Tag Archives: mp

The Future is Bleak: Career Guidance with Chris Grayling

28 Oct

True to this blog, three years on from becoming a graduate I am still struggling. At twenty five years old, I am very much part of the statistics that have been dominating the news for most of 2011. The youth employment rate is at it’s lowest for twenty years we are told. You can give us as many bar graphs and interactive graphics as you like, but none of this is particularly comforting as you settle down for another day of trawling the internet for the faintest glimmer of hope for your future. I just popped ‘faint glimmer of hope for the future’ into Google. Nada.

I have been ticking all the correct boxes in my attempt to make a career of writing, building a portfolio and taking on internships- but certain frustrations have begun to come to a head. It’s ever so easy to sit on the sofa in your pyjamas half-ranting about how unfair things are whilst being distracted by the latest laughable situation unfolding on The Jeremy Kyle Show, but I decided to be proactive. Instead of letting things stew, I thought I would take some action. I set to my laptop and I drafted a letter to the Conservative MP for employment, Chris Grayling. He is actually my local MP, someone that my community- including my parents- have put faith into since 2001. Let’s just say that after our interaction, I doubt my parents will be voting for him again.

Chris Grayling

He's not got as friendly a look as 'Dear Deirdre', but I hoped for some good advice nonetheless.

As I closed the email informing me of my latest job rejection, I decided that today was the day that I should share what was said.

I was pleased with my letter. I’d be happy to have sent it to Points of View, or the Queen. It sounded that accomplished- just give it a click and see.

 

Letter To Chris Grayling

I thought this was a perfectly fair and well-thought out point of argument. Work experience and internships are a necessity to so many careers as Grayling has pointed out himself on BBC Five Live recently;

One of the constant complaints from young people is the old adage: if you can’t get a job, you can’t get experience, but you can’t get a job unless you’ve got the experience.”

However, as more employers seem to realise this, the idea of an ‘internship’ is being totally abused. It feels like all too often they are simply used as a means to avoid paying young people for their hard work by exploiting their desperation to get a break in their choice of career.

Well, I had my fingers crossed. I sat expectantly looking at my emails, getting irritated by every offer for discount penis enlargement and chance to win an iPad that spammed my way. The day the response arrived I clicked on it as fast as my finger would let me.

There is no formal system in place unless the person concerned is on benefits.

‘Oh.’ I thought. ‘Mr Grayling seems to have forgotten how to write a letter to someone.’

Okay, so I didn’t expect a full ‘sender’s address in the top right, recipient in the bottom left’ jobby, but a ‘Dear Miss Sanderson’ would have been nice? Maybe even a ‘thankyou for your message, it’s good to hear from you’, but perhaps I’m getting confused with Jimmy Saville.

Oh and also, may I point out the thorough uselessness of this opening line given the fact I had already clearly stated that I’m apparently not allowed to be on benefits?

I have to say I share your misgivings about the way internships are used.

Well thank goodness for that. Maybe we don’t have to graffiti devil horns and a goatee onto every picture of him we see in the paper.

However it is easier said than done to stop – if an individual is willing to do the work, then banning it is difficult.

Did I ever say ‘ban’? I do appreciate that it would be difficult to ‘ban’ a widely used system that has been in place for decades, yes. It’s not The Human Centipede 2.

What we have done though is create a new work experience scheme were we are organising places in a wide variety of organisations for unemployed young people. They can stay on benefits for up to two months while doing work experience, and so far we have found it to be a pretty good way of getting people into work at the end of that period.

Well that’s brilliant. I researched this (because he didn’t bother letting me know what the scheme was called or tell me where I might find more information on it) and apparently it’s a scheme for those between the ages of 18 and 21, so there might be a bit of a problem for me there. There also seems to be that overlooking of the whole I’m-not-eligible-for-benefits thing, and that it isn’t necessarily the finding of internships that’s the problem.  According to the website:

“Work experience is getting the backing of some of Britain’s leading employers such as Homebase, Hilton Hotels, McDonalds, ISS Facilities Management, Chums, De Vere Hotels, Carillion, Coyle Personnel and Punch Taverns.”

So, I guess this still isn’t really answering any of my questions in regards to those seeking employment within the creative industries. Okay, so what else did Mr Grayling have to say?

My advice for someone in your position is always to take a job, whether or not it is in the area you are ultimately aiming for. As an example, if you worked for a major retailer, and succeeded in your career, it opens the opportunity to move into head office functions, including marketing and communications, and from there it is an easier step into what you are trying to do.

As we come to the crux of this solution, it would seem that Mr Grayling’s advice to me is as simple as ‘give up your ambitions and go work in a shop’.

The truth is that media jobs are ferociously in demand at the moment, and the opportunities to go directly from university into the media are very limited. So my advice is to work your way towards what you want to do in a more around and about way.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

I think this is the first time he has actually acknowledged the relevant career area at least, but the overwhelming sense of not being listened to before being fobbed off is as much of a kick in the gut as every job rejection that appears in my inbox.

It is with these words of advice ringing in my ears… well, eyes, I shall do everything I can to ignore absolutely everything that was said. As countless more young people find themselves lost and drowning in the job market in the months to come the government will wonder why it is that the population becomes more disheartened and agitated. Just ask Chris Grayling. He’s clearly the guy you should turn to in any crisis.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t get sent to help out on the phones at the Samaritans on a misguided publicity appearance any time soon.