Why working at Costa is my own fault

Our resident overqualified barista, Josh Adcock, is back! And today he’s going to tell us why working at Costa is his own damn fault. IDIOT.


This is not Josh Adcock


Why is it that graduates are struggling to find employment post-university at the moment? If recent government reports have demonstrated anything clearly, it’s that the economy is growing, Britain as a whole, on average, but especially the property-owning, London-based middle classes, are at least as wealthy now as they were in 2007 just before the crash, and more people are employed now than at any point since the recession, working on lower wages and often in questionable circumstances, but working, nonetheless, and not scrounging off the state, which pays its bills out of the pocket of the taxpayer, including the minimum-wage earning taxpayer, who is rightly outraged that the unemployed are living the life of Riley, searching for jobs all day long, rather than working in similar, hard to find, low paid jobs.

We live in a post-scarcity society, at least with regard to university places: there’s a place for you somewhere, if you work hard enough and lower your expectations enough. In order to prove yourself as a member of the superior cornflake crowd and wriggle to the top of the packet, and thereby claim a position at one of the oldest and best Universities, you’ll need guts, determination and one steaming pile of nepotistic advantage. By which I of course mean that you’ll need to have been educated at a proper school which adheres to the Gove protocols, and includes rigid examination, pedigree, canon-bashing narrow focus on the more edifying aspects of national culture, and, of course, money. And rightly so. So, if ever more youngsters are continuing to find places at universities then why are jobs so hard to come by? Perhaps the recession has caused employers to tighten their belts and stop training and recruiting graduates without the necessary experience, thereby making many industries a closed shop. Some in the media would have you believe all of this, but the truth can only be that graduates who have slogged through GCSEs, A-levels and at least three years of a degree, are simply not trying hard enough, and expect too much.

I do understand, to an extent, the uproar which followed in the wake of Esther McVey’s comments back in January, and the criticism of the government in general: times are tough, people have had to tighten their belts, cancel credit cards, sell the fancy car, subsist on support from food banks, face bankruptcy, develop depression, and generally lower their life-long career ambitions and lifestyle expectations a tad. However, I don’t think that the backlash against McVey is entirely warranted. It’s my generation’s fault for thinking too highly of ourselves, and doing useless degrees. In fact the rate at which graduates are securing jobs with a graduate-level salary is so atrocious that the government expects to have written off approximately 49p out of every pound of student loan lent to aspiring young professionals since the introduction of the higher, £9000 tuition fee cap four years ago. For shame, graduates of the UK. You’re just not trying hard enough. I mean, it’s not as though half of all graduates are still looking for work six months after graduating. Only 40% are. And it’s not like those are all terribly underpaid jobs which don’t require a degree; only 47% are. Besides, overall, real unemployment is going down, right? It’s not as though the government would only selectively present statistics which make the situation seem better than it really is, would they? 

Could there be a better way of organising our workforce, of managing the economy such that both those people with qualifications and training, and those without good academic qualifications alike could be utilised to their greatest capacity, matching an unskilled labour force which is currently bearing the brunt of unemployment with unskilled jobs, and university graduates with skilled, salaried employment? Could there be a way of funding university courses other than the current one, in which even Wonga wouldn’t want to buy the bad debt accumulated by the government? No. Of course not. Because the predicament we’re in is the fault of a lazy workforce, who feel that they should at least be able to earn enough to repay their student loans. But they don’t deserve that, because to acknowledge the decreasing value of a degree would be to admit that the whole current economic and employment model doesn’t really work that well.

So I deserve to work at Costa, at least for the foreseeable future, because I had the audacity to think that a degree might eventually pay for itself, and that there would be a system in place once I graduated to help me take the first few steps on that ladder. I haven’t ploughed enough of my hard-earned money into a string of unpaid internships, and secure a graduate job. It’s my own fault that I didn’t force my parents to save thousands of pounds for my graduate-job-hunt, or relocate to another part of the country which would allow me to commute to work at an unpaid internship for free, or foster connections with industry high-ups in the relevant industries and companies. It’s also my own fault for not choosing to have parents who work in a well established industry into which I could follow them. If I had done my utmost to be born into a family with connections and influence, then I would be really outraged at having to work at Costa: if I had ambitions to become a minister or special advisor, for instance, I wouldn’t want my CV sullied with the name of a coffee chain. Heaven forfend. I’d have been happy with nothing less than a free pass into the head offices of a major political party, backed up by a phone call from Buckingham Palace, generated by the necessary connections accumulated from within the Old-Etonian, Old-Oxbridgian social circle. That only seems fair to me. But, as it is, I don’t have those things, and, yes, after careful consideration, I do believe that McVey is correct: I should lower my ambitions. In a few years, who knows, I could even be a manager, and earn as much in a year as my friends who had the good fortune to get onto grad schemes straight out of university could earn in six months. Perhaps one day I could even be a regional manager, undertaking the great and honourable task of surveying and ensuring the quality all the lattes across the land. That’s what I got into £25,000 of debt for, that’s why I spent three years of my life studying and learning an extinct, medieval language. So that I could, in time, perfect my chocolate sprinkle dusting technique, in the hopes of making the day of an overpaid sales executive with two GCSEs just that little bit more special.

One thought on “Why working at Costa is my own fault

  1. Of course it isn’t just the money. All the hours I laboured in Hallward Library (University of Nottingham) under the misapprehension that a First from a Russell Group university might – while not being a meal ticket for life – actually impress an employer. Might make them sit up and take notice of me!

    I think this blog hits the right note. You have to laugh or you would cry!

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