Tag Archives: the kids aren’t alright

“Kids today, they aren’t as employable as they used to be!” says recruitment firm

March 1st, 2012

Some PR stories follow so clear a rule of thumb it becomes redundant to go into too much detail – a great example of this is recruitment PR. Take this tale from the Daily Mail and Daily Express, which tells of a generation of employees who are totally unequipped for the workplace:

BOSSES BAFFLED BY ‘TEXT SPEAK’ OF YOUNGSTERS WHO CAN’T WRITE

SCHOOL leavers are being sent back to the classroom by their employers to “de-text” their language.

Bosses say increasing numbers of young recruits are unable to communicate with customers in formal English. 

Instead they use “text speak” and litter emails with abbreviations and obscure acronyms.

Now senior business figures are urging the Government to take action. They believe social networking has created an underclass of prospective employees who lack the basic skills needed to secure employment.

So, kids today are inequipped to function in the world of work, and it’s social media and text messaging that’s to blame? Why not throw in alcopops and rap music while you’re at it, and go the whole stereotypical hog.

A couple of things stand out about this story, to me:

Some of the claims made across the stories are quite remarkable:

[Youngsters] only know to interact with short “text speak” to save themselves time, so they start using text speak in conversations

Youngsters only know how to interact that way, or is it that they also know how to interact that way?

Heavy use of Twitter and Facebook is isolating staff because relationships are all through a machine

An interesting claim – and one we’re given absolutely no proof for.

We have instances in offices where people would rather sit at their desk and send e-mails to each other next door than walk around and have a conversation.

Instances? Are we to believe this is a behaviour so entrenched in the nation’s youth that it deserves to have them written off in headlines in the papers, or are these merely ‘instances’?

So, let’s take a look behind the story. From the Mail version:

Research for Adecco found that 52 per cent of employers believe the British school system is failing to equip youngsters for the world of work.

Adecco – the recruitment firm – tell us that people leaving school are unemployable because of all those things that youngsters today do that the generation or two above them didn’t do. This is just another example of the generational decline narrative, which we’ve seen before on this site – decrying the youth of today is a handy storyline that reliably makes headlines.

February, however, must have been quite a hard month for Adecco – because while they’re now telling us that Britain’s youths and school-leavers are an unemployable bunch, as recently as January 16th they were telling us:

UK employers rate school leavers over graduates

One fifth (18 per cent) of UK employers believe school leavers make better employees than university graduates, according to new research from Adecco Group UK & Ireland, the UK’s largest recruiter. 

It’s almost as if recruitment firms will say anything at all, so long as it gets their name into the news…

“British kids lack culture!” says city tourism board ahead of half term week

February 15th, 2012

Let’s not believe that the Daily Mail are the only media source printing ideology-led opinion polls as news (although they’re probably the worst offenders). Take, for example, this from the BBC:

British children are culture starved, study says

Millions of British children are “culture starved” as they have never been to an art gallery, theatre or museum, a study has claimed.

The research, commissioned by Visit Birmingham, found four in 10 children had never been to an art gallery, while a quarter of parents had never taken their offspring to the theatre.

One in five parents said they did not think their child would be interested.

The study surveyed 2,000 parents of five to 12-year-olds around the UK.

Quite who thinks it’s a nice idea to be taking children under twelve (and as young as five) to an art gallery, I’ve no idea.

Looking at the stats, is this anything so remarkable? 40% of children aged 5-12 haven’t been in an art gallery – but 40% of children in that age bracket are under nine, so is it odd that children under nice haven’t been taken to an art gallery? I’m not sure. Further, was the breakdown across the age groups equal? Or were there a lot of five year olds included, but not as many twelve year olds – thus potentially skewing the numbers? 

I’ve no idea – the data isn’t presented, and isn’t freely available. Without the sample group, the raw figures don’t tell us much.

Should we expect more children under 12 to have visited art galleries? What would be a non-remarkable percentage, or what would be the expected percentage in a society which isn’t ‘culturally starved’? Again, we’re not told. Without context, the figures are meaningless at best, and misleading at worst. And that’s only if, indeed, they’re even accurate…

This – and the same story in The Telegraph and Daily Mail – came from a survey commissioned by OnePoll, the polling arm of press agency and PR firm 72 Point. We know this is true, because the press release is featured on both websites:

Although, oddly enough, the text is about an entirely different story (an error by the company in putting the story on their site, I presume). Still, it’s clear that they’re the originators, given the URLs of the relevant pages.

Handily, Visit Birmingham themselves published the full press release which the BBC and Telegraph based their articles on, which happily enough appears to coincide entirely coincidentally with their what-to-do-during-half-term offers.

So, a culturally bereft generation gone to the dogs? Or a tourist board advertising their half term offers?