« The scandal of population control | Main | The economic cost of loneliness »

Home and family
20 April 2012

Youth unemployment or unemployable youth?

This week, employment minister Chris Grayling urged employers to ‘hire a hoodie’ – a reference to British-born young people often passed over in favour of more easily employable immigrants.

But why do many employers prefer immigrant labour in the first place? Interviewed in Foreign Policy about America’s parallel youth unemployment crisis, Edward Luce – the Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times – identifies a cultural problem:

  • “…the swing towards celebrating the child, elevating the child, over-praising the child, boosting constantly at every opportunity the self-esteem of the child, assuming the child is a fragile little eggshell that can be broken at any moment, is something quite un-immigrant and therefore quite un-American, and also a great disservice to the child.”
  • “…this is a cultural problem at the ground level with how kids' minds are prepared for the future. And if the future is about minds, it's not a trivial alarm to raise… I should add that exactly the same problems are visible and talked about in Britain.”

Quoting the words of a frustrated would-be employer, Rod Dreher points out that children raised in this way do not grow into ideal employees:

  • “I’ve interviewed a bunch of them for jobs, and it’s always the same thing. They’re always like, ‘Well, I think this job would be good for me, it would fit my needs and desires in this way and that way,’ et cetera. It’s the craziest thing. They really do see interviewing for a job as a favor they’re doing me and my company, deigning to submit their wonderful selves for my consideration…
  • “I can’t figure it out. Is this what being raised by helicopter parents does to you? At first I thought it was just the job candidates I was talking to, but it turns out that just about every one of the millennials I’ve interviewed has the same damn attitude.”

According to Edward Luce it took us decades to get into this situation and it will take us decades to get out of it. But we do not have decades. Those “damn attitudes” have to change and change fast.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.

Register to get The Deep End delivered to your inbox.