Question of values

Joyce McMillan’s excellent piece (Perspective, 13 April) about the plight of the poor elderly chimed with your report earlier last week about the difficulties of young graduates in the jobs market.

Both stories illustrate the problem our society has with valuing all of its members: those who appear to make money, or those who claim to have substantial “management” responsibilities, are esteemed at the expense of those who are seeking to find a niche in the world of work, those who perform “caring” jobs, such as nursing or childcare, and those who may not be earning money but are providing the “glue” that sticks societies together.

It is ironic that nursery nurses, for example, who arguably are in the most highly responsible job of looking after young and vulnerable children, are often paid less than a clerical worker. I guess that many retired people are providing this service free for younger relatives.

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The other issue is that many people who are in the highly-paid jobs often complain that they are working more than 60 hours a week and have no time to enjoy their significant salaries. We must have a pretty dysfunctional view of economics if we can’t work out a way to share work out better, and it’s surely no excuse that some people are highly paid because they are the only ones able to do these jobs – what happened to training and development?

Gerry Hassan recently commented on the current challenges that beset the UK as a whole, such as widespread disaffection with the political system, a crumbling NHS and a moribund capitalist economy. He suggested an independent Scotland could be built along better lines, and a key principle surely ought to be a more equitable employment system where young people and old, specialist, technical and caring support roles are all valued for their contribution to a fair society.

Dr Mary Brown

Dalvenie Road

Banchory, Aberdeenshire