its dual education system, which combines highly regulated apprenticeships in the private sector with vocational training in colleges. Employers are locked into training contracts and cannot exploit apprentices by paying low wages for minimal instruction. The qualifications are highly regarded.

    David Fox takes on at least six young people a year to train at PP Electrical Systems in Walsall.

    “We like the idea of apprentices because if you take a youngster who has an aptitude for manufacturing you have a clean sheet of paper to work with,” he says. “We want people who pay attention, turn up on time and look tidy. People with the wrong attitude fail. You can’t change them; we have found it impossible. We had one incident in the factory when some people were firing air pistols.”

    Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), says the UK must aim for a system similar to that in Germany.

    “British political culture is short-termist,” he says. “Every new minister of every political colour is intent on leaving his or her mark on the education system. The Germans set up their apprenticeship system 50 years ago and they haven’t changed it substantially since.”

    In a survey of 7,000 businesses, BCC asked members how confident they felt when hiring from British universities. Only 45 per cent expressed high confidence in the graduates they met. :eek::eek::eek:

    “The overwhelming feeling among our members is that the system is not delivering. Funding in the British higher and further education system follows the interests of the learner, not the needs of the economy. So you hear employers complaining that the local college churns out more and more hairdressers and media studies people, but not the technicians they need in their factories. The reason is that the college is incentivised by the funding system to provide the courses asked for by students.”

    An obsession with university as the be-all and end-all of education has, says Mr Marshall, distracted the nation from creating a workforce skilled at all levels.


    “Tony Blair’s target of 50 per cent of pupils attending university was one of the most misguided policy ideas of the time – shovelling people into institutions without career prospects at the end. Sixty-five per cent of young people are never going to walk through the door of a university. Yet listening to our university-educated media, you would think universities are the only things that matter.”

    Employers, he says, are not fundamentally biased against homegrown applicants but will often choose foreigners because they solve the problem.

    “Our members say to us over and over again: I need the right person at the right time and I am not going to look at their ethnicity, just their suitability. Employers want the state to provide a base: people with literacy, numeracy, presentability, the ability to take instruction and solve problems. They say that if they are provided with these people they will do the rest – making them the best lathe turner or nuclear power worker. They want good raw material. What they resent is having to do the remedial work when the state and parents have failed.”

    Companies are now doing that remedial work, setting up training schemes to instill basic skills. Vocational education, says Mr Marshall, must stop being a political football and become a strategic national concern.

    “When we have a problem in this country, we re-badge something or change the institutional arrangements and hope it will go away; and two years later it is worse. It is a systemic problem. The solution is to be bold, be radical, make the reforms necessary and then stick with them.”

    Adam Dilworth has learned the hard way. Now 23, he graduated in microbiology from Liverpool University last year. He has applied for 25 jobs in management and sales without success, and has been working full-time in a university coffee shop, earning £14,000.

    “My school was very focused on getting degrees,” he says. “ I didn’t focus on the career I wanted; I thought I’d come out and be fine.

    “There are a lot of jobs out there but people aren’t willing to do them. My job is, without sounding snobby, beneath me. But a job’s a job.”
    I know it is a long article.. but very eye opening in a way.

    Sometimes everyone likes to blame that the reason things are the way they are is because of the class system... but yet the thousands of EU migrants coming over don't seem to have a problem?
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    Whilst a lot here is true, you can't put the entire 'jobless generation' problem down to this. There are also very few jobs. The job I'm currently in had 65 applicants in just the 23 hours it was open for. Only one person can have that job at the end.
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    TBH I thought that article was very poorly written. It is obviously written by somebody with a particular agenda to further and is quoting a lot of anecdotal evidence. The first part of the article is based around ONE example of an assessment centre for a sales job and some poorly performing graduate.

    Big deal this happens all the time. You could write an article saying there was a job somewhere and an engineering grad from Imperial turned up for interview and stuttered. Hence Imperial is crap and churns out unemployable grads.
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    Personally, I'd rather study something worthwhile and enjoyable than do a degree just to get a job in a festering system that's sinking into decline.
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    That's life these aren't skills you can learn in school, they are things that you either have or you don't.
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    (Original post by Rant)
    Personally, I'd rather study something worthwhile and enjoyable than do a degree just to get a job in a festering system that's sinking into decline.
    The whole point of a degree is to get a job. If you want to learn something because you enjoy it then use the internet.
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    the entire article can be summarized like this :

    "universities dont teach graduates the necessary skills which the jobs require, they present them with fascinating stuff which is often useless to employers just to make sure students dont loose interest."

    note: im not taking any sides here. I have summarized the article in a neutral/unbiased way.
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    (Original post by freedom1)
    The whole point of a degree is to get a job. If you want to learn something because you enjoy it then use the internet.
    correction , use public library.
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    (Original post by Rant)
    Personally, I'd rather study something worthwhile and enjoyable than do a degree just to get a job in a festering system that's sinking into decline.

    Riddle me this. Define worthwhile. Why should the taxpayer pay for a system that allows you to do a degree just because you like it?
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    Its often easier to blame the unemployed for being jobless than the economy for lack of suitable jobs which the article is doing. The fact it has to rely solely on anecdotal evidence means any conclusion it draws is unsupported and speculative.

    Perhaps the journalist writing the article and the sub editor who allow it to be published should be replaced their East European counterparts who will write an article based on facts rather than speculation.
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    (Original post by freedom1)
    The whole point of a degree is to get a job. If you want to learn something because you enjoy it then use the internet.
    Erm, I'm afraid not. Universities are places to learn. If everyone had that attitude, there would be no scientific advancements and we'd all be living in mud huts shovelling pig dung.
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    (Original post by viffer)



    Riddle me this. Define worthwhile. Why should the taxpayer pay for a system that allows you to do a degree just because you like it?
    good point...
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    All I'm going to say is this:

    You can aim for a degree which will guarantee (or is as likely to get you employment afterwards) whilst pursuing your real interests on the side, as if/when you do get into your graduate position and start bringing the bacon home, you have the disposable income to sink into more leisurely pursuits; be they amateur rocket science or study of social psychology.

    I used to be all for the 'study what you like to further your knowledge on the subject', though consider, if everyone did this, where would we be? At present, I'm of the view that I just mentioned previously: work hard, play your interests in the sidelines. If you're truly interested in such subjects, then you won't be 'too knackered to do anything after work', but ready and willing, non?
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    (Original post by viffer)



    Riddle me this. Define worthwhile. Why should the taxpayer pay for a system that allows you to do a degree just because you like it?
    Because intellectual study is the only hope this species has.
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    (Original post by viffer)



    Riddle me this. Define worthwhile. Why should the taxpayer pay for a system that allows you to do a degree just because you like it?
    they are slowly trying to shift the burden onto the individual person for this very reason.
    They have raised the fees and lowered the funding for the universities, havent they?

    by worthwhile he meant that something about the world he didnt knew about and always wanted to know more detail about. Regardless if its of any use to the industry or not.
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    (Original post by zedeneye1)
    correction , use public library.
    The internet has everything libraries have and more.
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    (Original post by Rant)
    Erm, I'm afraid not. Universities are places to learn. If everyone had that attitude, there would be no scientific advancements and we'd all be living in mud huts shovelling pig dung.
    Yet science was making advancements before universities even existed hmmmm I suppose the cavemen that first made fire had PhDs in knocking flint together
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    (Original post by freedom1)
    Yet science was making advancements before universities even existed hmmmm I suppose the cavemen that first made fire had PhDs in knocking flint together
    Civilisation has only advanced through great thinkers. Not through your average self-absorbed person who "just wants to get by".
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    (Original post by freedom1)
    The whole point of a degree is to get a job. If you want to learn something because you enjoy it then use the internet.
    Bunch of nonsense.
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    (Original post by Tommyjw)
    Bunch of nonsense.
    Everything you learn by doing a degree can be learned equally as well using the internet and/or books.

    If degrees did not give people an edge when getting a job nobody would get one. Why would people pay £9k per year to study something they can study for free if it didn't help them get a job?
 
 
 
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