Leaders: Attitudes towards work are in dire need of repair
CAR sales and servicing company Arnold Clark has concluded it is “sad and disheartening” to discover that, in its view, more than 80 per cent of young Scots applying to it for work are “unsuitable for any employment”. It says it found that youngsters it hoped to recruit as apprentices had wholly unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, a poor attitude to others and were taken aback at the working hours expected of them.
At a time when youth unemployment is high, it might have seemed reasonable to expect young people to be clamouring for a job, particularly if it were one in which they earn recognised qualifications. Yet the picture Arnold Clark paints in a submission to MSPs investigating how to make young people more employable, is exactly the opposite.
It is not clear if Arnold Clark’s experience is replicated across other companies. And, of course, it may be that Arnold Clark’s expectations of clamouring youths might have been too high and that youths have a limit to what they are expected to do even in the depths of recession. But if we accept their views as a fair picture of the attitude of young people who went to it looking for jobs, and it seems reasonable to do so, the findings pose a huge problem for politicians. The company accepts it recruits from the academically low-achieving end of the spectrum.
There is a fundamental question here. Do we really believe that today’s generation is innately lazy, unambitious and incapable of functioning in a workplace? To do so would be absurd. In any group of people there will be a range of industriousness, application and intelligence, but for four out of five to fall at the most basic level there is obviously a problem with how they are being prepared for the workplace.
In fact, this is the conclusion that Arnold Clark came to, and the company believes that more can be done to help get young people in to employment.
Perhaps now with schools being judged on exam results and the percentage of pupils going on to higher and further education that is where their resource is focussed.
But Arnold Clark also reserves some of its strongest criticism for the further education colleges. There is no doubt that the economics of the colleges, number of students they take on, and how they prepare them for the workplace is worthy of a closer look.
Young people first develop their attitudes towards society in the home, so parents must take primary responsibility. Much pressure is on modern parents, not only to protect their children but to give them material goods and experiences seen now as part of life. If parents fail and the task falls to teachers, the vast majority in the profession will do their damnedest to try to ensure that pupils develop the skills important to secure employment. But the big question is whether our education system is set up to do so.
Flaming cheek? Not really …
According to the International Olympic Committee’s official charter, Olympism – yes, such a word exists – is “a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind”. Olympism, the charter records, seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal ethical principles.
Noble sentiments which one can imagine being sonorously intoned as the Games open in London and which complement the spirit of the Olympics of achievement though endeavour, fair play and bettering oneself physically, mentally and philosophically through sport.
Yet despite such laudable idealism the harsh realities of modern life have already intruded with the news that Olympic flame carriers in the United Kingdom have rushed to put their torch on sale online to the highest bidder. Some who have done so maintain all the proceeds will go to charity, yet a number of others have failed to make the same principled pledge and we must presume they will personally reap the benefits of the internet auction.
While the hurry to put the torches on sale may be unseemly, and out of keeping with Olympian ideal, do the actions of these people really merit the condemnation they have faced? In the past Olympic medals – and no doubt old torches – were put up for sale at traditional auctions. No-one complained.
What is happening is, therefore, not new, only the method of sale has changed. The torch sales are not, therefore, a symptom of modern moral decline, but more of the emergence of a modern digital market place.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west