News & Events
First-time job hunters need inspiration from politicians
Our Chief Executive Ronel Lehmann calls on Election Day for the world of politics to take the lead.
When I speak to young people today who are straight out of college, school or university, I find them unanimously concerned about how best to get on and find suitable employment. It is not easy.
And neither is it easy for their parents, who struggle to help given the intense competition there is for jobs, but are often keen to make introductions, facilitate work experience opportunities, or to encourage enrolment in apprenticeships, as they seek to help their children into longer term careers.
The General Election campaigning over the last few weeks has provided a wake-up call, and a reminder of the Thatcherite Britain of the Eighties, when students entered the world of work full of aspiration and a will to succeed, which over time resulted in an army of new business enterprises.
But, of course, the Eighties were not easy, and there were clear lines of division; those who had nothing, but managed to scrape by; families that educated their children to give them a good start in life, by forsaking everything else; and others who were from a privileged few, who prospered, in spite of difficult economic times.
It was also the era of the legendary union barons, who ruled with an iron fist, favouring strikes, battles for workers’ rights, and standing up for the under-dog, but not in the best interests of a free market economy.
Today, as a nation, we are much more tolerant, fair-minded and welcoming. And party leaders are reaching out to those with little status, seeking their votes and promising to care for the disadvantaged few who are unable to survive without government help, especially those with disabilities.
But history repeats itself when young people watch some of our public-sector workers strike for better terms, pay conditions and benefits.
We can look back on the Eighties for good or for bad, but we can certainly find in them some inspiration for young people. And there are plenty of examples for students today, to embrace those business leaders who started with nothing and achieved great success, instead of using their energies negatively to support out-of-date working practices by opposing flexibility, new advances in technology and automation.
You only have to take a look at John Griffin, the founder of Addison Lee, who began with one car and sold his business for £360 million a few years ago. He invested in technology long before the taxi trade, and in so doing sparked a raft of competitors, including Uber, who transformed old transportation ideas and brought innovation to a global audience.
Trying to help a young person to get work ready is challenging, and times have certainly changed. It is even more difficult to provide them with any guidance about which political party they might best be advised to vote for, if we are going to get back to the days of innovation, aspiration and determination.