An open letter to the coalition government – by Victor Brown-Villedieu

After seeing my article on The Guardian responding to Esther McVey’s “unemployed young people could just get a job as Costa” comments, politics grad and budding journalist Victor Brown-Villedieu came up with a few recommendations for the coalition government… Following @howtobejobless‘s article … Continue reading

Get a job at Costa? If only it was that simple for young people – The Guardian

Esther McVey

‘This may come as a shock [to Esther McVey], but there aren’t 941,000 jobs going at Costa Coffee. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

It’s that time again, folks: the tri-annual “unemployed young people are job snobs” festival. Pull on your wellies so we can all squelch in the mud of the same old nonsensical, prejudiced accusation. This time it comes from the employment minister, Esther McVey, who says young people must be prepared to lower their ambitions to get on in their careers. “You could be working at Costa,” she helpfully suggests, adding that young Britons are less prepared for the world of work than foreign migrants and “need to learn the basics”, such as turning up on time.

I wouldn’t want to be in McVey’s shoes right now – I’d rather work at Costa, as baristas don’t have to open the papers every morning and read about what a terrible job they’re doing. Instead, McVey is presiding over the highest youth unemployment levels since 1993: 941,000 people aged between 16 and 24 are out of work, 282,000 of whom have been jobless for a year or more. Her solution? Deflect the blame from the government, tap into the nation’s ageism and blame unemployed young people.

I take issue with this. To begin with, “young Britons don’t turn up on time” is quite a generalisation for a group several million strong. Can you really gauge a person’s timekeeping abilities by how recently they were born? Perhaps the assertion that foreign migrants are better prepared for the world of work has more to do with the fact that the desperation that sent them thousands of miles from home makes them easier to exploit, underpay and overwork.

This may come as a shock, but there aren’t 941,000 jobs going at Costa Coffee. Unemployment is soaring because demand for jobs exceeds availability. To hear McVey, you’d think the coffee chain was understaffed, managers bleating desperately for applications, tumbleweed blowing over the espresso machines. Yet a new branch of Costa in Mapperley, Nottingham, received 1,701 applications for eight positions after advertising in early December. I don’t know who got the jobs, but the coffee must be amazing.

McVey said jobseekers must be reminded that they have to “start at the bottom and work their way up”, rather than “expecting to walk into their dream job”. How fantastically patronising. Walking into our dream job is hardly an expectation in today’s intern-eat-intern world of work. That said, don’t tart up working at Costa as “starting at the bottom”, as if it’s a career move. Unless you’re going into coffee shop management, it isn’t. “Starting at the bottom” implies you’re at the foot of a ladder you intend to climb. Call it what it is: a low-paid stop-gap, a way to survive financially without benefits while chipping our way into the industry we’re actually qualified for – something plenty of young people are doing.

Also, we already started at the bottom. Our parents and teachers asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, and held it to ransom. We spent countless hours in meaningless exams: GCSEs, AS-levels, A-levels, BAs, MAs, even PhDs; not forgetting the unpaid internships (yet another barrier between us and employment) – because these were sold as tickets to where we wanted to go.

And now we’re snobs for wishing those miserable years had paid off. At this juncture, the only honest thing a politician could say about youth unemployment is: “We messed up the economy, you will not be getting what we promised you’d get in exchange for the years spent becoming educated, qualified and willing.”

Let’s see some babyboomer rage about Generation Jobless (my article on The Guardian)

ballot box on a table

‘By focusing all the visible damage on the young who so famously “don’t vote”, the generations are being divided and conquered.’ Photograph: Steve Taylor/Getty Images

If I were a babyboomer, I’d be furious. That might seem strange coming from someone who blogs about youth unemployment, a topic typically sprinkled with jealous references to how easy our parents had it (admittedly, a temptation I gave into once or twice). But this “us and them” dynamic between the generations has got to stop. And not just because, admittedly, they’re beating us – this isn’t me quitting because the game is unfair. I’ve expended enough energy denouncing David Cameron as a heartless, corporate-driven, boiled egg-faced tit; it’s time for some fury from the other side. It’s time for some babyboomer rage.

Every blow to the young – such as the slashing of benefits unless we’re earning (despite the lack of jobs) or learning (despite the whacking up of tuition fees) – seems to come with a boost for the older generation, like a triple-lock on state pensionsChris Huhne argues that because thevoting turnout is more than 30% higher in the pensioner age group than the 18-24s, politicians pander to them to the point that we’re living an a “gerontocracy”. It’s a clever illusion, that they’re rewarding the older generations, their “loyal voters”, at the expense of the young – but an illusion it is.

To begin with, triple-locked or not, pensions aren’t a gift from the taxpayer. They’re pre-earned. They’re as much a generosity as having a party in a stranger’s house, and saying: “Sorry about the damage. We triple-promise not to steal anything (else).”

But the pension triple lock isn’t even decent “compensation” for the collateral damage of the youth crisis. In her smart and sensitive comment piece, Jackie Ashley argued that “an injury to one is an injury to all” because we live in families, which are by their nature multigenerational. But the injury casued to the older generations by the youth crisis is even more direct and blunt than familial concern. Has nobody noticed how often a blow to the younger generation leads to babyboomers footing the bill?

The generation we have been repeatedly told to envy are the first who have to care for the generations either side of them – not only their parents who may need help in their old age, but their adult children. When young people were stripped of job opportunities, benefits, and the affordable roofs we so naively thought would come with our degrees, we became the Boomerang Generation. In the past decade and a half, according to the Economist, about 3.2 million 20- to 34-year-olds have gone back to live with mum and dad.

It is sad for the young people who probably envisaged a more independent life and can be horrendous for their sense of self-worth – but it’s not brilliant for parents either. Having their adult children back is like a middle-class bedroom tax – the government haven’t fixed the economy, the housing or job markets, so they’ve passed the cost of the generation on to the boomers.

Aside from the financial burden, the youth crisis must pack a nasty emotional punch to the older generation because through no fault of their own, they’ve failed as parents, in part.

They did everything they were supposed to; they sent us to school and university, convinced us to study so we’d have the freedom to choose our careers. Yet the result is a generation facing unemployment, or career ascension so slow and internship-ridden they may never afford to buy a house or have a family of their own. Was it their aim to spawn Generation Jobless who, according to World Health Organisation, are apublic health timebomb? Of course not. The most fundamental aim of parenting is surely to make sure your kid will be OK. Isn’t it maddening that, despite doing everything right, they’re not?

So how does a 2.5% increase in pre-earned state pensions, a cynical lunge for the rudely named “grey vote”, make up for any of that? It doesn’t. But by focusing all the visible damage on the young who so famously “don’t vote”, the generations are being divided and conquered. The “selfish, shortsighted old” versus the hard done-by young. God forbid we should all fight for the same thing – a stable economy, a functioning job market, houses we could conceivably end up buying without a nifty inheritance-tax dodge, a winning lottery ticket or an act of God. Maybe if we did, boomers wouldn’t refer to their own money as “the kids’ inheritance”, as if they’ve already outstayed their welcome just by continuing to live alongside their struggling offspring.

The “mustn’t grumble” generation need to start fuming along with the young. Like it or not, an angry generation of 18 to 24-year-olds is a nuisance; at this point the only clout we could claim would be a mass withholding of grandchildren. But an angry mob of babyboomers might actually effect change. Let’s see some boomer rage for the raw deal we’ve all been dealt.

On GoThinkBig: This barber got a job using Instagram and you could too

Getting your mitts all over the digital world is your best bet for standing out and creating an online presence that will make potential employers salivate all over your CV. Check out the following story from GoThinkBig on the barber who landed a job with his mad Instagram skills…
This barber got a job using Instagram and you could too

So how do you get a job without having to write a CV or a cover letter? Instagram, apparently.

A barber in America landed himself a new job purely off the strength of his use of hashtags and filters on Instagram – he even found out about the job through the photo sharing network.

Clark Walker was studying to be a doctor before he dropped out two years ago having realised it wasn’t his dream anymore. So he enrolled in barber school and started learning the trade. Within the first week he found out that many barbers were using Instagram to post pictures of their work and also to connect with other shops and pros across the world. So Clark started his own account. A few weeks later he uploaded his first client’s image.

The first picture didn’t receive an amazing response, a couple of likes and that’s it. But Clark was just getting started. He kept going, learning more about hashtags and finding other barbers to follow and interact with.

After finishing barber school, Clark started working in a shop in Utah but he carried on Instagramming. After about a year, he and his family decided to move to New York.

Coincidentally, around the same time, Fellow Barber, a barber shop in New York that Clark followed on Instagram, put an image up saying that they were hiring. “I commented on the photo and said I’d be moving to New York soon and was interested in working there,” Clark told Mashable. “They responded right away and told me to get in touch with them once I was in the city.”

A few weeks later, Clark and his family moved to New York City and he popped in to meet the staff at Fellow Barber. A few test haircuts and an informal interview later, and the job was his. “It was the easiest ‘interviewing’ process ever – it was essentially all through Instagram,” Clark says.

Make Instagram work for your job hunt

Obviously not all industries are going to be suited to a job hunt solely through Instagram (sorry aspiring nurses and doctors!). But for a lot of creative industries you could find that potential employers will be impressed by the work that you showcase on your Instagram profile. So here’s some tips on getting your work seen by the right people:

  • Use hashtags – one of the best ways of making sure people are looking at your pictures is to make use of relevant hashtags. Obviously don’t overdo it, your whole caption does not need to be hashtagged as separate words.
  • Follow other people in the same industry – if you want people to start following your feed, follow theirs first. A lot of people will check out who their new followers are and may even have a quick glance at your photos.
  • Be an active follower – following someone in the same industry is great. Interacting with them is even better. Like their posts, comment on their pictures. Obviously don’t be a stalker, save the likes and comments to the photos that are relevant to your dream job – a restraining order is not going to help you get a job.
  • Post fewer pictures of your food – it’s a bit of a cliché of Instagram that all anyone does is post pictures of what they’re eating. But if you want your Instagram work for your career, don’t clog it up with pictures of your lunch – unless food photography is what you want to get into.

If you liked this, have a look at…

Jobless and desperate? There’s always fraud: “$40k a year to attend Harvard University as me”

When you need a job, you’ll consider almost anything. Insultingly-paid internships, flyering, looking for dropped tenners on the street – it can even be tempting to say yes to decidedly dodgy-sounding work.

In fact, in the hope that we’d get a job one day, many of us went to university. We went to the lectures, pulled the all-nighters, handed in scrawled essays on a Pro-Plus comedown. Sod that, thought the author of the ad below. I’ll just pay some bugger to do that for me, and reap the rewards. Fraud. What could possibly go wrong?

harvard university craigslist studentPosting this ad suggests not only a rather loose set of morals, but a massive lack of faith in the university system. He clearly thinks he needs a degree, yet also seems confident he can function perfectly well without whatever knowledge it imparts.

I have to say, this position is underpaid. This isn’t $40 a year to do a degree, it’s also to:

– never meet anyone you intend to stay with, as you’ll either have to lie to them about who you are forever (impractical, as the advertiser will presumably re-assume his identity after you graduate), or tell them what you’re up to (inadvisable: it’s pretty naughty and they might tell, especially if you ever break up with them or like another girl’s Facebook statuses too often)

– never let anyone take a photo of you, lest it end up on the fabled Facebook, thereby providing the world with startlingly clear evidence that you had an entirely different face and body to the one you had post-graduation.

– in fact, you should probably never make any friends, or speak to anyone, or tell anyone except the examiners your name. Should be a fun few years, Dracula.

– be a criminal. A potentially incarcerated criminal, surely? But don’t worry, I’m sure the statute of limitations on defrauding a rich, powerful and incredibly proud institution like Harvard University is, like, 11 seconds. You’ll be fine.

JK Rowling: The Fringe Benefits of Failure

There are few mantras repeated so often and so involuntarily by the jobseeker’s brain as, “I am a failure”. While I still bang the drum of you’re not as behind as you think you are, JK Rowling – who was “jobless…and as poor as it’s possible to be without being homeless” – has a few words of wisdom on the solid foundations of rock bottom

On The Daily Mash: Young people just going to change pension age back later

In yet another brilliant article, The Daily Mash points out why the youth of today aren’t as screwed as the media insists we are – because babyboomers won’t always be in charge to throw everything in their wrinkly favour.

YOUNG people have announced plans to lower the pension age by several decades once they’re in charge.

Will overpower a 78-year-old George Osborne

Nail artist Emma Bradford, aged 19, said: “I have to retire at 70 to pay for my granny to retire at 62? Yeah, sounds perfectly fair to me.

“Or here’s another plan: how about we wait until all the government are dead, then just switch it back?”

22-year-old trainee lawyer Tom Logan said: “This government telling us what’s going to be happening in 2063 is like a mayfly making big plans for next month.

“So if they’re in power until 2020 at the latest, and me and my mates get into government in 2040, that still gives us what, 20 years to change that back?

“Pretty sure we’ll manage it. It’ll be our second priority after legalising euthanasia.”

Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander said: “We cannot ignore the deficit, so the only responsible thing to do is to leave all our unpaid bills for young people who can’t get jobs.

“There is a slight risk that, when they’ve got all the money and power, the younger generation may act in their own selfish interest.

“But our society holds the elderly in such esteem that I think we can discount that.”

Ben Goldacre: “We should be grateful to the young…and pray that they don’t turn”

Millennials spend quite a lot of time fielding senseless criticism and ill-informed insults from, well, everyone. Luckily, there are enough people who have read the papers closely enough to know the truth. A genuine thank you to people like the fantastic Ben Goldacre, for pointing out certain facts,like…the fact that WE’LL be the ones paying off the babyboomers’ national debt. No, you’re welcome, really. As he says, “We should be grateful to the young, not rude, and pray that they do not turn.”