Monday, February 01, 2010

Blame it all on your dad

This amusing article appeared in in the Sunday papers about a hapless Yoof who blames his workless plight on “the boomers”. A bit like wasps, every year we get a swarm of these articles, all whining about the same argument.

This sentence gives you a feel for what is to follow: “a university-¬educated man shouldn't experience this (unemployment). I amassed student debt in the belief that graduation would be followed by a huge bubble bath filled with sexy young jobs and beautiful, cigar-smoking status symbols.Not joblessness.”

Words like naïve, fool, dimwit and cretin start forming in my mind. Words like certifiable half-wit start forming when you then learn that our “university educated man” has a journalism qualification from Darlington College. That is not Darlington College Oxford or Cambridge it is Darlington College Darlington.

The article then moves on to the blame game.
"People are feeling incredibly angry," Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, told me. "They have debts in excess of £20,000 after being told they would get a job at the end of their degree and earn more money. Instead they're just heavily indebted."

The anger is due to intergenerational unfairness. Baby boomers had free education, affordable houses, fat pensions, early retirement and second homes (150,000 at the last census).

This emotional waffle is not worth the time rebutting. During one of the previous bouts of Booomer bashing I had a letter published in the FT that provides some of obvious responses. This might be on subscription only.

In February, David Willetts (a senior and very bright Conservative MP) has a book being published called "The Pinch: How the Baby Boomers Took Their Children's Future - And Why They Should Give it Back”. One thing is for certain; his arguments will be worth the time understanding. I suspect I may not agree with him but you can be certain they will be marshalled with precision.

Do we have a problem with youth unemployment – absolutely? So somebody must be to blame, mustn’t they? The reasons we are where we are results from a much more complicated set of interactions than our chum with his 2:2 in journalism is likely to understand. That fact alone is part of the problem.

Let me give you an example. Every month the Office for National Statistics publishes a detailed analysis about the employment scene in the UK. Every month there is one section of the analysis that always seems to be ignored by the media. I quote from the January bulletin: “The number of UK born people in employment was 25.31 million in the three months to September 2009, down 457,000 on a year earlier. The number of non-UK born people in employment was 3.68 million, down 45,000 from a year earlier.

Look at the way the recession seems to have had a disproportional impact on the UK’s indigenous population compared to those not born in our shores.

Maybe, just maybe, part of the explanation for our journalistic chum’s plight is the 3,680,000 people who now work in the UK who were not around when his dad was looking for a job. Secondly, maybe, just maybe, this group have a better work ethic than a lot of my fellow Brits.

Belive it or not, I do feel sorry for this guy and those of his generation, but trying to apportion blame, in this crude idiotic way will not help him one jot.

If you have stuck with this stream of consciousness then there is one 50-plus marketing message to take away. Is it better to spend your marketing bucks targeting our Darlington College graduate or his parent’s generation. Dick Stroud

1 comment:

DickStroud said...

Brian Groom in today’s FT seems to be a man who shares my views on the Boomer bashing frenzy.