Tag Archives: politics

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.


One word pie, word mash and a pint of words please.

7 May

Yes, that is on the menu today, for I am well and truly going to EAT MY WORDS.

I would like to draw attention to yesterday’s post, in which I closed with the following; and I quote,

‘I have to stay at work til… potentially… 8am. With about 2 people stopping in for an orange squash and watch the results on television.’

For those who don’t know, I work in a bar. It was to be kept open last night for the election results and to provide a place for the local students to have a place to have a drink and watch this potentially momentous occasion. I seriously did think I was going to have a quiet night on my hands. To put this into perspective, I nearly made myself late for work by turning back from my route for the bus stop to go back to the shop to actually PURCHASE the day’s Manchester Evening News in order to have the crossword page… I usually have to decline offers of free copies of these about three times per walked yard.  Then I got to work.

Think of a number between one and ten. Times that by your mother’s date of birth. Then divide that by the number of Abba songs you can think of without googling. Then you’ve got a rough ballpark figure of how many people were there, all psyched up on stereotypically student brand of dilute nihilism and alcopops.

Look how reserved and cool old Gordo was back in the day before he started offending pensioners on their way to Greggs. I can’t imagine such a hip freckled youngster asking for six shots of sambuca and a ‘snakey b’ before shredding up seven beermats into an explosive confetti of sexual frustration all over the floor at 4.30am. A dry sherry, maybe.

Actually, thankfully there were no requests for ‘snakey b’ at all last night. I don’t know whether its just my word snobbery or the fact that I have my moments of being not totally unlike a middle aged woman trapped in the body of a twenty something… but I really hate a lot of the abbreviations knocking about in youf speek. I h8 abbrev. What smartarse thought it’d be clever to give the word abbreviation an abbreviation anyway? It has the same effect on my mind as when you see a mirror in a mirror in a mirror in a mirror…

Yes I get a few awful ones working in a bar. ‘San Mig.’ ‘Bow and Black’. One, which thankfully was asked of a friend and not me was ‘a pint of numbers’… as in Kronenbourg… 1664… makes my  skin actually crawl. All too often its easy to look at a customer when you’re in a bad mood and think that they are a wretched person. Don’t go giving me any more mental ammunition by having you thinking that you’re Danny Dyer. That’s like aspiring to be the next Saddam Hussein. But more mockney. Maybe Saddam’s wrongdoings would have seemed less heinous if he had been a mockney. Or worse I suppose from the view of a northerner. His last meal on death row would have consisted of more jellied eels and pie, mash n’ liquor.

My least favourite abbrev.-ing has to be this ‘FTW’ and ‘FML’-ing buzzing around at the minute like a fly circling your head in a circle of eight while you’re trying to sleep… so you have to get up and grope your way towards the light switch, wince at the harsh brightness, select a suitable means of roll-able retribution device for whacking… {can take time, you don’t want to get the mashed corpse of an insect on your homework}… basically what I’m trying to say is such phrases irritate me. But talking of twilight insect based trauma… nothing will ever beat that night where I was in bed dreaming away; then inexplicably in my dream a clip of some kind kept attaching himself to my finger which I had to keep removing. It happened so many times in this dream that I woke up.

‘Hmm,’ young Lucy thought; ‘there really is something on my finger. Its a bit dark to see… what the hell is this?’

I went across my dark bedroom to turn on the light switch. What I saw hanging on for dear life from my index finger was ONE OF THESE. (This particular one wasn’t German, but some British people of a certain age might say it would have made him all the more menacing.)

Actually, I feel this particular story amply illustrates the horrors of last night.

In true election fashion, I have decided to provide this bloglet with a graph that Jeremy Vine himself would be pleased to analyse. You can easily see the trend of my state of mind with every constituency that would be announced. [N.B. this is clearly complete and utter nonsensical data. I just liked the electionesque inclusion.]

Yes, you can clearly spot a swing into the realms of despair and heartbreak.

This is a public announcement.

6 May

I feel like I’ve accidentally turned myself into fodder for a healthy eating campaign. I haven’t consumed a meal like a real person is meant to for a good week and a half, and I feel thoroughly basted in alcohol. I am forever sleepy, my skins gone a bit like something you could find on the shelves in B&Q {no…no, not decking. Or paving you fool. No…Sandpaper. Obv. Cripes, why do I bother.} I need to end this trend and get my sparkle back. You could whack a camcorder in front of me and call me Jimmy,  get one of those textbook well spoken voice overs to narrate my wrong doings and I shall be a wealth of knowledge for all. I wouldn’t mind so much… I’ve always been a fan of those terrifying public information adverts. This is possibly my new favourite which I stumbled across.  Maybe I am a bit too young to remember the days where fridges would roam the land killing children willy nilly. I’m more from generation paedo, on the cusp of sweets-from-strangers as my childhood threats.

I want to start talking that more often. Sweet, gentile, then punctured by a bold and terrifying statement like a projectile object slamming you in the face to stop you snoring.

Purely for the use of the phrases ‘But Bob’s not your uncle, nor any other kind of relative’ and ‘Have a look young fellow-me-lad’ I couldn’t resist but share this.

So… why am I banging on about this again? Oh yes, well, about two weeks ago I did the whole health kick thing, was eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and such. I also revelled in the wholesomeness of said kick because I was going to my local butcher and greengrocers. I was drifting around as if I lived in the village in Midsomer Murders, sans death, and I could greet my local tradesmen, comment on their weekends, wear a bonnet and carry a basket over my arm with a bunch of daffodils poking out of the side. All of this, is actually true except for the bonnet and basket. There really was a day with daffodils. And there was also a day where I ended up going to the butcher no less than thrice… I think we ran out of material to converse over. Weekend was covered in the first trip, meat choices in the second. Think third became a combo deal of weekend’s options to use said meat choices. I did do the obligatory bouncing out of the shop cheerfully with a wave goodbye held aloft over my head like they do in films.

Well, needles to say, {I apologise for the inevitable Alan-Partridge-based-smatterings which will crop up in these bloglets} this whole way of life went for a burton.  I do have a whole selection of fruit sat getting furry in my cupboard. I will try and salvage that pineapple by hook or by crook. Mould is a bit of a strange thing. I was an even bigger scruff in my first and second…possibly third year of university…maybe the year after too? Essentially, its a trend just about petering out now.

But there was a time in my second year I remember where I reckon I could have got done for plagiarising Tracy Emin’s messy bedroom. I would argue that it was a homage in the context of a nuclear holocaust. I’m talking… more knackered plates on the floor than a Greek Taverna, more dirty underwear than a pervert’s ‘special drawer’, all kind of unspeakable rubbish which even I am not daring to write on here. I think the only reason I didn’t have mice is that they favoured the gutter.  But amid all of this chaos there were also little cups in which used tasty beverages used to dwell, where mould had gone and hustled in like a big fat cuckoo. So long though, that they were like little worlds living in there and they were super pretty and that. This, of course, was only what I thought once I had stopped heaving a bit. I do hope that they weren’t actually little worlds that I destroyed. I’d like to be a good and kind God. Not one that smote the populus with a blase squirt of anti-bacterial washing up liquid across the land.

As a result of this chapter of my life I am possibly the only one in the ‘normal’ sector of society that feels hypocritical tutting and scorning the creatures whose homes star on ‘How Clean is Your House?’ … just falling short of ‘Life of Grime’. But only because I can vouch for the fact that my room in second year lacked any human corpses beneath the debris. And that is only because I wanted my deposit back when I moved out.

So, today, I am going back to my old pal the butcher. And I will try and make some kind of fruity treat. And so help me, I will start drinking some water. Oh yes and vote… never done that before and my fear has caused me to watch an online video from the video telling me what will happen to him. Like letting go of your kid at school for the first time. Which, incidentally, will be where I will be leaving my ballot paper.

My election day story will be slightly different to yours in that I have to stay at work til… potentially… 8am. With about 2 people stopping in for an orange squash and watch the results on television. Don’t expect an early post tomorrow. Happy voting!

p.s. For those still guessing….

1) Uruguay

2) Algeria…. ‘I’ll jeer at ya’ …

3) Ghana… ‘You’re not GHANA get this’…

4) Cameroon… as in David Camero-O-n… personal favourite.

5) Brazil

6) Portugal… Port, ‘gal’

7) Ivory Coast

8 ) Netherlands

9) Paraguay