Vince Cable recently featured on a panel discussing the apprenticeship levy and career prospects for young people. A co-panelist had two main points to make regarding poor career advice and unemployment.
- Jobs arent promoted in the correct way for young people??theyre in the paper or, heaven forbid, on page 2 of Google where you can hide a dead body. Young people dont read the paper.
- Companies are promoting jobs of type X when they want jobs of type Y. Why would a young person apply for your rubbish job when theyd prefer a whizzy one.
The comments drew attention and a smattering of applause. However, Im not sure people truly digested the implications contained within these throwaway lines. In fact, the statements embody an attitude that seems to be pervasive with todays dopamine-addicted, social media generation??one of immediate gratification and spoon feeding.
Work is about exchanging skill and time for money. Money is a vehicle for exchanging value. In order for someone to provide you with value (money), you have to provide value in return (skills, time). Valuable skills require cultivation, hard work and dedication. Proving you can deliver valuable skills requires time and investment in building a track record. The best premier league footballers get paid the most because they can deliver skill to a high level, under pressure and with consistency. Theyve developed this ability over thousands of hours of practice.
Id argue that if you arent willing to click to page 2 on Google to find a job then you probably dont deserve one. Necessity is the mother of innovation. If I really needed a job, I would stop at no obstacle to find one. If jobs are advertised in the newspaper, guess where Ill be looking?
If anything, these barriers are filters for companies. Making it even slightly hard to find a job advert acts as a sift thatll weed out the less dedicated.
Blaming companies for not providing the crutch for young people to lean on is an irresponsible and disempowering message to spread. The world is more similar to 100 years ago than it is different. Our grandparents generation had a grit and determination that now seems alien. Success is still a product of hard work and perseverance. If youd rather look at your smartphone than leaf the papers where the jobs are, then you deserve your lot in life.
The economy dictates the types of jobs that are available. If these jobs are a source of drudgery, then thats tough luck. Id love to post selfies all day for a job (actually, I wouldnt. I take a terrible selfie) but, unless youre Kim Kardashian, theres no value to anybody. People may cite Instagram sensation X, footballer Y or pop star Z as an example of following your passion. These people make the news as they are an anomaly. Outliers are newsworthy. However, the majority of people occupy mundane jobs.
You may say that Im killing passion. Im not. I know the people who really are dedicated to their passion will get up at 5am to practice, attend work at 9, and then practice when they get home. The people whose passion Ive killed with the previous sentence will be the ones padding through their Twitter feed bemoaning lack of opportunity, poor career advice and all of the other excuses that define underachievement.
The world is what it is. It has been this way for long before you were born and it will be so long after you are gone. Your job is to navigate the course through life. Navigation requires planning and execution. If you wait for the worlds rotation to get you to your destination, then youll stand still. Spreading the message that the responsibility for unemployment and lack of career prospects is someone elses fault is irresponsible.
We need to teach young people to dig in and to be resilient. We need to teach them that, sometimes, the world works differently to how we would like. Thats OK, but our response will determine what happens next. If that means taking a crappy job and working your nuts off to get noticed, guess what you have to do .
To the people for whom that advice is hard to digest, keep refreshing page 1 of Google to see if your dream job magically appears.